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How to Make Your Work-From-Home Schedule in 8 Steps

Developing a work-from-home schedule has lots of benefits for your health, productivity, and work-life balance. These eight steps will help you get started.

Working from home comes with a tremendous number of perks. You can work from anywhere, be more flexible with your hours, and have more time to do things you enjoy doing outside of work. But the remote work lifestyle isn't all sunshine; it's also very challenging since it's up to you to create (and follow) a personal work-from-home schedule.
Just because you may not be locked into the 9-to-5 doesn't mean you don't need a structured work-from-home routine. Without one, you might find yourself procrastinating, sleeping late, and streaming shows when you should be taking care of important tasks.
Thankfully, remote work allows you to design a personalized work-from-home schedule that plays to your strengths. It should promote a work-life balance of productivity and health for both your work-life and personal life.
In this guide, we'll point out the benefits of having a proper schedule and walk you through eight simple steps to help you create a custom work-from-home routine for your lifestyle and workday.

Why You Need a Work-From-Home Schedule

Did you know that practicing good time management has proven benefits? A well-designed schedule has potential to:
  • Boost your productivity
  • Help you feel less stressed with more energy
  • Free up your time to do the things you love
  • Allow you to get more done each workday
  • Create positive connections with others
  • Improve your self-esteem
When we dream about remote work, we usually assume we'll automatically get these benefits. In reality, though, you'll get these benefits when you have a work-from-home routine that encourages healthy habits, productive days, and regular work hours.

8-Step Work-From-Home Routine

You'll see some work-from-home schedules online that stress the importance of waking up or starting work at a specific time. But there are as many ways to work from home as remote employees. Use these tips to create a schedule template that you can customize as needed.

1. Get a Day Planner

Whether you're a freelancer or a salaried manager who's telecommuting, you'll want a day planner. Using a planner will help you check in with your to-do list, plan for the next day, and follow your daily routine. It also helps keep your mind focused on your workflow without worrying about forgetting something important.
Some remote workers prefer to keep a pair of day planners, one for work time and one for personal life. Others prefer just one day planner.
It's up to you which you'd prefer. What matters is that you have space for scheduling each day. It also helps to have pages for to-do lists, long-term project planning, and self-care tasks. The Moleskin Classic Planner is a good option, but you can also find productivity apps (like Notion or Evernote) if it's easier for you to manage tasks from your phone or computer.

2. Outline Your Work Hours

If your employer doesn’t set your work hours, it's time to define them. Those who don't have set hours might still need to log on to collaborate with remote team members at certain times. Maybe you have a required window to log on to something like Slack or Zoom, and you might need to adjust for your time zone.
Assuming you're working full-time, you can either set up an eight-hour window to work or choose a split schedule. A split schedule might mean working six hours in the morning and then an extra two later in the evening to finish additional work tasks.
Whatever you choose, outline the work hours you want to stick to in your day planner.

3. Don't Forget Your Lunch Break

It's easier than you'd think to forget to take lunch in a home office. In an in-person office, it's hard to forget lunch when the building suddenly smells of delicious food. But unless your family members or roommates remind you, it's up to you to remember to take your lunch break.
Lunch gives you the energy to beat the afternoon slump, and it helps you get enough nutrients to keep your body healthy. If it's hard to stop your work to eat lunch, consider meal prepping at the beginning of the week.
Plus, taking a 30 minute lunch break helps, well, break up the monotony of your daily work routine. Decide what time of day you'll eat lunch and for how long, then block this period out in your day planner. It's best to set an alarm so you don't forget, avoid scheduling phone calls during lunch, and maybe sit on the couch or at the kitchen table to eat.

4. Take Breaks Throughout the Day

Add breaks throughout your day to combat stiffness and pain. Ideally, you want to get up and walk around a bit every 30 minutes. This helps prevent the health risks associated with prolonged periods of sitting, and it can help keep your mind active.
You don’t need long breaks, just enough to wake up your muscles. And if you hate interrupting work that often, try switching to a standing desk so you can work standing up after every 30 minutes of sitting.

