Finding a Work-at-Home Schedule That Works for You
Working from home during the time of coronavirus has been a struggle. I’ve worked remotely for over 8 years, including working remotely from some beautiful destinations.
But during that time, I’ve nearly always worked from coworking spaces, public libraries, and the occasional coffee shop simply to get out of the house.
I also have a dedicated office space in my home, but this has been the first time I’ve ever worked completely at home. Not leaving the house. At all.
Creating work at home schedules can be a life-saver.
You don’t have to plan every single minute of your day. But, a routine is important, not only for productivity, but for your mental health too.
Have you struggled with feeling like the work day is over? Do you feel this lingering level of anxiety even after you’ve closed your laptop? I know I have.
When I have no separation between the end of my workday and “leisure” time, I still feel at work. After all, I’m still at home. There was no commute. There was no break in the day to indicate, “work is over, time to relax.”
Creating an end-of-day ritual has made the biggest impact on my mental health. It gives me a moment to reflect on the day, and reset for the evening.
Or is your struggle more that you don’t even know where to start in the morning? Or you work for 3 hours, it’s lunch time, and you think, “what have I even been doing all morning?” I’ve been there too.
Creating a morning routine before working at home has been my game-changer to figure out focus.
This isn’t a one-size fits all methodology, but I want to share with you what works for me.
I don’t time block. I’ve tried. It didn’t work for me. For one, I have a tendency to underestimate how long a task might take. I’d be deeply focused on a task, and not want to change rhythm just because it was 1:00. Instead, creating 3 habits I want to follow every morning, afternoon, and evening end-of-day, has left me feeling both happier & more productive.
However, time blocking might be a strategy for you to create a work at home schedule. Know your own personal habits and preferences. Test a few different ways to structure your day, and you’ll find a work at home schedule that boosts your productivity & happiness.
For me, I created a work-at-home schedule that focuses on creating routines for each time of day:
- Morning Routine
- Afternoon Routine
- End-of-Day Routine
These are moments that add structure to my day. They allow me to reflect on what I want to accomplish. And, perhaps most importantly, these routines mentally prepare me for either work or fun, so my day doesn’t feel like a long blur of time at home.
Keep reading below about how to build each of these routines while working at home.
Plan Your Morning Work-at-Home Schedule
When you’re working from home, it’s really important to not jump straight into your work.
It’s so tempting to immediately start checking your email while sipping your cup of coffee.
Instead, create a morning routine on how you want to start your day. Maybe it’s starting with meditation or journaling. Maybe you want to start with exercise. Create three items that you want to do every morning, in that order. And then start doing it.
Establish a routine that kicks off your day right.
Your work-at-home morning routine may include items like:
- Shower & get ready first thing in morning.
- Eat breakfast and read the news.
- 20-minute meditation
- Journal what you want to accomplish today
- Create your to-do list for the day
I always end my morning routine with a quick journal reflection of what I want to accomplish that day. I write down my task list, so my day has focus.
Write down in your planner the one thing you want to finish that day. Create your to-do list. And, most importantly, create a routine that starts each day with intention.
Advice for Creating an Afternoon Routine While Working At Home
Next up, I plan my afternoon routine.
This might be the order in which I focus on tasks. But one important aspect I do to give my afternoon routine structure is that I always take a break to each lunch. I close my computer, and I eat. It’s too easy to accidentally skip a lunch break. I even make a point to go on a 20 minute walk each afternoon. If the weather is bad, I’ll meditate. But I find that I become incredibly restless and distracted during the day if I don’t give myself this break.
Suggestions of how you might add structure & reset in the afternoon are:
- Go for a walk
- 20 minute meditation
- Stretch or 20 minutes of yoga
- Mid-day journal reflection
Remember, this isn’t creating your work schedule. You’re creating a task list or project goals in your planner. Instead, this is about creating habits & rituals to keep you focused and motivated while working at home.
My Most Important Habit: End-of-Day Ritual
I end each day with the same routine. It’s so simple, but it’s what allows me to step away from my computer and feel like I’ve “left” work.
Start with that final check of your email and messages. When possible, zero-out your inbox. I’ve found if I don’t do this final check I’m left stressing that I forgot to respond to an urgent message.
After that final check, notifications for emails & messages are turned off.
Next, I go through my planner & write down everything I’ve accomplished that day. I’ll make notes on what’s urgent to finish tomorrow.
Even if you use a project manager like Asana or keep your notes in a planner, it’s still an incredible feeling to write down once more everything you accomplished and learned. Often, there are so many other small tasks or ideas that came to you that weren’t on your to-do list.
When you end your day or your week thinking, “What did I even accomplish this week?” , you now have a journal full of your accomplishments & tasks ticked off. It’s satisfying, but also shows if you’re on track.
Keeping track of everything I’ve done has also allowed me to set more realistic expectations about what I can do in a single day or week.
What do you include in a work at home schedule? What routines have you established? Let me know your recommendations int he comments! Or, I’d love to hear how these routines may have helped you!