Blame it on after-hours email, but it seems like the extended workday is here to stay. If your household is anything like ours, you often have work to do in the evening…and if you’re a parent, that means that work often intrudes on family time.

To help with the dilemma of how to fit evening work into family life, I have created a handy 2×2 — my favorite format for tackling any of life’s major decisions. If you want to use it to plan an evening’s worth of work, you just need to answer to questions: How much work are you bringing home, and how much attention does it require? Your answer will determine what you should maximize – and how to do it.

  Time required
Concentration required Less than 90 minutes More than 90 minutes
Wait until the kids are in bed, then go into a separate room
Stay out or go back out immediately after dinner
Wait until the kids are in bed, then work while grownups watch a TV show together
Start working when you get home, but hang out with the rest of the family during dinner, bath time etc.