When you’re working at home, it’s easy to find the day just flies past in a blur. Perhaps time is taken with domestic distractions, or you find it hard to settle. Or maybe your working pace just slows down. Everything can take much longer than expected. (Particularly common when working for yourself, not accountable to a Manager.)

If you regularly reach the end of the day with major tasks outstanding, adding more routine and structure to your day will help. These tips will help develop a routine that works for you.

• Decide on your working hours
One of the challenges of working at home is that your working day can stretch at either end. It’s hard to ‘switch off’ properly when you can easily check e-mail into the evening and weekends.

But over time, it’s exhausting (and unfair on your family if they live with you).

‘Working Smarter, not harder’ is an overused expression. But it’s better to work for a focused 7 hours a day than an exhausting 10 hours that delivers less. So decide your core working hours, and plan work within them.

If you’re employed, these hours will probably reflect normal working time to fit in with your Colleagues. But if it’s your own business, you have more flexibility. Choose to work when you’re at your most energised, to fit in with your family or perhaps when it’s best for communicating with your customers and suppliers. As long as the work gets done, it’s up to you when.

• Divide Your Day Into Blocks Of Time
Many people are surprised how much they miss the routine of organisation life when working at home, and drift through the day without urgency. (I’ve heard many horror stories from home based workers of how easily an hour disappears on social media!)

Scheduling in specific tasks to be tackled, and when, helps retain clear focus. I recommend you do this at the end of the day before, to get the day off to a ‘flying start’.
If you find it helpful, use a kitchen timer set to ‘ping’ every time you reach the end of the time allocated. This reminds you to refocus, switch activities and maybe have a break, before moving on to your next task. I find the self-imposed deadline of this schedule keeps me focused and keeps up the pace.

Using the timer keeps me moving as I become surprisingly competitive with myself as I want to ‘beat the clock’. It’s helped me become much more realistic and accurate when estimating how long a task needs.

• Plan In Your Breaks
Give your day routine and structure by allocating time for regular stretch, refreshment and lunch breaks. Put these into your daily time plan. This will help keep your levels of focus and interest high.

Use your breaks for handling some of the distractions that surround you at home if you like, such as putting on a load of washing, quick burst of washing up, a walk round the garden for some fresh air or a coffee break with your partner. Just keep the break to the time allocated!

• Set Groundrules For Availability
When working from home, family and friends can struggle to understand. If interruptions from friends ringing to chat or popping in for coffee becomes a problem, explain working from home isn’t a soft option. The key word is ‘working’ after all. Maybe you can meet for lunch or catch up later in the day?

Even partners and children can be confused, imagining you’re now available for the school run, adhoc babysitting and other domestic matters. The freedom to do all these things is the bonus of working from home but setting boundaries about when and how often might be needed.

If clients and colleagues are calling you at home, you may want to set boundaries with them too about availability. A separate phone number (or ring tone) could help so you can filter calls or switch to voicemail when it suits you.
Working from home can take getting used to, and these tips will help you to keep your focus and motivation so you enjoy the rewards.

Author's Bio: 

© Copyright Mosaic Learning Ltd. 2009 – 2013 All rights reserved
About Rosie Gray;
Rosie Gray specialises in helping her Clients master Time & Pressure, to increase Personal Productivity. As a result, they feel less overwhelmed, back in control & achieve much more of what really matters. So if you never seem to reach the end of your ‘to do’ list, return every phone call & even sacrifice personal time to catch up, download your free copy of her e-book ‘Seize Back Your Time!’ http://www.Mosaic-Learning.co.uk/sbyt.html