Weekly Working From Home Structure: Free Schedule Template
For many of us, working from home is an entirely new concept that we have recently found ourselves forced to adapt to. Even if you have experience of remote working, you won’t have done so in such unprecedented circumstances as those we are currently in. It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed as many of us struggle to find a new routine that helps to make working from home as successful as possible.
Structure is incredibly important in our daily routines. It is likely that we are all experiencing a sudden loss of freedom and control in our lives right now. However, making a schedule is one small but important way that we can reclaim a feeling of control over what does happen to us. It should also help to improve your productivity by encouraging you to manage your time well.
To help with this, we have created a work from home schedule template that you can download and use to plan out your work day.
9 Tips on Creating a Work from Home Schedule
Creating an effective work from home schedule is not as simple as just plotting when you intend to work on specific tasks. It is unlikely to be a success unless you put more thought into it and consider how you will be able to work best. The tips we suggest you incorporate into your schedule are intended to help with your productivity and time management, as well as to prevent you from getting overwhelmed as you adjust to having to work from home. Although the way in which each person works best may vary, there are a few things that we can all do when creating a work from home schedule to maximise its benefits.
1. Consider what you need to accomplish each day.
Before you start filling out your schedule, think about whether there are any work tasks that need to be completed within a set timeframe. This will help you to prioritise tasks and sort them on your schedule. You should think about what you ideally want, or need, to have completed by the end of each day. We also recommend that you start with the tasks that you least want to do but needs to be done. This way, you can’t put it off all day, having it loom over you as you dread having to complete it.
One way of determining what tasks to do and when is to use a time management matrix to sort your tasks into four categories: urgent and important; urgent, but not important; not urgent, but important and; neither urgent nor important. Sorting your tasks this way will help you to prioritise and evaluate what you need to complete first. If you want to find out more about using a time management matrix, and download a free template, you can access our dedicated article here.
2. Be realistic in the targets you set.
There is no point in scheduling yourself daily tasks to complete in a timeframe that is not achievable in the first place. Doing so is more likely to disrupt your schedule rather than help you to keep to it. Before planning the time you’ll be allotting a task, consider how long it will realistically take. If, while working on a project, you realise that reaching the completion deadline is highly unlikely, you should adjust the target accordingly, assuming there is some room for flexibility.
3. Recognise how you work best.
How you successfully plan your time will depend on how you work best. For example, some people may find it useful to split a large task into smaller chunks so that it seems more manageable. Whereas for others, doing this may make the task more complicated, and so they may work best if they consider it as a whole.
In addition, you might decide that dedicating a whole day or two to one large task, is how you will best get it done. However, for others, spending two full working days on the same one task may not be productive at all. If this is the case, you could instead take the smaller parts of the task and divide them up across your week. Knowing how you do work best may be a trial and error process, so don’t be disheartened if what you try first ends up being unsuccessful.
4. Accept that you will need to be flexible at times.
Things that require your immediate attention are bound to come up unexpectedly, forcing you to prioritise working on something else and drop what you had planned to work on. You should prepare yourself for this potentially happening by giving yourself plenty of time for a project and keeping some time in your schedule free for things that do come up without warning. Again, don’t be afraid to change your schedule during the week if you need to.
5. Set aside time at the end of each day to reflect on what you’ve achieved.
By just taking 5 to 10 minutes at the end of each working day to think about what you were able to complete it will help you to be more organised. Doing so will help you to see how much you were able to do that day and predict how much more time you will need to dedicate to specific tasks. This will help you to prioritise your goals and allow you to plan for the next day.
6. Build regular breaks into your schedule.
This is incredibly important to do as it helps you to remain productive and get a short break away from your screen and/or work. You should schedule breaks into your timetable in a way that works for you. Some people may find it useful to get up and walk around their house or garden for 5 minutes every hour or so.
Instead, you may find taking less, slightly longer breaks more beneficial for you, such as to walk outside for 10 minutes. It is recommended that the breaks you take aren’t spent looking at a screen if your job requires you to also use screens. For example, you could use the time to have a short conversation with someone in your house. Whatever you decide to do during your breaks, it is important that you have them, get away from your desk and return feeling refreshed.
7. Start and finish work at your usual time.
Starting and finishing at the same time as you would if you were in your usual workplace helps to maintain your usual sense of routine. You may find that you need to adjust your hours due to other factors, but try to follow the same working hours week by week. This will help you to keep a sense of normality as you work from home.
When working from home it can be easy to work longer than your usual hours. This may be because of a perceived need to prove to your managers that you are working just as hard, or simply because you get caught up working on a task and lose track of time. To encourage you to stick to your hours you could even set an alarm to sound when your working day has finished. At the very least, this should encourage you to begin finishing your work for the day.
8. Get some exercise.
Physical exercise has numerous benefits including stress reduction, increased productivity and higher satisfaction in general. You may not be able to get much exercise during your work hours, unless you do so during your lunch break. Instead, schedule at least thirty minutes of exercise a day into your working from home timetable. This could be either before or after work but, again, this will depend on your personal preference. Whatever form of exercise you choose to do, and it can vary, you should designate a time to ensure that you stick to a routine.
9. Set up your workstation suitable for your needs.
To help you work as comfortably as possible, you must set up your workstation accordingly. If possible, we recommend that you avoid working in your bedroom as it is best to keep this separate from the environment you will come to associate with work. You certainly don’t want to be thinking about work when trying to relax, or to relax too much when trying to do work.
You should also choose to set up your workstation somewhere with good natural lighting and a comfortable temperature. Once you have found a dedicated place to work, you must create an ergonomic workstation. This will minimise the risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE), such as eye strain or musculoskeletal disorders.
You can use our free DSE checklist to help you set up your workstation to be as comfortable as possible here. In setting up a workstation that meets your needs, you are likely to work more productively.
Weekly Working from Home Schedule Template
Below you can access a working from home schedule template that you can use to plan out your weeks. In doing so, the schedule should help you to manage your time and tasks better. If you don’t feel as though it is working for you, try adjusting how you split your time and consider what might be preventing you from feeling more productive.
You can either download the template and fill it out online, or print it off and complete it by hand. Remember that you may need to make changes to your schedule and so understand you might have to be flexible, particularly to begin with.
To help you best make use of the template, we have also included an example working from home schedule on the first page of the document. Where applicable, the tips we suggest to follow listed above are included in both schedules.
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