Working from home may seem like a dream come true, but just like any workplace it comes with its own set of problems. Unlike working in an office where you have set hours, the flexibility and informality of working at home, often makes it hard to stick to a schedule and complete all your daily tasks.It’s difficult to get work done at home when you are surrounded by distractions. Here are suggestions to help:
1. Write your schedule down.
One of the best ways to stick to your schedule is to write it down. If you keep everything in your head and try to remember what you are supposed to be doing, you’re more likely to forget something or waste time trying to remember what’s next on your to-do list. Especially if you are juggling many different tasks, it is easy for something to be missed. You wouldn’t want it to be an important meeting or deadline.
Spend ten minutes in the morning writing a simple list on a notepad each day, then mark each task off as you complete them. Buy a wall planner or use a calendar to write down important appointments, or download an app to help you stay organised.
2. Work in short bursts and take regular breaks.
Becoming distracted is an issue when working from home because it’s so easy to lose focus and click on Facebook or go and make yet another cup of coffee. Try to schedule each task for no more than an hour. Fifty minutes is ideal as it gives you ten minutes before the next task to put the kettle on and look at any notes you need.
Having that short window of time to work makes you much more focused, and you’re less likely to get distracted. Plus even if it’s a task you hate, you will only be doing it for 50 minutes, which doesn’t really seem that bad.
3. Maintain a morning routine.
One of the myths of working from home is that you can lie in bed until lunchtime then work for the rest of the day in your pajamas. Wrong! While you can set your own hours, it’s still important to maintain a morning routine, no matter what time you sit down to work.
Try and set the same hours each day, whenever possible. Always shower, get dressed, put on your makeup and eat a good breakfast. If you sit around in your pjs, you won’t be in the right frame of mind to sit down and work, and your productivity will be minimal. Obviously you don’t have to wear a business suit or anything like that, but sticking to a routine definitely helps when it comes to your work schedule.
4. Find your ideal work zone
In order to effectively get work done when you work from home, you need to know what your ideal work space consists of. Do you find creative stimulation when there’s a lot of background noise or music? Or do you prefer absolute quiet? If you have a laptop, you might want to work at the kitchen table, while other times you need to concentrate in your well-lit home office.
5. Create a time journal
What do you REALLY do with your time all day? Unless you keep a journal or calendar of some sort, you won’t know for sure. You may think you know how your time is being spent, but you could be wasting more time than you realize — and time is money for a small business owner!
Use something like Google Calendar, an agenda planner or even a regular notebook to record where you spend your time over the next 7 days. You’ll be able to see what your productivity roadblocks are and if there are times of the day you have more (or less) energy.
Next, remember that it’s important to work hard, but play hard too. And don’t forget to refuel your mind and body with good food and energizing workouts. Sometimes it’s the simplest changes that make the biggest impact!
What techniques do you use to stick to your schedule when working from home? Tell us in the comments below.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own. Click here for full details and disclosures.