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 miss 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 make 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. Finally, research shows that sitting all day may be one of the biggest health risks to people today. So by standing, stretching, and moving a little bit, you can offset the negative effects of sitting all the time.
3. Maintain a 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 routine, no matter what time you sit down to work.
Try and set the same hours each day, whenever possible. Ideally, you should shower, get dressed, and eat a good breakfast. Of course, I’m a pajama mama, so I don’t always follow that suggestion. But I do have a regular routine that helps me get into the swing of things quicker.
4. Find your ideal work zone
In order to effectively get work done, you need a space that is conducive to working. Do you find creative stimulation when there’s a lot of background noise or music? Or do you prefer absolute quiet? I need natural light. Whatever environment you need to feel energized and get your work done is the space you need to find and/or create.
Sometimes you might get sick of your regular office. If you have a laptop, you can change where you work to get needed inspiration or re-motivation.
5. Have a plan
Having a to-do list and routine is part of planning, but if your work tasks are like mine, there are some things you do daily, and other things, like projects, often only get done haphazardly. Setting long and short term work goals and working them into your schedule and routine will insure that not only do you get your regular work done, but also, projects that take time. For example, if you’re a blogger, you spend much of your day researching, writing, and marketing. But if you want to add an new affiliate product or create your own information product, that will take additional time. You’ll want to make a plan for getting those longer term projects completed, and include the tasks into your daily schedule.
Goals that are backed up by a plan are also a great way to help you keep track of your progress.
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.
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