A Work-From-Home Schedule That’ll Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

A Work-From-Home Schedule That’ll Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

A Work-From-Home Schedule 

The good news: Working from home has no hard and fast rules.

The bad news: Working from home has no hard and fast rules.

So make a plan and keep it simple. Having a general guide for what you’re supposed to tackle at what time will help you structure your day and get things done. A productivity plan, as we like to call it, keeps you on track so you don’t just look at your watch at 4:13 PM and think, “Where did today go?”

At a time when so many people are working from home for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, you might be finding yourself in need of a productivity plan of your own. Here’s a helpful, loose daily structure with some tips to help you adapt it for your own needs. With a few adjustments—according to when you wake up, when you’re expected to be reachable, what time of day you focus best, and, of course, whether you have kids or other caregiving responsibilities—you can make it work for you.

So pick and choose the blocks that make sense in your life, shuffle them around in the order that feels right, and give your plan a try.

7:30 AM

Wake up!

7:45 AM

Kick-off that morning routine: Take a shower, drink coffee, meditate, stretch, check your most important apps (Gmail, Slack, whatever they are for you) to see if there’s anything you need to address first thing.

Don’t skip the routine, however short. The first hour of the day sets the tone for the rest of it, so news plus Instagram probably isn’t your best bet—don’t let yourself get lost in a social media scroll hole before you’ve had a chance to do anything else.

8:15 AM

Handle anything urgent and give any updates to your boss and teammates. Getting this done first thing will give you peace of mind to dive into your work and focus without the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something or that someone’s waiting on you.

8:45 AM

Do your most important and creative work first. 

Use that golden morning brain to focus on something bigger than busywork. If you spend the first 90 minutes or so of your day chipping away at an important task or project, then no matter what—even if the rest of your day gets thrown off by something urgent (work crisis, partner problems, roommate issues, kid interruptions)—you’ll feel satisfied that you accomplished something meaningful.

10:00 AM

Take a break! After 75 minutes or so of focus, you’ve earned it. 

10:15 AM

Back to that important and creative work—hopefully, a little refreshed. It helps to set aside solid chunks of time on your calendar to focus on priority projects. 

12:30 PM

It’s lunchtime! Leave your workspace if you can for a change of scenery and so that you can actually enjoy your food. You don’t want to suddenly look down to see an empty plate and realize you didn’t even taste your sandwich because you were still typing. Move your body a little if possible, too, and try to get outside for a bit if you can. (These things can help you recharge and deal with anxiety you might be experiencing during this pandemic.)

1:30 PM

Now’s the time to reply to all nonurgent emails and messages. Remember, not every note requires your immediate attention. Most emails can be answered respectfully within 24 hours.

2:30 PM

If you can swing scheduling it this way, early afternoon is a superb time for virtual meetings. Extroverts, you’ll get a good boost from seeing your colleagues, and introverts, you’ll already have had most of the workday to yourself so you’ll probably be feeling nice and recharged from yesterday’s meetings and chatter.

4:30 PM

Back to emails and other correspondence one more time before the end of the day—it never ends, we know!

5:00 PM

Wrap up and plan for the next day. Before you completely sign off, jot down your top three priorities for the following morning. This will keep you centered on what matters most (and help you know how to kick off the next day with your best brain). 

Having even a rough outline like this to guide you will help you enjoy working from home more, help you get way more done, and make this social distancing situation more tenable. 

It may be a temporary situation but that doesn’t mean you have to write off regular, helpful routines—just that you need to find one that works for this moment. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you make the most of working-from-home. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Things are changing quickly every day, and most of us have seen our typical routines turned upside down. More and more workplaces are allowing or requiring remote work, while school and daycare closings and “social distancing” restrictions mean that whole families are suddenly spending a whole lot more time at home together.

That means many working parents are facing an unprecedented situation: working from home with kids and without access to the camps, babysitters, playdates, and even Grandma-dates that you might normally rely on to get through a school break or a snow day.

It won’t be smooth or perfect, but there are a few strategies you can use to make your new situation a little easier. We have real-world tips from remote workers who’ve balanced career and children in close proximity to help you through this difficult moment.

1. Get Creative With Your Schedule

If you have another adult home with you, consider a split schedule. “Our entire family was housebound for 15 days last winter when there was a polar vortex in Wisconsin,” says Melanie McKay, a scheduling manager for Kaplan Test Prep. “At the time our kids were two, six, seven, and nine. My husband and I both had to work from home and school was canceled. At the beginning of each day, we decided who would be the ‘on point’ parent. That person would work at the dining room table, feed the kids, and suggest activities for ‘bored’ children while the other parent worked in a different room.”

Of course, it may not be possible to get all your work done during regular business hours if you’re also on duty with the kids. “One way we maximized work time was by working odd hours,” McKay says. “I worked before the children were awake. My husband and I staggered work times during the day, and one of us worked in the evening when the children were in bed.” You’ll also need to take meetings and deadlines into consideration. Which ones can be shifted around, and which are cast in stone?

Whichever time slots you end up working, there will be an adjustment period as you retrain your mind to focus during your new “business” hours. You may enjoy mornings, but getting up at 4 or 5 AM to work is different from getting up early to exercise. So set yourself up for success. Pick out tasks in advance and then gather all of the tools and information you’ll need to complete them. Your tired brain will thank you later.

2. Be Up Front With Your Boss

You might need to make adjustments to your work schedule in order to watch your children. Before you do, talk to your boss or HR.

Begin the discussion by contextualizing the news. Remember that this isn’t your personal situation, it’s a community issue. Convey this point tactfully by stating the facts in a straightforward way. It’s also always good to come into this kind of conversation proactively with a clear action plan, says career coach Melody Godfred.

