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8 Tips To Create A Work Or Study At-Home Schedule

Mar 24, 2020

Any employee or student who works or does school remotely from home knows that it’s not a picnic! It takes skill to figure out how to focus and create a great work zone inside your home. When you are meeting the demands of freelance clients, employers, mentors, and family, it can be difficult to meet all the tasks required of you. It’s easy to get sidetracked or distracted by your kitchen, TV, family, and the comforts of your own space when you’re working or studying at home. Whether you work-from-home full-time or part-time as an employee, do freelance work, or do virtual online school, work-from-home jobs and opportunities are abounding. As work-from-home jobs and virtual schooling becomes more popular, employees and students need to be prepared for how focus on their tasks and take advantage of the opportunity.

For most people, creating a schedule the night before will help them know what they need to do the next day. When you do virtual study or have a work-from-home job, your schedule may include household chores, lunch, time with family, appointments, as well as your work or studies. At the end of the day, look forward to tomorrow and see what things you need to prepare for. Then you can base your schedule around that. It’s smart to have a semi-regular routine for the days of the week so you can better know what to expect. 

Creating a schedule is crucial to being productive and efficient when doing work-at-home or study-at-home tasks. Without a schedule it’s easy for your days to fly by and you’ve accomplished very little or nothing at all! As a worker or student, your employer, clients, or school has expectations for what you can accomplish. These tips will help you create a perfect study or work at-home schedule that will help you set a flexible, efficient, and productive routine.

1. Don't let lazy mornings get you off track.

When you’re working or doing schoolwork at home, it’s very tempting to sleep in and waste your morning away. But research shows that workers and students tend to be our most productive in the morning. When you’re working or studying full-time or part-time at home, it’s important to take advantage of those early focus hours. You don’t have to start your day at the crack of dawn, but avoid sleeping in too late or lazing around, scrolling social media in the morning, wasting important time. Set a specific hour when you want to get out of bed each morning and set your alarm clock. Even though your commute is just to your desk in the next room, an early hour start to your day could lead to extremely high productivity.  

For many people, the start of the day isn’t the best time for school or work tasks. You may have other responsibilities that take precedence during that time. That’s ok! It’s still smart to get out of bed and get a great start to the day, so when it is time to buckle down for school or work, you’ve gotten other things accomplished and you feel great about your productivity. Take the opportunity to get a head start on the day, no matter what work you're doing in that time. Your employer, clients, or professors will notice!

The hour and the way you start your day are both very important. It’s smart to create a schedule for your workday that gives you some time for breakfast and maybe even working out. This can be a great way to get your energy up and get excited for the day ahead. Because you don’t have to commute into school or work, you can utilize that time to do a quick workout, go for a run, and make a healthy breakfast. This will do wonders for your day and can help you get in a focused zone for your work. Allow time in the morning for breakfast, and really work to build exercise time into your schedule at some point during the day. 

Another easy thing to do is allow remote study or work-from-home jobs to mean you spend the day in your PJs. But when you just roll out of bed and try to start working, it can set the tone for your day, but not in a good way. A great morning and work day routine involves getting ready for the day. Taking a shower, doing your hair, putting on work clothes, and really preparing for a productive day can do wonders for your efficiency. You would probably get up and get ready if you were going into the office or into class, and you should treat online studying or work-from-home jobs with that same attitude. Build time into your schedule to allow you to get ready so you can really set a positive, productive tone for your workday.

2. Set routines you can stick to.

If you work or do education remotely, you may also have responsibilities to clean, cook, shop, care for children, and more. It’s valuable skill to be able to create routines for those responsibilities that you can revolve your full-time or part-time work and study around. If you know which day of the week you have appointments, you can know when to avoid scheduling meetings or tests. Keeping these consistent week-over-week will also help you, your family, and maybe your employer understand what to expect from you, when. For example, if you know you’ll do grocery shopping on Monday morning, you can get it out of the way and plan out meetings, projects, and work hours around that task. If you know you have to pick up children at a certain time, you can let your boss know that you won’t be online for that hour or so. If your family knows that the hour after dinner is your work time, they can be prepared to do their own thing during that time. These kinds of routines can help you set expectations and create habits that will work for your schooling and work.

3. Plan your days and weeks.

An important part of creating a schedule is to sit down and actually lay it out, not try and wing it. Once during the end of the week, sit down and look at the next week’s schedule and tasks. You can take that opportunity to remind yourself about upcoming meetings, appointments, deadlines, and more. Then you’ll know how to prioritize each of the days of that week. At the end of your work day, look toward tomorrow to see what tasks you need to accomplish and create your schedule to prepared for what’s ahead. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t have to waste any time trying to figure out what the day holds, you’ll already be ready!

4. Create a to-do list.

When you lay out your schedule for the day or the week, create a to-do list of the things you’d like to accomplish. Undoubtedly things will crop up during any employee's workday, but when you have laid out some things that you want or need to accomplish, it can help guide your schedule. A to-do list is a great, accessible reminder of what needs to come next. You can prioritize your to-do list so you’re able to get the most important or timely things done, and you always have something next that you can work on when you have spare time. You can also jump between projects if something is getting tedious, and give your mind a break and a chance to latch onto something new.

5. Plan time for breaks.

When laying out your schedule, it’s important to set aside time for some breaks. Plan time for meals, time with your family, and time for yourself as part of your workday. If you were in the office or in class, you’d have some time to chat with fellow employees or friends, go to lunch, etc. It’s important to plan those kinds of activities into your online schooling or work. These breaks are vital for your morale and motivation, and can be used like a reward to help you get going on a project or assignment. A 10 or 15 minute break every hour or two can help you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

6. Remove distractions.

When you create a schedule, you’ll eliminate dead time during the day that could be used for distracting, non-meaningful things. It’s OK to plan some time to scroll through social media or watch TV, but creating a schedule will help you avoid having the whole day turn to distractions. Creating a schedule will also help you reduce distractions from your responsibilities, family, or friends. If you can let your friends and family know when you’ll be doing work, they can help keep distractions to a minimum while you’re busy. A spouse, kids, and friends can all work to help you stay on your schedule and remove your distractions when you’re working. You can also create a work space that is distraction free to help you.

7. Communicate your schedule to family, fellow employees, and bosses.

Communication is the key to any great schedule. If you work or go to school at home, it’s important to talk to your teachers, advisors, colleagues, and family all about your schedule. When you have open communication, you're more likely to meet the expectations of everyone around you. When you tell your fellow employee or boss what your schedule will look like, they’ll know when to plan on you for meetings and projects. When you tell your professor or mentor about your other responsibilities, they’ll be able to help you create a schedule that will work for your needs. And when you tell your family when you need to get work done or have meetings, they will know how to avoid distracting you and when to expect your attention back. Communication is crucial for everyone getting what they need.

8. Be prepared to be flexible.

While it’s great to create a schedule and have a plan, it’s important to know that plans change! You need to be ready for flexibility and expect the unexpected! Your workday could suddenly be turned upside down by a surprise meeting or a fire to put out. Your schooling could be interrupted by other family needs that take precedence. This is life! That means that flexibility is key to your success. When you work or do schooling at home, create a schedule and understand that some days you just won’t get everything done, that the schedule will fall apart. That’s OK! 

When you work or do school at home, your schedule can be your best friend. It can help lead you to more productive and efficient days and weeks. Research shows that you can be even more effective when working from home, and creating a schedule is a key way to help you be more effective as you work. 

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