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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a break! After 75 minutes or so of focus, you’ve earned it.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Back to emails and other correspondence one more time before the end of the day—it never ends, we know!
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.