How to Structure Your Workday So You Can Work from Anywhere
Being a freelancer definitely has its perks! After all, you get to set your own hours, abide your my own dress code, have the cutest furry coworker, and to top it off, you can work from anywhere you want. Although working from home sounds like an ideal situation, it does present challenges and isn’t for everyone.
Coming from a freelancer on the side, I often get questions such as ‘how do you stay organized?’ ‘do you find yourself constantly working?’ and ‘how do you avoid distractions?’. In the effort to help answer these types of questions and to help those who are struggling with structuring their own work-from-home days, I’ve outlined my typical workday schedule below and have included some tips that have helped me along the way.
My Daily Routine
6:30 AM Wake Up
It is important to not let the comforts of home affect me on my workdays. Even though no time card or supervisor is holding me accountable to be at work on time, I want to stay in a “going to the office” mindset. A productive morning helps to ready my mind and motivates me to start working.
Between waking up and starting down my to-do list, I usually squeeze in a quick workout or run around the neighborhood. I find that by doing physical activity first thing, I’m able to sit at my desk and work a lot better than mornings when I sleep in or don’t work out at all. After a workout, it’s time to clean up and grab some coffee.
8:00 AM Study Planner and To-Do Lists
As a serial list maker, I end each day by creating a ‘top priority’ list for the next day. By doing this, I’m able to visualize how I should be dividing out my time to accomplish the tasks that I have set out to do. I generally have 2-3 different lists going at one time: a monthly view calendar with deadlines and important dates noted for both work and personal, a more in-depth weekly view highlighting important meetings, errands, and special projects, and the never-ending to-do list. This is where I write new projects/tasks and assign numbers 1-5 to focus and work through as they pop into my inbox. I find it seriously satisfying to be able to physically cross out tasks as they are completed.
Creating lists also helps me to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day as I can see just how much I was able to cross off. Additionally, it helps me to better balance and separate my work life with my home life. If you do not find a separation between the two, you will quite literally be living at the office.
8:15 AM Start Working!
“Work, work, work, work, work, work” – Rihanna
12:30 – 1:30 PM Lunch Break
My lunch break rarely looks the same. Some days I meet my husband or a friend for lunch. Other days I use it to start a load of laundry, sweep the floors, or throw dinner in the crockpot. Usually, I like to use it as an opportunity to grab my dog and go on a 30-minute or so walk. I am also guilty of taking full advantage of working remotely and turn my lunch break into a nap break. However, if I’m loaded down with work because I’m trying to work ahead or have a huge project due, I’m most likely going to being working through my lunch with a sandwich in hand.
1:30 PM Change of Scenery
For me, it is so important that I leave the house at least once a day! I find that it not only helps my productivity but dramatically increases my mood. I typically head to a local coffee shop or Barnes and Noble to finish out my workday. There are some days where I don’t relocate. On those days, taking a walk over my lunch hour or going out for dinner help to relieve some of the stir crazy.
There are also ways that you can help change your work atmosphere at home that doesn’t involve having to leave the house. Experiment with lighting candles or an aromatherapy machine. Create different workspaces within your home office, maybe you work from a couch or comfy chair in the morning and move to a desk in the afternoon, or vice versa. Sometimes, something as simple as a new Spotify playlist can make a huge difference in resetting your focus.
1:30 – 6:00 PM Finish Strong!
Find an oversized coffee mug, fill it up, and grind it out! It doesn’t matter where you work, you can always fall victim to the afternoon slump. The hardest part of working from home is being the one who holds yourself accountable. Once you have set your work hours, make sure that you stick to them. Make sure your family knows that just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean that you’re not working. You can’t drop everything and go shopping or spend an hour on the phone catching up. However, if an emergency happens, by all means, tend to it!
I find that it helps to have a dedicated workspace or home office in your house to help stay in the correct mindset and to avoid distractions. Maybe you’re in an apartment and don’t have an extra room to set aside as an office. In that case, setting up a desk in the corner or reserving a section of your dinner table can achieve the same effect. If you try to work on your couch or bed, you will likely find yourself dozing off, watching TV, or falling into a housework wormhole.
6:00 PM Plan Out Tomorrow
As I mentioned earlier, I like to start my day knowing exactly what it is I need to get done and where to start. The best time to determine what is most important is while everything is still fresh. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to do a review and plan ahead is my favorite way to round out my workday. For me, it’s a great summary and clear ending point for me to change into my home life mindset. It helps to eliminate the urge to grab my computer at 9 PM and start typing away at emails or creating reminders.
6:15 PM Enjoy Being Home
Hopefully walking through my workday helps you to structure yours!
By: Miranda Hardesty Hoffpauir