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Working from home is such an incredible blessing; you have so much flexibility to run your own schedule and do your own thing. Sometimes, TOO much flexibility!! It can be very difficult scheduling your life when working from home when surrounded by distractions and demands on your time. How do you manage it all? How did working from home become BUSIER than working in a traditional office setting?
Chances are, you may not be busier, but rather you are less focuses on tasks because of all of the distractions, and it takes LONGER to refocus on a task once you get distracted. Entrepreneur.com has a great article on why you’re having trouble focusing on a task, you may fall into some of these traps.
Scheduling your life when working from home has never been so important, it allows you to build that focus back into your day and be more intentional with your time.
Scheduling your life more effectively when working from home:
- Live by your calendar – whether your calendar resides online (such as Google Calendar or your Outlook), or you use a traditional paper calendar, make sure you adhere to the items you put into your calendar and do not deviate! Protect it fiercely. If you use a paper calendar, there are a few outstanding tools and planners out there that not only acts as your calendar, but also tracks your goals!!! These 2 tools are FANTASTIC! Check out Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and Carrie Green’s Passion Planner for entrepreneurs.
- Schedule high important tasks during your Biological Prime Time – your biological prime time is that precious window in your day when you are at your most alert, most creative and most energized to tackle strategic work. This is NOT the time that you should be doing laundry, or catching up on watching The View. Chris Bailey’s work on productivity addresses BPT – you can check out his work here.
- Schedule Big Rocks and Gravel – The notion of defining your tasks as either “big rocks” or “gravel” comes from Franklin Covey’s incredible productivity book The 5 Choices. “Big rocks” are your strategic projects (which I eluded to above in point #2), but also schedule time to tackle the mundane tasks, and loads of emails and voicemails. Batching those also creates focus, and thus takes less time to get through when all done at once.
- Schedule your exercise – you cannot let this be the last thing you schedule, or it will never get scheduled. Plunk it in your calendar, do not answer your phone or check your emails as you’re about to head out to the gym or go for a run. Protect it fiercely. A healthy you is a smarter you.
- Group block appointments – if you do need to commute to get to the office once in a while, or to see clients, try to clump them together with other appointments and limit your commute and travel time. Same can be said for phone calls in the office – try to group block your phone appointments and stay in your focused zone throughout the block of appointments.
- Protect your work time – like a fierce mama bear, protect your time in the office and separate your work from your personal life when working at home. Time marches on, and your family/friends can have your after-hours time, but you need to FOCUS on your work at hand during your set work hours. Be relentless in this.
- Take your work with you – Some of us chose to work from home so we could be there for our families more. For myself, I have two very busy sons, and a lot of my work is done at the hockey rink or the coffee shop while my son is practicing. Sometimes your family operates during your biological prime time, so ensure you’re using some of that time on strategic projects. Sometimes family life is during times of the day where you can power through a ton of mundane tasks and get them off your agenda. Can’t take your laptop? Take a notebook and start making notes about projects, to-do lists, etc. Or take an industry magazine with you and catch up on the latest trends.
- Forget “work life balance” and focus on “life”. In my opinion, work-life balance is a myth. It suggests that work and life are these separate personalities, and its up to us to keep these personalities away from one another. I believe work and life, especially when you work from home, is simply called “life”. It means we go to the gym in the middle of the day, but take our work with us to the beach. It means we fold laundry during our lunch break (which is only 20 minutes instead of the hour our corporation used to give us), but we answer emails at 10:00 at night because we have to tend to other important matters in the morning. Sometimes separating work and life is not in our best interests for being strategic with our time. Sometimes blending to the two is what gets us incredible creative results.
Even if you live by all the above principles, distractions will still come your way when you work from home. Scheduling your life does not mean rigidity and inflexibility; practice rolling with the punches and hone your refocus skills to get back on track once the distraction passes.
Not sure if you’re cut out to work from home? Try this revealing self-evaluation tool to learn how you will work best working from home.
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