Everyone thinks that it is wonderful to work from home, and it is — most of the time. You can run errands in the middle of the day and you never have to ask permission to leave the office. But creating a work schedule is one of the major pitfalls of working from home. Because you are free to do what you like with your day, it’s easy to fall into an unproductive schedule that doesn’t allow you to maximize your time.
Creating a work schedule when you work from home takes discipline and time-management skills, but you can do it if you focus on the task at hand and if you stick with it once you’ve created a schedule. Saying that you’ll work from eight o’clock until five o’clock is all well in good, but if you knock of at one to watch a favorite television show, then you might as well not have created a schedule at all.
Set Schedule or Day By Day?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want a set schedule or a more flexible one. You can create a schedule for yourself every day when you wake up, changing it depending on your to-do list, or you can have a set routine that you follow regardless of the day or time. Creating a schedule when you work from home usually means setting up a routine, so most people are more productive with a set schedule. However, if you have children or other obligations, that might not be feasible.
Determine Administrative Tasks
Your next step in creating a work schedule when you work at home is to determine your administrative tasks. These are the things that you must do every day in order to keep your business afloat. For example, you might want to set aside time to answer e-mails, send invoices and write in your blog. These are the tasks that should be accomplished first so that you have the rest of the day for project-specific jobs.
Plan for Contingency Time
Whatever you do, don’t create a schedule that is outlined by the minute because you’ll need contingency time. Everyone has to deal with interruptions, such as answering the telephone or using the restroom. Don’t over-schedule yourself when you work from home or you’ll never get anything done. As you get used to working from home, you’ll learn how much contingency time you need and you’ll be able to plan accordingly. For now, leave at least an hour reprieve in your work schedule to deal with interruptions.
Establish Discretionary Time
When creating a work schedule, you will also need to have discretionary time, which will probably be the largest block of your day. Discretionary time is the available time to work on projects, reports or whatever else needs done right now. For example, a freelance website designer might be working on one project on Tuesday, then a completely different on on Wednesday. He or she will use discretionary time for both projects.
Evaluate Your Schedule Weekly
At the end of every week, you’ll need to evaluate your work schedule and decide if it’s working for you. If you need to move some tasks around, then you should — work will be much more enjoyable. Feel free to play around with different schedules to see which work best for you, but don’t become so flexible that you never get anything done.