7 Easy Steps to Create Your Perfect Workday

Jun 15, 2020
 

Imagine waking up in the morning as late as you can, going around in your pyjamas all day as you dabble with work, home chores, social media and netflix. Does this sound like a dream to you? It sounds like a nightmare to me! From my perspective a total lack of structure means that tasks don't get accomplished since there is a lack of focus, difficulty in differentiating between work and home and an unclear set of objectives.

 

Listen, running your entrepreneurial businesses from home has loads of benefits including the time freedom to work when you want, on what you want and for how long you want. It also enables you to prioritise the non-business parts of your life like family and self-care to give you more overall balance.

 

However, as millions of people forced into the work from home brigade by Covid have found, working from home can also be quite challenging with:

  • Distractions from other people, pets and social media
  • An "always on" mindset, causing you to work too long and too hard

 

So what is the best way to structure your day when you work at home so that you feel like you really get good work done that doesn’t take all day and all night?  Glad you asked!

 

Here's a hint, it's not the method I described in the first paragraph of this article! In order to help you get the most out of your workday, I have put together these 7 simple steps to help you create the structure that works best for you. While the perfect day differs from person to person, it should include:

  1. A home “commute” to mark the beginning and end of the workday
  2. Establishing a daily routine to maximise your focused and creative periods
  3. A differentiation between home and workspace
  4. A clear understanding of what tasks you want to accomplish every day
  5. A plan to deal with distractions before they happen
  6. Regular breaks including a proper lunch
  7. The ability to stop working at the end of the day

 

Ready to dive in and start getting super productive?

 

Step 1  - Your Home “Commute”

 

When you work from home it is easy to struggle with a lack of “commute” to differentiate the switch on to work time in the morning and the switch off from work time at the end of the day. That’s why it’s so important to start your day with a morning routine that can firstly, signal to your brain that it’s work time and not play time, and secondly, give you space to gather your thoughts before you plunge into the day’s tasks. Here are some ways to accomplish one or both of those objectives: 

 

  • Get dressed. I’m not kidding. To get out of the “sleepy time” mindset and into work mode, it’s helpful to change, even if that just means swapping your pjs for yoga pants. You might find it helps to have particular clothes for working at home. Dressing for work can set the right mental tone for the day (and avoid the awkwardness of being dialled into a virtual meeting while you're still in your pyjamas!)
  • Give yourself a physical commute. Consider taking a short walk before starting your working day. Even a 10-minute walk around the block could energise you and help to create a break between home time and work time.
  • Exercise. Mornings are a great time to get your juices flowing and exercising is how I like to start my day at least 4 days a week.

 

Step 2 - Establish a Daily Routine

 

Once you’ve established your morning routine, it’s important to set work hours that reflect and maximise your focused and creative periods of the day. Firstly, you need to ask yourself if you are more productive in the morning, afternoon, or the evening? The answer to this question will help you establish when to begin work, when to end it and when you are most likely to succeed at certain tasks. If you’re not sure about your peak times, then start keeping a log of how much time you spend on each task. It should help you see when you're at your most productive, so that you can carry out complex tasks during those parts of the day.

 

For example, because I am most focused in the mornings, I structure my day like this:

  • 7am – Wake up
  • 8am -10am Exercise and shower. Some days this finishes at 9, other at 10
  • 9:30am/10:30am Start on content creation and main tasks
  • 12:45pm-2:30pm Make and eat lunch, currently with whole family!
  • 2:30pm – 7pm start with a short admin period and then editing, networking, client calls and interviews. I have a 1 hour walk outside break around 4pm-5pm
  • 7pm onwards I keep clear for family and friends

 

Step 3 - Create a Workspace That Works

 

In order to get the most out of your home working environment, you need to keep three things in mind:

  1. Where in your house you work
  2. The ability to differentiate work from home space
  3. Basic equipment

 

If you want to have a structured day, you first need the right place to work. Set aside a spot in your home as your work area, choosing a place that will help you focus and avoid distractions. It might be a spare room or even your kitchen table, but the important thing is to work from a desk rather than from bed or your couch.

 

Why is this important?

 

Having a dedicated space means you can shut the door at the end of the day or clear away your things from the kitchen table. Doing this helps create boundaries and a physical sense that your work is separate from your home life. Another way to do this, is to avoid going into certain areas of the home, or sitting in certain chairs during working hours, so that you know when you're in "work mode," and when you're not.

 

Another important consideration is to make your work area a place where you'll enjoy spending time. Check that you can sit comfortably, because otherwise, you'll probably find plenty of excuses to get up and go somewhere else! A high-quality office chair is one of the best investments you can make.

 

The other important piece of equipment is a door that you can close! It's almost impossible to work effectively at home if there are other people nearby. So, if you have the available space, be assertive and shut out potential distractions.  At the very least, arrange your work area so that distractions aren’t in your line of view – including any partner who’s also working from home.

 

For a deeper dive into how to get the most from your work space and set up the perfect work environment for you, check out my vlog 5 Steps to Fast Track Your Productivity.

 

Step 4 - Manage Your Time

 

Time management is a huge topic in and of itself. To keep it simple and to make a start, I wanted to highlight two main points: set yourself daily tasks and be realistic about how long they will take to complete.

