Art by Ali Edwards
One of the great things about working from home — whether it’s soley focusing on home management and your kids, or if it’s to bring in additional income alongside your work at home — is that you can set your own schedule. No clocking in, no hectic board meetings, no fighting traffic.
But the flip side of that coin is that your work at home can unintentionally take a back seat with too lax a schedule. Or no schedule at all. Waking up with no agenda can all too easily mean a day spent in your pajamas, with no aim and no direction.
That’s why I think it’s incredibly helpful to create a loosely-held, penciled-in routine to my week at home. On Sunday evenings, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and, with my husband, chat about the week ahead — what’s on our dockets, what errands need running, and a quick financial update.
From this discussion, I then create a basic routine for my week. I say basic, because it is so important that I don’t hold this schedule as gospel. Things change, lunch plans are forgotten, and kids need last-minute doctor’s appointments. But if I know there’s a basic routine to my week, I can approach my days with purpose and direction.
Write down this week’s routine, so that you can start the habit of making a loosely-held schedule each week.
Mostly you, since it’s your routine. But check with your spouse to see if they have any appointments that affect you, and if there’s anything you can add to your week that can be of service to them.
Not too long; around 30 minutes or so. You may fiddle with a program or outline at the beginning, but once you find your groove, you just fill it out each week, and you’re good to go in a matter of minutes.
Chatting with your spouse about your upcoming week, and then crafting a basic routine for your week, either with pen and paper, or on the computer. Then hang it somewhere where you’ll see it often.
A do-able, flexible, predictable flow to your days, so that you have purpose and vigor in your work at home, and so you’ll know each morning what your day is about. Also, it’ll help you have more quality down time, because it will be intentional.
Ideas for creating a weekly routine at home
• I like to carve out my day in chunks of activities, rather than set-in-stone blocks of time. I do my best to wake up around the same time every day, and we do our best to eat breakfast at the same time so that my husband can start his work, but after this, we prefer to stick to a flowing routine rather than a specific schedule.
• I use my weekly checklist to check off things that need doing for the week. Then, when I pick out a few tasks for each day, it’s less overwhelming than looking at one big list with a lot to do.
• It’s good to eat your frog first thing. I also like to schedule in tasks that require more energy when my body has the most energy — soon after breakfast, in my case. Then I focus on lower-energy tasks in the mid-afternoon, when my energy level is at its lowest. Basically, I work with my natural rhythms, instead of fighting them.
• I “clock out.” A mom never stops being a mom, of course, but once the kids are in bed, it’s good to have a little quality down time with your spouse or by yourself, so that you’re recharged for the next day’s work. It’s hard to do, I know, when you finally get some free time to pick up the mess and finish folding the laundry. But have a cut-off time, so that you don’t lose your mind with your never-ending to-do list. The laundry can wait for tomorrow.
• Write it down. You can create your routine in Google Calendar, in Excel, or on a scrap of looseleaf paper. Whatever you choose, though, keep it visible throughout the day, and keep it user-friendly. Don’t make it so complicated that it’s unreadable.
• Hold to it loosely. Be flexible, as your schedule will almost certainly change a few times. And that’s okay — it’s there to serve you, not the other way around.
A typical week for me
Below is a screenshot of my weekly routine I have in my Google Calendar. Yes, it has times attached to it, but that’s just because of the particular program. The only times I adhere to are the items in brown. You can click to enlarge it, if you like.
Before the end of the day, craft out a simple schedule for this week. Include all your work responsibilities, and perhaps add some personal things you want to make sure and do (exercise, free reading time, or a particular bedtime, perhaps).
Do you enjoy having a predictable routine? What makes your days at home run smoother?