How to keep a good schedule when you work from home

Working from home sounds like a dream come true to most people. However, it's easy to become distracted by laundry, emails, Facebook, lunches and the thousands of chores to do around the house. Working from home means you are surrounded by temptation and you're only held accountable by yourself. Today we're going to stop the distractions and set up a schedule for ourselves.

Working from home sounds like a dream come true to most people. However, it's easy to become distracted by laundry, emails, Facebook, lunches and the thousands of chores to do around the house. Working from home means you are surrounded by temptation and you're only held accountable by yourself. Today we're going to stop the distractions and set up a schedule for ourselves.

01. Figure out what you need to do

Take the evening before or sometime over your morning coffee to make a list. List all those things you want to get done today. If you need help making a list that will help you work towards your goals, download our Goal Cheatsheet Workbook at the end of this post.

When you have a set list of tasks, it makes it much easier to get focused on what needs to be done. You won't need to figure things out as you go, or pause writing a post to answer emails. Pick one task at a time and get it done.

02. Set your days

If you look at my schedule you can see I actually schedule in lazy time. This way when I'm watching Netflix, napping or on Facebook, I don't feel stressed. Scheduling time to relax can be more relaxing when you know you made time for it.

Even when you're really busy it's super important to make time for a break. If you go non-stop you will burn-out. The same thing can be said for getting enough sleep. I make sure I am in bed everyday at a reasonable time. I try to get a solid 6-8 hours of sleep every day.

I do leave my weekends fairly open as well. This lets me visit family, hangout with friends and spend the day being lazy. I also break up my schedule into two hour periods. If I finish a task early that is when I do other stuff like cleaning something up, emailing people, checking social media or whatever other little things I have to do.

Making the same schedule every day can get restrictive and boring. If you want to have a little more variety in your day, consider setting up your week by different days. For example, you can write content on Mondays, Update Social Media on Tuesdays, Work on Projects and Client work Wednesday and Fridays and Work on Admin Tasks every Thursday. 

Set up your days and your weeks to fit a schedule you'll enjoy. Personally, I like setting up my hardest days at the beginning of the week really helps me get as much done as possible and usually allows me to take a 3-day weekend. 

03. Allow for changes

We're not built to hustle all our lives. There are times in your life (especially in college, or after a new baby, or during a move) when you're going to have to hustle. Your days will be full and you'll be stressed and exhausted. But the whole point of hustling it to get you to a place where you can rest. Keep this in mind while you set up your day. Are you in a time of hustle, or are you in a rest period?

Flexibility is important too as you begin to schedule your daily tasks. If you planned lunch with a friend, be sure to move your day around. If you have a one-time meeting on Monday instead of your usual Thursday, let it be. Your life doesn't have to be perfectly structured to be well scheduled.

Let your schedule change and evolve as you find a plan that works best for your life.

04. Plan batch days

My friend Kelsey has an incredible blog post all about this, but for now, I'll summarize. Add one day per month to your calendar to use as a catch up day. Get all those little tasks done that you've put on the back burner for the last few weeks.

05. Use Batch Processing

When we are distracted from our work it takes us a long time to get back into our "zone". It's a human flaw that we all possess. Too often, we switch from writing a blog post, then to creating a graphic for the post, then formatting - and we lose our momentum. When you batch process, you're able to focus on one task and get into the "zone" so you can bust out 3-4 blog posts in one sitting, and then do the rest of the work later. This is a really effective way to create content for your business, so let's break down how you can use batch processing to write a blog post.

Blog Posts

  • Open up your preferred writing space - for me, this is google docs. I love the outline format that allows me to easily format my blog post once I move it into Squarespace. Create a document for each post you want to write. I like writing 4 posts at a time so that I get a month's worth of content done at a time. Now I open up the first doc and outline.
  • I outline the main topics I want to talk about. I use headers and sub-headers to break up the sections and I might write a sentence or two in each part just to remind me what I'm thinking about. I outline all 4 blog posts.
  • Next, I'll write the introduction. I have a small paragraph at the beginning of all my posts that talk about the post and give a brief overview of what will be covered. I always write these firsts so that I have a basic idea to follow as I write the post. I write the intro for all 4 blog posts.
  • After that I like to create the graphics for my blog posts - I do this in Canva where I can easily download and create all 4 graphics quickly using templates. I save these and upload them to my CoSchedule drafts (which I create at the beginning of each year - read more about that in my Ultimate Content Guide).
  • Now I write. I'll work on one post at a time and write the bulk of my content. This is only my first draft, so I don't worry about punctuation or spelling. I mark sections where I want videos, images or infographics by using brackets like [video here] or [link to XYZ blog post here] so I can go back later. I write the rough draft on all my blog posts.
  • Then, I have our content editor look over the post and tell me if things aren't clear, if I need more detail, etc. And I have THEM format, correct spelling and do that busy work. This is what your team is there for! You should be the one writing your content but let others do the work that can be delegated. There's no reason for you to edit your own work - especially because having someone else edit usually results in better writing.
  • Finally I'll write the final draft IN Squarespace. I copy/paste all my text into the editor and re-read while I format and add anything else that needs to be said.
  • Lastly, I'll add all the extra content (videos, photos, infographics) to the post before scheduling it to go out. Again, my images, social media and SEO will be pre-created at the beginning of the year - reference the Ultimate Content Guide for more detail on that process.

This method of writing a post may seem strange at first and it can be hard to break your current habits, but I promise you - this method is much faster than anything you're doing now. Because I'm crazy and I love productivity I actually timed myself writing posts for a full month to see which was quicker. I wrote 4 posts using a traditional method (write, edit, write, format, images, schedule, then do it again) and I wrote 4 posts using batch processing. It took me 2 hours and 14 minutes to do it one-by-one and only 67 minutes to do it with batch processing. All my posts were over 2000 words and completely ready for publish. That's an hour I saved just for a MONTH worth of posts. That's 12 hours for a year. Not to mention, I'm pretty fast at writing posts, if you take longer - you'll be saving yourself even more time.

Batch processing works. There's a reason we still use assembly lines in production - this method is the most efficient for your business. Now let's look at how you can automate other systems so that content creation becomes the ONLY thing you have to physically do yourself!

06. Take Control of Your Schedule

Say No

I'll keep this one simple. Don't be afraid to say no. Boss asking you to work on the weekend? Friends asking you to go to their extended family's Christmas party? It's okay to say no sometimes.

Realize that your life is full of stuff to do and you can't always do everything. Say no to the stuff you don't have to do or want to do.

Simplify Your Life

This can be as simple as doing all your chores in one day rather than breaking them up. Or having a garage sale and getting rid of all your crap to reduce clutter. Cut back on the things you don't enjoy. If you hate your yoga class, stop doing it. If you don't enjoy blogging, quit. If you despise your job, find a new one.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. So enjoy it. Don't let stress overwhelm you. God put you on this earth to love life and serve others - don't waste your days wishing you were somewhere else.

Nora Conrad