While there is a freedom in being able to set your own schedule, it can actually take a lot of discipline to be productive when working at home. Things such as the television, household chores, and social media have a distracting way of pulling at your attention. However, to achieve career and financial success means the work has to get done. Follow these tips and tricks to stay on schedule during the workday.
Set Specific Hours
Designating certain hours of your day as work time can help you mentally get into work mode. The blocks of time are strictly for working and not going for a walk, playing with the kids, or reorganizing your bedroom closet. Decide on a start time and stick to it. Designating 8:00 a.m. as the start of your workday, for example, can help you to avoid morning procrastination, such as hitting the snooze button too many times. A clear end time, such as 5:00 p.m., provides a deadline for when the day’s work must be finished. It also helps to separate your work and private life responsibilities.
Set a Schedule for the Day
Setting specific hours is just the start; you need to maximize the time you blocked out for work. Create a to-do list first thing in the morning that lists all of the tasks that must be completed before the day is over, including any phone calls or emails that need to be made. Take it a step further by determining which tasks will be done when, according to urgency and your natural ability to be efficient. For example, if you are on a deadline for an article, and you concentrate better in the morning, tackle any writing work first thing.
If you find that you barely make a dent in your to-do list on a regular basis, it may be helpful to track your time to determine how the day gets away from you. Often, you may not realize where you’re going off the rails in terms of productivity. Be diligent about documenting your time and tasks for one week, either manually using pen and paper or by using time-tracking software. Record everything that you do during your workday and the time spent on each particular activity. Once you see patterns of where time is wasted, you can swap bad habits with those that are more industrious.
Limit Online Social Interaction
Even if you start to work on time every day and have a rock-solid to-do list, you can easily be thrown off course by social media. A quick check of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, for example, can rapidly turn into an hour or two of wasted time. Designate certain times during the day for social media breaks, such as while you’re eating lunch or possibly after dinner. Check and respond to your personal email during these same times. Separating professional and personal tasks can help you stay on track.