The past few months have been anything but “business as usual.” With many now working from home, this new work environment presents its own set of challenges and opportunities.
Working from home can have a whole host of distractions that can get in the way of your productivity, such as: home chores, like laundry and dishes staring you in the face, and other family members pulling you away from your work. How can you find time to get your work done as well as your home and family responsibilities?
Here is my “Top 5 to thrive guide” for working from home.
1) Get clear on
your objectives If you sit down to work without clear objectives in mind, it is easy to get pulled into distractions.
- First write down the major objectives for the year, then each quarter.
- Next, determine 1-3 major personal and 1-3 major professional objectives to be completed in a quarter (around 12 weeks).
- Work backwards to create monthly milestones for those objectives.
- Then, looking at these milestones, determine the goals for each week, and what daily practices will help you meet these objectives.
- Sunday night or Monday morning, plan out your week.
- Each morning, get the most important activities for the day done first thing. Not only does this create momentum for the rest of the day and week, it helps you reach your goals and feels great!
2) Create a schedule template We all lead full lives, and it can feel impossible to fit everything in. One thing that helps is to create a schedule template of your week. What’s a schedule template? It’s a template of how you would like to ideally spend your time. To create one, make a graph with days of the week across the top, and times down the side. Write in set obligations. For example, Monday morning online staff meeting from 9-10. Son’s soccer practice Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5, etc. Then look at your personal and professional goals/projects and your decided upon daily and weekly activities. Block off time on your schedule. For example, workout M-F 6-7 a.m., work in yard T, TH, 7-8 p.m. Remember to block out time for your most important priorities, including personal and family time. This helps you say no to less important things and stay on track for accomplishing your projects and goals. It also helps you see where you have flexible time.
3) Limit time for email
and social media
The constant ding of your phone or the flashing notifications on your computer can consume a lot of time. If your job allows it, it’s nice to turn off notifications for email and social media and close all tabs on your computer but the one you are working on. If possible, just check them two or three set times throughout the day.
4) Schedule in productive work breaks
Studies show that we are more effective when we take a break from work about every 90 minutes. Taking a break from your work doesn’t have to mean you do nothing, it can mean just doing something different. This is a great way to chip away at home tasks. You may want to set an actual timer. If you typically work on your computer. When the timer goes off, you can work on something else on your list that is completely different. You might put a load of laundry in the washing machine, walk around the block, weed for 10 minutes, eat a healthy snack, vacuum the stairs, or help a family member with school work. Taking this break creates energy, and it is good for your body to change things up. It also helps you chip away at your home tasks in planned small chunks instead of having these tasks sidetrack your whole day.
5) Schedule time
for interruptions If you are working at home with other family members, it can be helpful to let them know when you will be available and when you won’t. For example, you may say, “I am working on a proposal for the next hour. Unless it’s an emergency, if you need me for something, I’ll be available at 11:00.” Then, at 11:00, go check in with family members.
Working from home can have its advantages and disadvantages. If you are working from home, set yourself up for success by using this five-step guide: 1. Get clear on your objectives. 2. Create a schedule template. 3. Limit time for email and social media. 4. Schedule in productive work breaks. 5. Schedule time for interruptions.
While work may have taken on a different face, this can be an opportunity to learn new skills, to be more disciplined and productive, to not just survive, but to thrive.