Working From Home? Structure Your Day!

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Back before we were all asked to stay home in quarantine, my day came flying at me from every direction and I would spend my day tackling each activity. Early board meeting…done. Team meeting…done. Lunch meeting…done. Coffee meetups, webinars, blog postings, evening networking, all done and typically all planned weeks in advance. Then it all stopped.

Now I am working from home and all of that contact with people, all of that business-as-usual has changed. Now there are even more and different distractions, so my days need to be structured differently. One of these tips I use may be of help, and who couldn’t use a little bit of structure:

  1. Get up and make your bed. A few years ago, Admiral Raven told us in a commencement speech at the University of Texas (Google it) that making your bed first thing in the morning will not only mean that you completed one thing, but it would also make you motivated to get something else done that day. It works. It also means you get to climb back into a perfectly made bed at the end of the day.

  2. Get dressed. Yes, we can make that outfit a little more casual because we are working from home but there is a lot to be said about wearing an outfit for the day you plan to have. Maybe it is the “business mullet.” Business up top, party on the bottom…because video conferencing! Whatever choice you choose to make sure it is something that says “let’s get this done” not one that says “nothing” because you are going to accomplish either one or the other.

  3. Add things to your calendar. I am always amazed at how quickly the day flies and how at the end of it I feel like I haven’t completed anything. So much like my workday was planned out before, so why not just keep doing that? I block out time to finish projects, participate in video calls, time for lunch. As I have told many people, if it is not in my calendar, it doesn’t get done. Apparently, that is more true than I thought.

  4. Speaking of scheduling, you may have to add to that calendar blocks of time to exercise, read, help your children with school. And don’t just walk right over that time, your time is yours. Don’t let people randomly interrupt you, tell them you have scheduled a time for them. Also, exercise or moving around is very important at this time that we want to stay healthy. Stand up and get moving exactly when you said you would.

  5. Have a stop time. It is very easy to keep working while you are at home. You need to be able to unplug from work and BE HOME. The day is over, walk away from the job. Sometimes we get a little trapped in our own thoughts because you didn’t think that you were productive enough during the day…just a few more minutes can lead to an hour or more. Stop. It will still all be there tomorrow. We need breaks from work in order to work better.

  6. Take breaks. We are all dealing with a lot. This is the first pandemic for all of us and so far, we are doing pretty good. Find the fun, find the happiness. Take a 5, 20, 60-minute break each day to do something that brings you joy. It could be a hobby, a walk, a show on Netflix, your choice. We can’t forget that this world provides us with opportunities for joy. This daily recalibration will make this all a bit easier.

Okay, you are ready to go. Plan your day either individually or a week at a time. Make time to connect with vendors, business contacts, and friends. Plan some joy! We CAN work through this and we CAN be productive doing it.