My work environment has recently changed in a HUGE way. After 12 years as a classroom teacher, I am now working from home and traveling all over the state working with teachers. It’s that first location–my home–that has really inspired me to create a set of personal expectations. I’ve found, in just a few weeks, that sticking to these rules makes my time much more productive.
As a disclaimer, these rules are my own and they work for me. Others may find these too restrictive or no structured enough. If that’s you, tell me in the comments.
- Stick to a schedule. I decided early on to get up each morning at the same time and end my work at the same time each day. I find that this keeps at bay the temptation to sleep in and waste a perfect morning.
- Exercise. I have never been a guy who gets regular exercise. Now, however, I can’t use any of the reasons that I once did because I make my own schedule. So, I make a point of getting out of bed at the same time I used to when I was going to school. I spend the first hour with some physical activity (walking, jogging, a seven-minute workout, etc.) and then I take a shower and start my day.
- Eat lunch. During my most recent year of teaching, I often skipped lunch because I just didn’t have time. Now, my biggest problem is that I snack a lot. To combat this, I started a habit of taking a break at lunchtime, going downstairs to the kitchen, and making myself some lunch. It gives me a nice Facebook/Twitter/feed-reading break, too.
- Work the Pomodoro. I recently heard about the Pomodoro Technique from a friend, and I’ve started using it to keep me productive. In essence, I work on a task for 20 minutes, and then I take a mandated 5 minute break. I decide how many “pomodoros” each task will take and I try to complete it in less. It actually works.
- Kiss the wife. Okay, not everyone gets this perk. My wife runs a daycare out of our home during the day, so I generally avoid leaving my “work cave” when I have a lot to do. But when I complete a big task, or finish a phone call/video conference, I usually take a walk downstairs and steal a smooch from the Mrs. It keeps me grounded. And, I don’t think that she minds, either.
I’m sure that list will grow as I learn more of the pitfalls of working from home, but my level of productivity and sanity are stabilizing in a good place, thanks to the structure that these rules bring to my workplace.
What’s your system?