One of the great things about working from home is the freedom to plan and schedule your day in whatever way you choose. However, one of the pitfalls of working from home is that you can fall into a rut. If you work from home and find yourself wearing your pajamas all day or skipping a shower, you might want to add some more structure to your week.
When you are your own boss, there is no one to get after you about deadlines or work ethic. Or if you are telecommuting, there is no one looking over your shoulder. It’s up to you to manage your time. I find that creating a more structured schedule for myself helps me to keep better working habits.
Here are some things to keep in mind when working from home:
It’s important to create a schedule for yourself. Choose three of your most important projects, break them down into smaller tasks, and write them into your calendar. This gives structure to your day, and keeps you from sitting around trying to decide what to work on next. It also keeps you from getting bored or feeling overwhelmed, and then throwing up your hands and switching on the TV.
Be sure to schedule in breaks and your life as well. Carve out time for lunch, or a workout, or a chat with a friend, or a call with your Mom. Write them into your calendar so you not only work all day, but you live all day.
Work from home with style. This doesn’t mean you have to dress up, but how you perform tasks can have style as well. Put positive energy into working from home. Think about how you get a chance to take care of yourself and work from home at the same time.
If you work from home regularly, be sure to change into work clothes. You don’t have to put on a suit, but make sure you get out of your pajamas. You need to have a separation between work and being at home. Wear something comfortable that you can sit in all day, but presentable enough to be able to walk to the mailbox or receive a package, or jump on a Zoom call.
Prepare healthy meals for yourself. How wonderful to be able to work from home and have the luxury of making your own lunch, perhaps a hot lunch. Or get something in the oven for dinner. When I worked in an office and had a long, lousy commute, I always ended up eating out or getting takeout. Being able to eat at home, with food you made with your own two hands, is an unbelievable luxury.
Only make enough coffee to get you through the morning. Don’t get into the habit of drinking an entire pot of caffeine. Take water breaks. If you want to jazz up your hydration, add some fruit slices, or drink mineral water.
Do some stretches or some type of exercise. Sitting all day is not good for our health. I’ve created a stretching routine for myself that I do while I wait for my coffee to brew. My coffee pot takes about 7 minutes to brew a pot of coffee. By the time I get to my first cup, I’m limber and awake.
Also, get up and walk around frequently. Some physical therapists say we should stand up for a few minutes every hour. This is also a perfect time to take an eye break. If you stare at a computer screen all day, take a few minutes to focus on something in the distance to rest your eyes.
Tidy your environment. A clutter-free room will help clear your mind. You also don’t want your house to be a mess if you have to jump on a Zoom call.
Put boundaries around your time. It’s easy for people to think when you’re home that you’re free. Make sure people know you are working just like everyone else. Have them schedule time with you like you would any appointment.
When you work from home, your days can start to blend together. Sometimes, I find myself working just as hard on the weekends as I do during the week. But I try not to. I always write my newsletter on Sundays, but I try to keep Saturday free and Mondays fairly light. Before the pandemic I might schedule in a lunch or dinner date, or a coffee catch-up with friends. Now, it’s phone calls or Zoom.
I try to post to my lifestyle blog three times a week and at least once a week to my food blog. I also try to publish two videos a week to YouTube. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s my goal. I also fit in other money-making activities like creating products, online courses, or coaching. You can see why it’s important for me to keep to a schedule, so that I can get everything done.
Free Weekly Planner
I created a weekly planner template that I fill in for myself. You can download a copy here. It has three styles. One page has half hour time breaks. One has no appointment times so you can fill in your own. One is a blank page so you can structure your week however you want.
A calendar helps me structure my days to get the important things done so I can make a living doing what I love, and also live a life that I love.
Of course, when the world opens back up again, this may all change. But that’s the beauty of a blank template. You can fill it in to suit your needs.
Let me know if this template helps you plan your week. You don’t have to work from home to use it.