Working from home can be a blessing however, this luxury really changes the way you work. In fact, for some people it becomes a challenge to be motivated and accomplish what needs to be done on a daily basis. It is important to build a productive work from home schedule to help you stay on track and focused.
Building A Productive Work From Home Schedule
I have always envied those that got to work from home full-time, and then I became one of those people. It was amazing how instantly everyone around me who went into an office on a daily basis thought my life was cake and super easy now that I had a work from home job. Guys, this might come as a surprise but I do not sit on the couch all day in my PJs and watch Criminal Minds all day…nope, I work!! Deadlines do not care where your desk is!! Look, I am not going to sit here and say that it isn’t an amazing gig but the fact is…working from home is a lot harder than you think.
Right now I know there are so many people thrown into the world of working from home without any preparation. And maybe some of you never had the dream or wish of wanting to be at home for work so I know how much of a challenge this time can be for some. The information I am sharing with you today about building a productive work from home schedule does not have to be followed exactly. Clearly, every situation and person is different but I hope you read these tips and take them into consideration as you move into this roll.
Working From Home Tips and Suggestions
1. Wake Up!
I know how difficult this is, especially knowing that you do not have a boss waiting for you at the office. But, I promise you that if you slack on your wake up time you will feel it the rest of the work day. As you begin to work from home, continue your normal work day hours. Set an alarm…yes, I know that sucks to hear. Get up when the alarm goes off and get that coffee brewing! This also applies to going to bed. Once I started working from home I found myself not rushing to bed for my normal bedtime, instead I was staying up late and it was kicking my behind in the morning!
2. Get Dressed.
Yes, you will have to wear something other than sweats and yoga pants…sorry! It is really easy to get into a slump but I honestly think this affects your work you are producing. If I get up, get dressed (in office/work appropriate clothing), put my make-up on, brush my teeth, do my hair and have a good breakfast I have a very productive and motivated day. Hey, we all have those days that we feel down and even sick, yes, those are days that calls for a good PJ day but do not make it a habit. Having the luxury of working from home does mean you might not have to take sick days because even in PJs you can get some work done in between naps. But again, this should not be a normal practice.
3. Find Your Space.
Create a dedicated work space when working from home. Sure that couch looks comfortable but are you truly going to be focused on what needs to be done for the day? Find a space that is ergonomically pleasing, has great light and the equipment you need to do your job. Decorate this space and fill it with items that make you happy and enjoy what you are doing. This should be similar to any office area you might work at out of the home but you get to control what it looks like and where it is at!
4. Embrace Being A Planner.
I have always been a planner and a list maker so this area has never really been a challenge for me. While your schedule might vary by day, week or month it is important to create some kind of schedule. For example: the first hour of my morning is focused on email. Checking my emails, responding to emails and sending emails. Once I feel like my email is clean and caught up on, I move into another daily item which is promoting and syndicating my newest articles on social media. Once emails and syndication are complete I move into anything else on my list for the day. This plan or schedule will vary for everyone. While we all love digital, I have to be honest, my paper planner is what keeps me on track and on schedule every day!
5. Breaks Are Good!
When working from home, it is easy to see all of the chores that need to be done around the house. It is okay to use your breaks to get these chores done. In fact, one chore that keeps me really on task is laundry. I dig into my work while the dryer is on and once that buzzer goes, I jump up and fold clothes, switch loads and back to work! It is a great way to get things done around the house (hello to the life of flexibility)! Breaks can also be a quick walk around the block with the dog or catching up with friends or family on a phone call.
6. Use That Commute Time.
Remember sitting in traffic for hours a week just trying to get to and from work? Yeah, me too! Ugh!! Time to use that time!! Sure, you could sleep in but why not better yourself during those hours instead? Hit the gym, read a book, or meditate. Working a job from home will still have its stressful days but one of the biggest advantages to working from home is the lack of commute and traffic time which usually equals stress! Enjoy those extra hours in your day and use them to benefit you!
7. Use Technology To Connect.
More than likely you will still have employees, clients or coworkers even though you are working from home. Most of the time, emails or phone calls can get your issues or questions taken care of but it is also great to take some time every once in a while to have a face-to-face. This does not have to be in person! Using Skype, Facetime or Zoom can allow you to connect with the people you work with all from your home!
8. Distractions Will Ruin You!
Seriously!! Look around, your home is full of distractions. This is why it is important to have the dedicated working space when working from home. In addition to the dishes and projects calling your name you will be dealing with the distractions of social media, other technology and TV. Limit these distractions through out the day. Timers are great for this! Want to watch a show from the DVR, great, do it for 30 minutes and then turn off the TV!! Again, this is a myth to those that do not work from home – you cannot sit in front of the TV all day and be productive and motivated…that just isn’t possible.
9. Your Office Doesn’t Have To Be At Home.
Yes, you are working from home but there are days that a change of scenery is much needed. If at all possible find a great place with Wifi that isn’t too full of distractions and move your office to that space for a day a week. This breaks up the feeling of being at home for too long and allows you to network. I find myself much more motivated and inspired after a day of working at the local coffee shop.
10. Lunch Dates.
Earlier we discussed breaks. Breaks are good, if you were in an office you would have breaks. You would also have social time – walking to your next meeting, filling up your water bottle, heating up breakfast or going out to lunch with coworkers. All of those things are breaks. While working from home, you will not have as many of those social breaks which means you will need to plan some. Call a friend up for lunch next week. Meet for coffee or even brunch. Do not feel guilty for making time to connect with others face-to-face. Something that people do not expect when transitioning from an office to working from home is the loneliness. It gets lonely REAL fast people! Be prepared for that and do not forget to make lunch dates!
11. Prepare Your Meals.
I am a snacker, I was when I worked in an office but that snacky feeling grew when I was at home. To help me with this “issue”, I decided I would prepare my meals and snacks for the day just like I would if I was leaving the house every morning to go to the office. Not only does this help me with my snack habits but it keeps me well fed through out the day. Allows me to really take those breaks and not end up getting to 3:00pm without having anything but coffee in my stomach.
12. Office Hours.
Look, there are days that I work until 10pm once the kids are in bed. That is what a flexible work from home job looks like. However, it is important to set some kind of office hours for yourself so you do not work for 15 hours a day! Having a good start and end time is a great way to set these boundaries for yourself. Now, just because it is 15 minutes past your office hours doesn’t mean you cannot keep working but again this allows you to set some boundaries…no guilt for not checking your email 17 times after dinner!! Things can wait…you deserve to watch your favorite shows and go to bed on time!
Well, those are my tips and tricks to building a productive work from home schedule. I cannot break a perfect schedule down hour by hour because every job, person and situation is different. But if you work these tips into your schedule, I know you will find the perfect option for you to find that daily motivation to produce great work!