 

It’s always best to start on the macro level and work your way down when figuring out what to do each day. Start with your monthly goals and see what tasks you need to do today to move them forward. For a guide on how to plan your month, check out my Monthly Planning 101. On a daily basis, make a short list of the 3-4 tasks you have prioritised with the expected time you will spend on each one of them and put it somewhere you can see. Tick off the tasks as you do them.

 

It is really important not to give yourself too much to do in one day, because you risk the depressing reality of not getting more than half your list done. Then, instead of celebrating the achievement of completing a few tasks well that will really move your business forward, you focus on a long list of incomplete tasks. That method can leave you deflated and feeling like a failure. Which approach sounds more productive to you?

 

At the end of the day, evaluate your progress, celebrate your wins and make your list for the following day. Not only will this help you stay on track and on target, but it will also get the next day off to a flying start because you will know exactly what you need to do next! How good would it feel to know exactly what needs to be done instead of randomly picking things off a long list?

 

Step 5 - Deal with Distractions

 

In addition to time management, fighting off distractions tends to be the biggest hurdle to achieving true productivity. Our lives are plagued by distractions from TV shows begging to be watched, washing that needs to be done, dogs begging to be walked to the irresistible lure of social media, emails and news feeds.  You may be so used to the beeps and dings from your phone and flashing messages on your computer screen that you don’t know how distracting they are. It can take 15 minutes or more to recover from even a small distraction.

 

So what’s the solution?  When you realize that most of your distractions are self-imposed, it’s easier to eliminate them. Here are a few suggestions:

  • When it comes to emails, messages, and calls, try to keep yourself well-balanced and do not allow yourself to look at every notification that pops up on your smartphone
  • Think carefully about which notifications to keep on, and which to mute until later
  • Allocate time slots for checking your phone or try using the various apps that allow you to block specific sites and applications on your phone for a certain period of time
  • Another strategy is to turn off notifications completely
  • If these methods aren’t enough and you can’t resist the pull of your devices, turn them off when you are doing other work or leave them in another room entirely

 

Lastly, try to focus exclusively on what you are doing. When you are writing, write. When you are doing the dishes, do the dishes. You don’t need TV, Instagram, Email, and 11 other things going on at the same time. Immerse yourself in the task at hand.

 

Step 6 - Remember to Take Breaks!

 

Some people who work from home get so engrossed in a project that they forget to take a break for lunch, or even to stretch their legs. However, it’s important to step away from the computer now and then to recharge, refuel, and refocus.

 

Most people associate taking breaks with laziness and feelings of guilt. In fact, guilt is often what motivates us to work straight through tiredness and fatigue and when we’re busier, we feel more productive and less guilty. But at the end of the day, productivity isn’t about how much we do, it’s about how much we accomplish. The facts are that breaks help you work smarter and accomplish more.

 

When you frequently step back from your work, you may feel less productive because you’re not working during that time. But breaks allow you to accomplish more by letting you replenish your energy reserves, recharge your focus, step back from your work to make creative connections, and re-evaluate your goals or how you approach your work in the first place.

 

Listen, your brain needs a time-out from work. Taking a break, even a 15 minute one, could help you stay recharged for the rest of the day. In fact, by committing a mere 15 minutes of your lunch break to relaxation exercises, you can build the mental strength you need to power through the afternoon with relative ease.  Here’s the best part, you'll finish work feeling less stressed and more energised so you can enjoy your evenings. To find out more about the different kinds of breaks you can take, check out Breaks are the New Busy.

 

Step 7 - Stop Working

 

Just because you work and live in the same place doesn’t mean your work needs to be your life, nor that the two need to intermingle in an unhealthy way. I know how easy it is for the end of the workday to sort of melt into evening and then bedtime before you know it. If you truly work best in the evenings, it’s fine to structure your day that way, but do it on purpose, not as a default thing that happens because you forgot to have boundaries. 

 

Try to make your evenings the time when you spend with your family and friends, watch a movie or have a long relaxing bath. It is extremely important to remember that even if you are working from home, your work is not your life, you need to relax and enjoy your free time.  If you have difficulties drawing that line, you can use some of the strategies from Step 1 - Your Home “Commute” to mark off the end of the work day:

  • Meditate
  • Change your clothes
  • Exercise
  • Take a walk

 

Bonus Tip

Remember to reward yourself for getting things done! For example, allow yourself your favourite specialty coffee or tea for completing a task successfully, go on your favourite walk listening to a really good podcast, run yourself the perfect bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil (my favourite) or get really fancy and book a massage! You worked hard and you deserve it!

 

What are your top tips for working from home? Let me know in the comments or in my Facebook Group, Female Entrepreneurs Craving Time and Financial Freedom.

 

Committed to your success,

 

Marina x

 

Want to know more about getting your POWER back? 

I want you to know that Transformation is possible. Progress is possible. I’ve implemented these steps in my own life and coached my clients through the process

 

Maybe now really is your time to make a change? Maybe this is that moment for you. If so, then I would like to invite you to book a FREE Kickstart Your Power Session, where we get on a call for 60 minutes and identify what obstacles are stopping you from reaching your goals and work out a plan for overcoming them.

 

Are ready to get your Power back?

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