How to find a routine while working from home?
The concept of work from home (WFH) sounds very comfortable and balanced one among different types of upcoming working models. WFH comes with its own challenges too. The most difficult one is to create a routine. The distractions while working from home can vary from attending to several door bells, ad-hoc requests from family members, neighbors dropping by (just because you are home) and your own wandering mind. If you add a kid or two into this, (which often is the case) then it is very easy to toss any routine for WFH. Result is that work gets spilled over till late at nights. You slowly turn into an owl! Office space provides an ambience, physical separation from outside world and urgency to finish work by evening, this helps us concentrate, and home lacks them.
WFH needs little different treatment in terms of creating a routine and discipline.
1) Morning routine: Before starting your work day it helps to have a schedule for ‘me time’ – drinking a cup of tea or going for a walk, a thinking time to start the day, dress for the day too, remember when going to office the daily commutes does this preparation automatically for you.
2) Set your working hours: To get work done consistently it is necessary to start and stop working at same time every day, even at home. Use time tracking tools to capture this data. This self imposed time constrain automatically channelizes the brain towards concentration.
3) Organize work schedules similar to office routine: Periodic schedules and deadlines of projects to be completed are important. Complex projects can be overwhelming to deal with and require them to be chunked into smaller milestones. Revisiting the completeness of work in intervals helps in self motivation.
4) Plan the day: My day starts with an overview of the daily calendar and marked emails from the previous day. I sequence the planned activities (preparing a monthly report, trainings) for the day, and keep time for ad-hoc activities. I analyze types of planned activities, and align them according to my mental rhythm, e.g., communications (to be handled after lunch), research and analysis (mid morning). Planned activities are performed around the ad-hoc activities.
5) Take proper breaks: Lunch time is fixed for 1 hour for me and I don’t take office calls during this time unless it is absolutely urgent. If you are working in global environment there may be days with late night or early morning conference calls so spilling over your resting or family time. Take care of that and allow yourself some breaks during normal working hour on those days.
6) Network and socialize: WFH gets lonely and emotionally draining at times, leading to wandering minds. Calling your colleagues, going to the office once in a while, and reaching out to avenues to meet random people (through hobby classes, group or social activities) can keep you emotionally active.
7) Exercise: Plan a physical activity, especially in the evenings, you will be forced to close your machine and your muscles will get their due. This will double up to keep you mentally happy with the release of happy hormones!
8) Creating good ethos for WFH model: Your WFH status will always get more scrutinized due to your absence in the office floor or face to face meetings. A call missed or a delay in deadline will hamper your reputation in your freelancing and at office. Following a regular routine to complete the tasks in hand is the only way create good ethos while working from home.
9) Demand routine from family too: A WFH phenomenon is possible only when the family members are told about the seriousness of work and a proper support system is created at home. A woman if thinks to do all the domestic and parenting chores along with a full time WFH activity that surely will be a burden and finally bring failure to her.
WFH is going to be a popular model of work in urban IT dependent profiles. A routine approach to WFH is an excellent way to keep the career flowing for Indian working women during different phases of their lives.