Multitasking boss: The joy of meeting work and parent obligations while everyone’s at home

Multitasking has reached new levels, as we’re now required to work productively from home without feebly succumbing to distractions and temptations. Childcare, household maintenance, and… addictive Netflix shows all demand our attention, making every day feel long and hard and unproductive. 

Let’s not get started on the needy cat.

This is, of course, in addition to the actual work front, where you find yourself ‘dialled in’ for video conference calls on sketchy home internet, troubleshooting tech when calls drop out, resisting inbox maintenance when uninspiring calls entice you to ‘get on top of emails’, and responding every five minutes to slack chat… all of this while maintaining the same serious office face and respectability your team and your managers have come to rely on. 

Some things might slip.

Your working from home skills upgrade

Let’s put things into perspective and respect for a moment that you’ve now taken on management of your new, tiny, high-energy-low-focus colleagues. You are tech support and supervisor for their important video calls with teacher, teacher’s aide, printer and collator of resources, caterer, recess / playground duty supervisor, and executive assistant! 

With all this extra responsibility and pressure to still show up, look good, and stay on top of demands – one could expect a few standards to slip in your professional world. Like;

  • Only dressing the top half in business attire while the lower half relaxes in comfortable active wear. 
  • Forgetting to use your inside voice. 
  • Forgetting to take breaks and eat well, snacking all day on chocolate instead.

By the end of this pandemic, you may even forget to shower. 

Try not to feel too disheartened by lowered standards and frenetic new routines and schedules you find impossible to stick with. 

Sidenote: Multitasking doesn’t really work

Even though you probably find yourself multitasking more now you’re working from home, the more you try to accomplish multiple things at once, the less effective you’ll be. That’s because what you’re really doing is more akin to task switching, and your brain can’t manage well. 

Instead, it might be more beneficial to focus on your most important tasks. Set realistic goals for each day / week and allow sufficient time in your schedule for tea breaks and downtime with your children. Work on accepting you may not get everything done, but in prioritising the high value stuff, you’ll be able to let the less important things go.

Be kind and be proud – you’ve got this

So, while juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities might seem like the best way to get a lot done, you could find your multitasking efforts are actually diminishing performance and stressing you out. And that’s OK! 

Even if you can’t quite manage to resist the tempting calls from your seductive fridge or broom closet, you are doing your best.

Be kind to yourself and be proud that you still show up and keep everyone fed and in bed on time. Don’t expect perfection in this era because with the increased responsibilities placed upon us, in addition to the increased stress we may feel from the uncertainty, it’s likely unachievable for most regular folk to maintain that same level of control and output we had in ‘normal’ times.