Over the past several years of remotely running a digital marketing agency, I’ve learned a thing or two about working from home. One top lesson for success: my effectiveness is directly tied to my ability to structure my time.
While I love the flexibility and freedom that remote work affords to me, I know that I have to prioritize my time and take my work seriously. This means that having a schedule is non-negotiable if I want to really accomplish something worthwhile.
Why Should I Schedule My Working Hours?
As a remote worker, if you don’t treat your work like a real job, how can you expect anyone else to take it seriously? That goes for your clients, customers, family, and friends. I know, it’s tempting to use your newfound flexibility to give yourself extremely flexible working hours… I fell into that trap at the beginning of my journey. However, I discovered (the hard way) that you end up doing far less work, making far less money, and on the verge of having to go back to the dreaded 9-5 grind.
Also, the people in your life need you to demonstrate the boundaries you have around your work schedule. If you protect your time to work and treat it as important, they will see it as important. If you disregard a daily structure, don’t expect anyone else to honor it, either.
Products and results don’t guarantee customer satisfaction. You also want clients and customers to feel confident in your organization. They entrust their needs to your care. By keeping a schedule, you establish reliability and availability. Your professionality depends on this – especially if you want to gain referrals.
I know, setting up a schedule can feel overwhelming. What if you can’t stick to it? What if the hours you set don’t work in the long run? How about if you get interrupted by the unexpected?
That’s the beauty of remote entrepreneurship – you can adjust. You have control over your schedule, and you can adjust it as needed. If you fall out of the habit, you can start again. However, you have to start with something solid, and let the adjustments be the exception instead of the rule.
Do you feel like you can’t get into the rhythm of a daily schedule? Let me give you some great tips based on my experience.
3 Tips for Setting Up a Daily Work Schedule
Use these three tips as a starting point to set up your own daily schedule:
1. Have a Morning Routine
My morning routine changed my life. Having established, regular morning habits eliminates the frustration of fighting through the grogginess and wondering what to do first. It gives you time to wake up and collect yourself before you start your workday.
The first step to an effective morning routine: Get up at a regular time every day. In order to do this, you actually have to set yourself for success the night before. Go to bed at a regular time and make sure you get enough sleep.
Part of my routine includes brushing my teeth, putting on clothes that make me feel comfortable and professional, and eating breakfast. You don’t have to have the same routine as anyone else – do what works best for you. But choose your routine and do it consistently. I promise it’ll be worth your efforts.
2. Set Work Hours – and Stick to Them
Figure out what hours of the day you want to spend working. The great thing about being a remote entrepreneur is that you don’t have to select the same hours of a regular work day. Maybe you work best in early mornings or later at night. Perhaps you need to break up your work day into chunks. You have the freedom to schedule work hours at the times that work best for you.
Have a dedicated work space to minimize distractions, and set it up with the tools that you need. Face away from distracting messes. Create a pleasant environment. Don’t forget to take breaks!
Then, at the end of your work day, cut it off. Physically leave your workspace behind. Give your brain time to rest and relax away from the demands of growing a business. Then, you’ll be refreshed to start again the following day.
3. Dedicate Hours and Days to Specific Tasks
Set aside certain hours to check email, run errands, or accomplish tasks. This will help your focus and productivity. It also eliminates questions about how to spend your time and minimizes distractions. You can prioritize your responsibilities based on their importance and needed frequency.
Some people work this out by having dedicated planning or writing days, specific hours for scheduling meetings, or set times for answering emails throughout the day. By doing this, they minimize the risk of getting derailed from tasks that require longer and deeper focus, and they don’t have to second guess whether they have time to set up a meeting.
Schedules remove the guesswork from your work day. An organized entrepreneur doesn’t have to wonder how he or she will spend their time. Instead, they’ve already decided. After all, time is a limited and valuable resource to us as entrepreneurs, so we want to make the best use of it that we can.
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