5. Develop A Morning Routine

Now that you know how long you'll be working and when you'll take breaks, it's time for a good morning routine. It's often best to wake up early and start your day like you're going to the office. Or wake up as early as you need to for the hours you set. And if it's been a while since you went to an actual office, just pretend.
Here are some ideas:
  • Create or review your daily to-do list 
  • Do some self-care (e.g., yoga, exercise, stretch, meditation)
  • Drink a cup of coffee while you read the news
  • Eat a healthy breakfast to prepare your mind to start work
  • Get some fresh air with a walk or run around your neighborhood
  • Listen to your favorite playlist or podcast 
  • Put on professional clothes to help yourself feel ready for work
Do whatever will prepare you to sit down at your workspace and have a productive day. It can help to make a list of the things that help you feel ready to work. And if your day planner has space, make a checklist so you can check off your morning routine tasks as an easy win when you start your workday.

6. Develop an End of Day Routine

A good routine is also crucial at the end of the day. Your end-of-day routine should help you unwind and relax, which is good for your mental health after a long day of work. This will look different depending on your schedule, household, and lifestyle.
Here are some ideas:
  • Change into comfy PJs or lounge clothes
  • Do some self-care (e.g., yoga, exercise, stretch, meditation)
  • Get some fresh air with a walk or run around your neighborhood
  • Plan your to-do list tasks for the next day 
  • Prep and cook a nice meal
  • Talk to a loved one or video call a friend
  • Tidy up your workstation and home office area
  • Stream an episode of your favorite TV show
You might list a few habits to do as soon as you finish working and a few after finishing any personal life errands or chores. If your day planner has space, add a checklist for your end-of-day routine, too.

7. Schedule Personal Chore Time

Working from home is freeing, but it can also be disorienting. Don't let the change disrupt your ability to take care of your personal life. It's all about a work-life balance, so schedule personal chore time however you need to.
We'll be brief here because everyone's chores are pretty different. But most people will at least need to schedule time on the weekends, after work, or in between a split schedule for things like:
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cleaning and household maintenance
  • Doctor appointments
  • Caring for pets or children (or plant babies)
  • Self-care tasks like haircuts
You probably know what you need to get done, but writing it in your day planner can help you actually do it. And if you're not someone who struggles with getting personal things done (also known as a "superhero"), you're free to skip this step and move straight to the next one.

8. Stick to Your Schedule

All right, if you follow all of these steps, you'll have a complete work-from-home routine ready to follow. So, what now? If everyone followed their work-from-home schedule after making one, home office productivity wouldn't be so infamously tricky to achieve. The real trick is to actually stick to it.
To make sure you stick to your routine, we recommend using "bumpers" to keep you on track. And all that means is reminders and alarms. For example, it can help to display your schedule where you can easily see it, like the refrigerator, in addition to keeping it in your day planner.
One of the best ways to set up bumpers and make sure you follow your schedule is by setting alarms. Use a 15-minute reminder before your workday begins and ends, and maybe for your lunch break, too. Then set reminders for your routine breaks during the workday. Otherwise, it's way too easy to work through those.
Also, consider creating "do not disturb" hours on your phone for times when a call or text would distract you from what you're supposed to be doing. Of course, it's best to create emergency parameters to make sure important calls can get through.

You've Got This!

These eight steps will help you create a custom work-from-home schedule that can grow with you. Revisit these steps whenever life throws you a curveball, and before you realize it, you'll know them by heart. Then you'll be a master of the work-from-home schedule!
And once you have your routine down, you might personalize your workspace with accessories or give your home office a calming makeover. What matters is that you enjoy your workspace and your work-from-home schedule.
Finally, if you haven't already, learn about ergonomics and consider updating your office to protect your health. And if you already know you'll want to redo your office, head to our Design My Office page for personalized recommendations for ergonomic office furniture.

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