Even though I am a social person, there is nothing I like more than working from home. It is especially nice on cold, rainy days when I don’t have to drive on icy roads! Plus, I can accomplish so much without interruptions. So, that I don’t become a hermit, I plan times to meet regularly with clients. Working from home is not without its perils. It is easy to fritter one’s time in “busyness” rather than business. I have developed a schedule that allows me to settle down and accomplish a lot of work.
So, here’s what works for me.
1. I set office hours and stick to them. I generally work in my office from 9-3 with a 30 minute lunch break. On the Friday before the next work week begins, I set my schedule knowing that it may change. I try to schedule medical appointments, workers, car repairs, etc, early in the morning on the same day so that I can get it all done. Huge chunks of time to dedicate myself to work are better for me than bits of time sandwiched here and there in my busy day. When I am waiting for my car to be serviced or my doctor to see me, I will read work-related emails or other materials. Generally, I do not send any emails on the fly as it is too easy to make mistakes. When I respond, I compose the text, re-read it and only then type in the recipient’s email address.
2. I exercise, shower, and dress before going into my home office. I chose clothing that is comfortable but suitable if I am called out suddenly to meet a client. This usually means a nice blouse, slacks, make-up and appropriate hair style. I don’t subscribe to the idea of working in my pj’s or sweats. It does not work for me.
3. I schedule breaks and a lunch time. I treat myself to two or three 15-minute breaks as a time to refresh my brain and body so that I can continue to work more effectively. This may mean stretching, grabbing some water or tea, or maybe taking a brisk walk down the sidewalk. I take a 30-minute lunch break to eat a salad, protein and vegetables. No sweets and no carbs!
4. I have a dedicated office. It is clean, well-lit and organized. I have what I need in the room. My work and supplies are not spread around the house or in my car. I do not eat or drink in my office.
5. I set a pleasing atmosphere. I have “top down bottom up” shades that I open to get natural light and a view but keep closed enough so that I don’t see people walking on the sidewalk in front of my house. I play soft music with no commercials. I have good lighting and an overhead fan for warm days.
6. I adhere to my 45:15 schedule. I set the timer for 45 minutes and work like a demon until the bell rings. Then, I reset the timer for 15 minutes so that I can take a break, walk around the block, or cuddle my dog. I do whatever I need at that moment to keep me on track. I repeat this cycle five to six times between 9-3.
7. I clean my desk, file, and scan at the end of the work day. I then organize my work for the next day. This calm, steady approach allows me to focus on key projects, to meet deadlines and to relish my time out of the office with clients and colleagues. I am like the tortoise who does not rush or waste energy but gets the job done!