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How to Schedule Your Day When You Work From Home

by Bethany

Working from home is a dream come true for many. Remote work is the new job frontier. Whether you work for a company or you are freelancer with multiple clients, you get to decide when you work and where you work. 

The removal of the grinding work structure “9-5” is what makes remote work ideal. This is also what causes you to work 12 hours in a row and skip lunch. Maybe that’s not you at all, but distractions at home are everywhere. The day could just as easily slip by without being productive at all.

Tips for Scheduling Your Work Day at Home

Whatever your struggles are with remote work from home, you will need just a tad bit (or a lot bit) of structure to make it work. Here are strategies for scheduling your day when you work from home. 

1. Make a list every single night

Find an app or buy a fancy notebook to keep your to-do list. Try to only put the tasks that you can accomplish the next day on the list. I keep a “day of” list on my phone and a “future” to-do list for, well, the future.

Creating a list the night before gives your entire day a purpose and direction. Plus, I love checking off lists when things get done.

2. Find a reminder system that works

Even if you create lists, you should also have a reminder system in place for bigger deadlines. For some this may look like iCal and setting reminders before events. For others you can download an app that will remind you of important due dates. 

I like to use my Calendar for most things now. In the past, I have used the To-doist app. Having a system means I don’t miss deadlines or events. It also means that I can relax when I am done working and not worry I am forgetting something.

3. Track your time

If your day seems to get away from you, consider tracking your time. You may already track your time for clients or your boss if you work on an hourly basis. Even if this is not required and you are paid by the project, tracking your time is a good way to schedule your day and set your rates.

Apps like Toggl, Tick and RescueTime are all good options. So is the timer on your phone if you want to give yourself a productivity test for how much you can get done in a certain amount of time. 

4. Give yourself  a responsibility in the morning or at night  

Starting your work time in a productive manner is important. This means get up and have a cycle class scheduled at 7am. Or if your best work happens at night, have a routine that gets you into work mode and away from Netflix. Giving yourself a responsibility before you start work is a good way to stay accountable. 

When I am working at home after teaching, I know that I come home and walk the dog then get to work. On days where I work from home all day I will hit a cycle class in the morning then get to work. These cues have helped set up the day to be productive.

5. Set social media constraints

Social media is the time suck of our current generation.  Setting some strict rules about social media use is important for scheduling your day at home. The scroll is a real temptation during your coffee break, so set your phone to remind you when you have been on social media for too long.

If you really need to lock it down with more than self-control tries an app that limits use. The app Freedom will limit your internet for up to 8 hours, which is only ideal for some positions. Focus Writer or FocusBooster are other well-known apps for blocking out social media to focus on work.

You can always put your phone in another room and install an extension like Leechblock to stop you from going to social media on your computer. Set a constraint so you can focus during work time. Unless of course your job involves social media. Then you would need some serious will power. 

6. Put on a timer for breaks 

Breaks are essential to productivity and creativity. A brain break should be a part of your day along with standing and moving between tasks. Take a break, but set a timer for your break if you tend to be a wanderer. I always seem to get distracted by what needs to be done around the house and will spend too much time doing dishes or laundry, when I need to get back to the project at hand. Set a timer, make some tea, pet the dog, then back to work you go.

7. Organize your work space

Having a clean and tidy workspace is known to improve your concentration. At the end of each day leave your desk or kitchen table the way you would like to come back to it in the morning. Move your cup to the sink and throw out your sticky notes. Leave your desk a new space and keep it looking fresh.

Not only should your physical space stay decluttered, but so should your digital work space. This is even more of a reflection of your work zone since your computer is literally your life. Close some tabs, clear off your desktop, and keep your google drive files in folder. 

8. Get dressed or don’t

I know they say to pretend like you are going into the office every day. Except, the whole point is that you aren’t. You have crafted your life and your career to be able to stay at home. So don’t get into a suit a tie everyday, but maybe on Tuesday when you have your meetings over Skype. 

I am a big fan of getting dressed to start your day. I will start in my workout gear right away because I know that I am going to a class. Then when I am home, I shower and change into street clothes to begin work. This keeps me in a state of mind ready to be productive. It is true that my robe is forever comfortable and the work I do in my robe is just as good. For the sake of keeping a routine and schedule-I get dressed. I find it a personal choice and know plenty of freelancers who prefer the robe. Bottome line, if it helps, do it.

9. Respect quitting time 

Setting office hours is a good idea for some, while others don’t like the rule of a strict time schedule. Regardless of when you choose to work, set an ending time. This will keep work from taking over your life. If you work in the morning from 6am-10am and then from 2pm-4pm- stick to it. Know when to shutdown the laptop and spend time with your cats or kids. Keeping a work-life balance and respecting a quitting time will make your work stay at work. This is something I am truly focusing on right now.

Be Willing to Test Out Your Schedule 

Allow for a few test runs. Working from home is all about the flexibility, so flex your schedule till you find what you like. A system takes a bit to customize, so have patience with yourself. The most important thing is to not miss a deadline and be willing to throw out your Trello app if it just doesn’t do it for you. 

How do you schedule your day when you work from home? Do you keep to a routine at all? Do you use any apps to manage your productivity? Share with us!

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2 comments

FreedomFiter July 5, 2019 - 9:23 am

I don’t use any apps, really, but I have an overall schedule that I try to follow: up early with the dog, first cup of coffee outside watching the birds in relative silence, freelance while the kids are asleep (and as they wake up. They kind of know that morning time is the time that I’m going to be working, so although I am often interrupted to get toast and help with tooth brushing, they are getting better at leaving me alone). My goal is to finish the morning responsibilities before 10:30, and I have an alarm on my phone reminding me of this. Sometimes I go a little over, sometimes I finish a little early, but the alarm helps me to keep it in check. Clean the house, work on reading with my older girls, and by 11 (in theory), we’re ready to have a kid-focused day. That’s when we go to the pool or the library or the amusement park, and I make an attempt to close the computer and keep it closed after that.

It has been *really* helpful for me to segment my day into “work in the morning, family starting in the early afternoon.” My kids sometimes sleep until 9, so I’m able to do it all. The timer, and respecting it, makes a big difference for me!

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Bethany July 5, 2019 - 11:55 am

I love this! Thank you for sharing your routine.

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