Exclusive: How I made it work! – Pallavi Mathur Lal on juggling work and housework in WFH


As they Work from Home, the women professionals are indeed the true heroes, having to juggle between their roles as Homemaker and, to coin a word,  Officemaker. Certainly not easy! But here’s
Pallavi Mathur Lal, Senior Client Officer, Ipsos India, telling us how she made it work

Corona Virus struck China, and we were universally alarmed at the aggressiveness of the spread and then, despite taking all the precautionary measures, we were in the throes of it, and a perforce work from home (WFH) and lockdown, ensued.

In an Ipsos study conducted in China through the Covid-19 times, it was found that people went through several different stages of emotions from the beginning of the virus spread till it was considered safe – disbelief, anxiety, isolation, upward turn, reconstruction (working through), acceptance and hope. Across the world, we are going through such emotions and more, as we globally deal with this virus.

With a 21-day lockdown in India, I think all of us have gone through some such upheavals in emotions and moods already. The first week for many of us would have been chaotic, to say the least. Adults working from home, children not going to school, not meeting people in groups – it has added further to shaking up our set routines. With maids (yes, key to many households running in urban India at least, esp. with both parents working) being asked to stay at home, the burden of managing work and home is truly upon us! Essential goods and services have been disrupted with panic buying and hoarding, and whatsapp groups have gone crazy with TMI(Too Much Information; some of it fake), while the meme-makers are having a hay day!

Leveraging productivity during WFM – decoded

Redefined routines. With the plethora of examples of people sharing tips on adopting different approaches, I’ve built a collective learning of best practices in self-reliance, wisdom gained over 3 weeks, which am enthused to talk about.

Pallavi Mathur Lal - Senior Client officer Ipsos India - MediaBrief

Pallavi Mathur Lal

Set a Routine – Boundaries, delegating chores and work

The thumb rule is to be disciplined.

Work, household chores, children – with all, blurring the lines, it became imperative to make a timetable that allowed tackling everything, without missing out on activities and critical tasks.

So, we had the weekly timetable of chores, for everyone in the family and kept getting refined with clearer tasks, responsibilities and timelines.

I started my mornings early, taking the load of the kitchen – breakfast, 80% preparation for lunch, dishes, garbage – and all done by 9 am. Got ready and kickstarted my work between 9.30 am to 9.45 am.

How did my regular day pan out – worked through the day,  with frequent breaks – to check on family and to clock some steps – marking less urgent work for the next day – family time, cooking and wrapping up the day. Late nights were strictly avoided as they were the spoiler for next day’s schedule.

Be Efficient

The list of tasks is endless, so ramping up efficiency, is the only way to go. These 3 weeks have made me adept at multi-tasking – in the kitchen and at scheduling my tasks, at work. Allotting time for ‘thinking’ work vs. executional work vs. making important calls – it all boiled down efficiency and the ability to do more in the same time.

Connect with Others

On official calls  or personal calls, the initial conversation was the same – who was spending how much time cleaning and in the kitchen! Everyone was going through the same issues. There is no denying it. Accepting and discussing in a lighter vein helped bond with others – whether employees or clients. Video calls were a saviour! After endless days of self-isolation, speaking to family and friends around the globe, just talking F2F virtually, was quite uplifting. I found myself  connecting with people more now and wondered why I’d not done this before.

Staying Positive

The clear route for staying positive is to keep busy, and to keep moving forward.

Whether work, children, other family, or house cleaning – the strong belief that in your personal capacity you are doing everything to keep them safe and healthy, is reassuring and uplifting.  Likewise, at work, the pandemic has made colleagues to naturally work as a team,  supporting and helping one another, further making the work environment conducive and positive.

Is there a better way to stay positive?

Adapting to the New Normal

Well, the normal is shifting for all of us.

Getting used to working without house help, new schedules, shortcuts, #2mealsaday, being frugal with your essentials at home, all of this is being applied, as the mind is trying to work out the best way to adapt to this dynamic situation. A seismic shift in behaviours, and slowly the attitudes to follow them, is the best way of getting through  this.

So truly believing – ‘This too shall pass’.

Hopefully have learnt new skills, better equipped to  handle crisis (the little ones at home every day, I mean 😊); understanding that family truly matters and of course, how to make WFH,  work for you. We shall all be changed for the better.

Your thoughts, please