So for example, Godfred suggests you might say:

“As I transition to working from home, I wanted to share that I am also responsible for my three kids, who I will be homeschooling for the time being due to school closures. I am creating a schedule that I will share with you so that you’re aware of when I will be available or unavailable for calls or collaboration. I am absolutely committed to maintaining the level of excellence you expect and will remain in close communication with you so you’re clear on how I’m meeting our goals. I appreciate your support and look forward to navigating this together.”

3. Stick to a Routine

Maintaining a daily routine will help everyone stay occupied and manage some of the anxiety caused by this big change. Go ahead and write out a schedule (including which parent is on primary kid duty if you’re trading off) and pin it to the wall or the refrigerator so kids can refer to it throughout the day.

“The kids had a list of things to do each morning (dress, brush teeth, empty the dishwasher, read for 15 minutes), and we steered them toward different activities each day such as puzzles or fort building,” McKay says.

With some schools closing for a month or more, you’ll want to build in “school” time every day, too. (Bonus: School time can equal pockets of work time for you.) If your kids’ schools have set up remote learning, follow the plan and use the resources provided by their teachers.

Just resist the temptation to have a screen time free-for-all: “Rationing screen time was an important part of my child engagement strategy,” McKay says. “They knew that those were the only two hours that they would get to watch screens all day, so they focused on the show and let me focus on work.”

Juggling work and childcare is an intense but survivable experience. Many remote workers successfully navigate this reality every day. While your situation is different from families who regularly work at home while taking care of children, you can build a temporary structure for your temporary circumstances. With a little bit of planning, lots of discussions, and an adaptable attitude, you’ll be able to better weather your COVID-19 stint at home with the kids.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to working at home with your kids. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coaches and Los Angeles career coaches, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.

Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might feel like a whole new world: It’s probably sudden. It might be for an extended period of time rather than a couple of weeks (and you’re not sure how long it’ll last.) Your whole company is involved. And you aren’t supposed to socialize in person outside of work.

These tips will make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done, and at maintaining your mental well-being:

1. Get Dressed

You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident and helps draw the line between being at work and being at home,” says Heather Yurovsky, career coach and the founder of Shatter & Shine. “Feeling human” might seem like an odd thing to have to actively think of, but it’s especially important at a time like this when the breakdown of your everyday routines might make you feel cut off from your “normal” life and the “real” world.

Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2020 and we’re all about to have a lot of video meetings.

2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office

One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. “For some people, it becomes very blurry,” says career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well.

Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. That’s why it’s also important not to spread yourself across your home—while it might seem great to be able to move from desk to couch to bed, if you let your laptop creep into your downtime space, it makes it harder to keep your work separate from your home life.

3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours

Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier.

“The biggest difference between working from home and working in the office is that you are in charge of your environment and have to treat yourself like an employee,” Yurovsky says. This means holding yourself accountable, but also recognizing when enough is enough, just as a good manager might. “If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning.”

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Either before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check-in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day.

“Do not default to email if you would have spoken to a coworker face-to-face while at the office,” Yurovsky says. You might find it’s best to check in with your boss and coworkers over the phone, Slack, or through video chat. This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to maximize your working hours. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Work Remotely Without Working All the Time

Working remotely has it’s perks (can you say “zero commute?”) But when your home is also your office, separating your work life and your personal life can be a challenge. And without that separation, work can start spreading throughout your home and invading the rest of your life. Not to mention the psychological effect, making it hard to disengage, and spend time on other things that are just as important (like your self-care, family, friends, and hobbies.)

Keeping your work life from infringing on your personal life is a must if you want to feel like you’re thriving, healthy, and balanced. But how exactly do you do that? Here are a few tips from the Ignite Your Potential award-winning coaches.

Work Parallel Schedules

When you work from home—and do so around the clock—it can feel like you and your family are ships passing in the night. The best way to combat this? Keep similar schedules. “I work on my business while my husband is at work. That gives me 10 hours to do my thing,” says Anna Kat Napier, founder of Boss Girl Launch Pad. “I need to be able to stop my work when he gets home so that we can catch up with each other and spend dinnertime together.” Scheduling parallel hours (for example, doing work while the kids are at school or during the hours your spouse is at work) will allow you to get things done but still have time to connect.

Set a Firm Stopping Point

It’s easy to tell yourself “just five more minutes” or “just one more email.” But working crazy hours can throw your body out of whack. “Your body is used to operating on a schedule,” says Kim Perkins, organizational psychologist and chief behavioral scientist at work and culture consulting firm NOBL. “Kids get up at the same time, they go to school at the same time, and this builds rhythms and habits—and it’s very easy to know what you’re supposed to be doing and when you’re supposed to be doing it. Even as adults, we need that for a sense of consistency—because otherwise it just takes too long to figure out where we are and what we’re supposed to be doing.” Setting a firm stopping point every day—and sticking to it—will help you keep from overworking.

Shut the Office Door

Ever heard of the saying “out of sight, out of mind?” Well, that also applies to your workspace.

“One of the tricks I use to separate my personal from professional life while I work from home is to shut my office door during weekends,” says Angela Zade, digital marketing manager for travel software company Trondent Development Corp. It’s her way of communicating to herself: “The Office Is Closed!” If you use a dedicated room as your home office, step away at the end of the day, and leave all your work gear, like your laptop and work phone behind. In other words, literally and figuratively, shut the door on work so that you can pursue personal projects, family time, or just good, old-fashioned relaxing without feeling the pull of the office.

When you work from home, it’s so easy to be tuned into work 24/7. But remember, your home is your home first—and your office second. And if you want the work-life balance you desperately crave, you need to treat it that way.

We hope these tips help you navigate your home and work life with ease. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to find a balance between working and relaxing. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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