Working from home with a single desk, one computer and phone or internet access can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very challenging.
The next step is to create a routine that will automatically set you up for success. Having everything in one place (your computer, your desk, your phone) while you are doing something else is only half the battle — the other half is making work easy and enjoyable (and not frustrating).
This guide will help you find that balance:
Set up your routine with a clear objective in mind (i.e., what do I want to achieve today?)
Create a schedule that fits your needs (i.e., which days do I need to be at my desk for? What’s most convenient for me?)
Create an environment where consistency and predictability reign (i.e., what things should happen when? How often?)
This guide will start by showing you how to plan time efficiently so that every day fits into a pattern. You will then discover how to create integrated routines that support not only achieving goals but also maintaining momentum long after you’ve achieved them.
You will learn about tools for scheduling tasks and monitoring progress on multiple fronts simultaneously—from email to calendars and even an inbox watchlist! A clean schedule becomes an invaluable tool in managing your own workflow so that you can get more done in less time—and keep on getting more done!
Finally, we’ll share strategies specific to working remotely as well as when planning to work remotely in the future.
The importance of a routine
There is an old saying that goes, “working from home you must have a reliable method for going to work.”
This is true for most people. However, there is a distinction between “work from home” and “work from your regular workplace.” The latter refers to the actual place you go regularly to work, whereas the former refers to your working environment.
If you are in a building with other employees, then this may be your office or workspace. If you are in an office with no other employees (i.e., it is a cubicle), then this may be your apartment or home office (or even just your living room).
The difference between these two can be quite subtle — but it matters when it comes to organization, planning and productivity. When you are working on a piece of paper at home, then you cannot really do much organization because of the lack of physical space.
In addition, if there is just one person sitting in front of the keyboard, then they get distracted easily and keep tapping away without actually writing anything down (or even understanding what they are writing).
This can lead to poor quality work resulting in lots of mistakes and time wasted — though this could also be remedied by simply moving it outside for more legible writing space/time investment (which would also help with sleep).
However, when you go into an office setting where there are actual people working together: things get much more complicated! How do we make sure we don’t waste time by not being organized?
How do we ensure everyone gets their tasks done in time? How do we ensure everyone gets their tasks done in the right order? How do we keep everyone happy and productive?
The answer lies here: create routines that make you productive when working from home; and automate them!
How to form a routine
It’s common to hear people say they don’t work from home, but working from home isn’t a career decision. In reality, it’s a lifestyle choice. You can work remotely without having to quit your day job or take on any other significant financial commitments. You can set your hours and still have time for social life and family.
And yet, most people who work remotely do so because they want the freedom to pursue their passions and interests anywhere they are — in their own time.
Today, we hear a lot about “rotating projects” — that is, working on multiple projects at once as long as you can find things to keep you busy in between them. But that arrangement doesn’t give you the flexibility you need for everything you want to do: pacing yourself for the day and taking breaks when necessary helps avoid burnout; keeping up with multiple projects means keeping up with multiple workflows; and working on dozens of projects at once forces you to become more efficient by thinking about managing your time and planning your tasks (instead of just executing them).
That way, when you are ready for new challenges or opportunities, when it’s time to shift gears and start fresh, no matter where they come from or who they are coming from, you’ll know exactly what needs doing — not just what you think needs doing — before setting out into the unknown territory ahead.
Tips for maintaining a productive routine
If you’re working from home, you probably have a very different approach to work than if you’re at a coffee shop or office. While the coffee shop starts with an espresso, your morning routine is pretty much set no matter where you are in the world. You wake up, get dressed, and make yourself some tea or coffee.
You come home, eat some breakfast, read some email and do some mindless filing. That’s it until lunchtime. Then it’s time for another shower and more work. You return home for lunch then put on something comfortable for the evening (or maybe just go to bed).
This can be a very productive routine if done correctly. If however you find yourself going to bed early (or perhaps even staying up late) then this can lead to exhaustion and potentially insomnia – which may result in poor productivity in your next day job as well as other problems like stress, fatigue and lack of restorative sleep.
So what should you do? Well first of all we need to identify a problem that needs solving – usually this is something that happens during your day as opposed to something that happened before you left home (like waiting at your desk), which means that working from home isn’t the solution in itself.
The solution is usually figuring out how much time we spend sitting at our desks while thinking about work versus how much time we spend actually doing it – but before we get there we need to look at our individual situation over time.
If you were going around later than usual last night (e.g., driving home from a party) but did not leave work until after 8 am today, then efficiency may not be an issue for you – because your body clock was on autopilot last night and now that it has been reset it will function well throughout the day without any input from you.
The benefits of a work routine
Having a daily routine is an important part of building a strong work life. Having a regular routine allows you to focus on the things that matter to you, so you will be able to get more done in less time.
In this guide, I’ll explain how to set up a work schedule that is both effective and enjoyable.
There are many different ways of creating your daily work routine, but my recommendation is to use this one:
1. Set aside some time or some days each week that you know you can have a specific goal in mind. For example, every morning I set aside 20 minutes every day where I think about what I want to do over the next 30 minutes or so (e.g., write an email). This helps me stay focused and be productive.
2. Find something that interests you — any kind of hobby or pastime can be great for motivation!
3. Set aside at least 1 hour each day for this goal (or, if necessary, dedicate more time).
4. After 1 hour has passed, feel inspired to continue with the goal and commit yourself to it for the remainder of the day (or session).
5. As soon as possible after beginning your work session, feel motivated to end it and commit yourself to another session before the current one ends (or before your next breakfast meeting begins).
You don’t need much in terms of money or equipment; just some creativity and discipline will get you started! If you’re like me and have low stress levels, try bringing your own coffee mug into your office — it will help keep distractions at bay!
The above article is based on my experiences working from home, but it will equally apply to those wanting to achieve more from their position at home. Specifically, this guide contains information on how I have been able to create a productive work schedule when I am fixing bugs on my website and not required to be in the office at any given time of the day or night.
This guide has been developed with the goal of helping people aspiring to work in the office full-time whether they have previously worked 12 hours (or more) nights or they have never worked nights before deciding that they need to start working later (such as when their children go to bed).
In short: if you wish to avoid feeling burnt out while still working through a long afternoon and evening then this document may serve as well as a safety net when times become too tough and you need some extra support yourself.