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How to Hone Your Schedule When You Work From Home

A woman's hands holding a smartphone over her laptop as a cat lying on the desk paws her arm.
Creative Lab/Shutterstock

Working from home might allow you some extra freedom, but it still requires dedication and motivation. Your schedule can change from day to day, so you have to hone your work plan to keep things going smoothly. These tips can help you stay on schedule.

Be Flexible

You might have found it easy to set up your basic work-at-home schedule, but what do you do when something inevitably messes it up?  Whether you’re single or not, a parent or not, stuff happens. How you deal with that “stuff” determines how off-schedule you get.

It’s important to be flexible when you work from home. If you have pets or kids, you’re more likely to be interrupted. Rather than allowing those interruptions to ruin your day, or getting angry at those who cause them, allow for some flexibility.

Try to schedule an extra half-hour at the end of your usual schedule each day to make up for any lost time.

Keep a Calendar

I would never remember anything if it weren’t for the calendar hanging next to the desk in my home office. It reminds me of uncommon work deadlines, meetings, and things that have nothing to do with work.

You can use an on- or offline calendar, or a planner that allows you to include more details about upcoming business meetings or deadlines. Many people prefer an online calendar because they can sync it with their phones and get automated reminders. Others like a distraction-free paper calendar.

Use the format that works best for you, but just make sure you check it daily.

Set Reminders

Even if you’re a die-hard paper calendar person, you might want to consider setting up a basic virtual calendar just for reminders. You can set it to ping you via email or on your phone within the time window you prefer, such as an hour before a conference call, or the day before a big work event.

You won’t always be at your desk when a deadline or meeting is coming up. Sometimes, I work in the living room or at other locations. Getting notifications ensures that I don’t miss out on opportunities or clients.

Set Deadlines

A woman typing her laptop.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Speaking of deadlines, not all assignments come with one. Whether your projects are self-assigned or come from a client or contract, if they lack a deadline, set one. If you have a set date and time by which you need to complete something, it’s a great motivator to get the work done.

Deadlines are especially great if you have to post items to sell online—you can shoot for 10 new items each week or month, depending on your business. They’re also helpful if you write or publish books, or even for finishing craft items.

If you have a craft business, don’t make your deadline for new products the day you need them. Rather, set it a week or two ahead, so you have time to price your items and prep for the event.

Schedule Breaks

Taking breaks when you work from home is so important. When you punch the clock at a store or factory, you get time for lunch and other breaks. When you work from home, you have to set your own break schedule. Everyone needs to take a breather here and there and eat lunch.

Why are breaks so important? As a writer, breaks give my mind a chance to reset and come back with fresh thoughts for my articles, stories, poems, and books. But breaks are important no matter what kind of work you do. Not taking them can lead to burnout, which can cause fatigue, and even cause you to resent your job.

Complete Difficult Tasks First

One last thing that can help you streamline your workday or week is to do the most complicated stuff first. It can be hard to force yourself to do difficult or timely tasks first, but if you get them out of the way, the rest of your work schedule will feel like a breeze.

The same is true for the work you like least. If there’s a project you’re dreading, dive into that one first. Get it out of the way, and then enjoy the rest of your work.

Harder projects are more likely to make you procrastinate, but if you get them done immediately, it will prevent you from having to push deadlines.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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