Time management is nothing new. Even when you reported for work every day, you had things to accomplish within that day, and you had to organize your time, mapping out a schedule for yourself.
Now that you are working remotely from home, and perhaps not by choice right now, you will find that you have new challenges – the distractions are greater, the temptations to get off-task are all around you. There you are at home, with the laundry to do, with your favorite Netflix series beckoning, with children demanding your attention, with snacks calling from your cupboard, with full social media access, with friends calling, etc.
It’s so easy to succumb to all of the distractions and temptations. And you must find a way to put them away and focus on the job responsibilities.
So, how do you do this? The most successful method is to set a daily work from the home schedule that you commit to – a schedule that will let you complete your work tasks on a daily basis.
Setting Up Your Work from Home Schedule
Here’s the beauty of working from home. You do have more flexibility than you may have had in your traditional work environment. If you rise and shine at 6, you don’t have to take that shower, get dressed, gulp your coffee and start out on your commute, for example. And, if you are up late, you can attack some of those easier and less-demanding tasks.
So, as you set up your schedule, consider all of your waking time first. And go from there.
- Look at the work tasks for the day. (Actually, do this the night before). Make a list. Prioritize that list according to urgency but also according to the amount of focus that will be required for each one.
Once you have your four categories, consider two other things:
- What are the optimal times in your household for you to have chunks of time that will be best for focus?
- What are the optimal times for you physically and mentally? We all have times of the day or night when we are most productive.
As you set up your daily work from home schedule/routine, you need to carve out those times that you have for each of the four categories of tasks.
Now that you understand how to make a schedule and stick to it, you now need to figure out how you will actually stick to it.
How to Stick to a Schedule
There is only one way to actually stick to your work at home schedule. Don’t veer from it except in the case of emergencies or when you are simply too overwhelmed at the moment to move forward.
Here are a few tips to help you stick to your schedule:
- Build in down-time. You do need breaks, and you did take them when you were actually on-site.
- If you know that you are easily distracted and can succumb to interruptions or to other internal prompts to go do something else, then set up alarms. Don’t get up and away from your work until that alarm goes off.
- Plan your break activities around those things that bring you pleasure or mental respite. Physical exercise, for example, is a great break once you have spent an amount of time really focused on a tough task. Your brain needs time to shut down and renew itself, and physical exercise is the perfect elixir.
- Set breaks for quality time with your kids, if that is a part of your life. They will be more willing to allow you your isolated work time if they know that they will have your attention at certain times during the day or evening. Estell Leotard, remote editor for both Grab My Essay and Studicus, and mother of two active kids who are home from school right now, puts it this way: “I have had to learn how to stick to a schedule with my kids at home, and it meant re-arranging that schedule so that I could both complete my work and give them the time they needed with me. They are at least at the “age of reason,” so we set up their schedules to coincide with mine. When it’s time for our time, we honor it faithfully.”
- Break times should also include activities that are pleasurable for you. Maybe its something that you have recorded on TV; perhaps it is some yard work; maybe you just want to feel good about cleaning a room. The key will be to make it something totally different from your work. Elisa Abbott, a writer and blogger for Best Essay Education and Wow Grade, says this: “My most pleasurable past-time is a long walk with my dog. It is in my schedule every day, and he knows when that time is nigh. I get a gentle nudge, look at the time, and realize it’s that time – my own alarm clock of sorts. When we return, he is ready to settle down, and I am much renewed and ready to hit it again.”
- Be Reasonable. You can plan a nice, tight, well-organized schedule for each day. But understand this: Just as often occurred at your on-site work environment, things will not always go as planned. When this happens, just go with it. It may mean that you extend your workday into the evening or begin a bit earlier tomorrow, but all of this is doable.
You Can Do This
Even if you are new to this work at home life, you can be as successful, if not more so, than you were before. The key will be to set up the right physical work environment, be certain that other family members understand that you are “at work” during certain times, and then set a schedule that is both consistent and reasonable.
About the Author
Bridgette Hernandez is a work-at-home mom who writes and blogs for Supreme Dissertations and Trust My Paper, as well as for other clients. In her spare time, she packs herself and her kids into their RV for extreme adventures.