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Routine for working from home?

(32 Posts)
thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:01:35

Those of you who work from home - do you have a routine you follow that you can share with me? I need to get A LOT more work done in the day, and also need to get a bit of housework done, and would like to take a little bit of time for myself too (to go on MN, run errands etc.) but it seems like I don't have the balance right at all - I either work flat out for 10 hours & exhaust myself or I spend all day messing about on MN, or I turn into uber-housewife and start baking bread! And recently there are more days that are a 'wash out' than not, my self-discipline is slipping and I don't have a routine. My work is entirely driven by me - my deadlines are quite fluid and mostly driven by me as my business is only just starting. I just want to stay on top of work, stay on top of the housework to a reasonable degree, and feel that the time I've put DS in childcare has been well-spent. If I haven't done enough work during the day I get so cross with myself, because DS is in childcare during this time, so I really want to make it count for something. Do any of you feel that you have achieved a balance in your day, and if so do you use a kind of timetable and if so what is it? Please help if you have any advice or experience!

flowerybeanbag Wed 25-Jun-08 13:05:36

Nanny comes at 8.30, I spend 45mins-1 hr doing housework/various jobs round the house. Then work for a bit. If I have to go out I do that mid-morning usually for a break, then back to work until 2.30 when nanny goes home.

After that I answer the phone if I can but no more work until DS in bed about 7.30, and then only if I need to, which I usually do at the moment.

Teuch Wed 25-Jun-08 13:06:54

I don't have a routine as such, since my 'childcare' is DH and is flexible. Usually, at the start of the week, we look at the weather (DH mostly outdoor work) and decide on a full day or two afternoons that I will work.

DS naps in the mornings. Once we are up and dressed, he helps me with some chores (washing/cooking/tidying/etc) then when he goes for a nap, I either catch-up on that stuff or take some time for myself/MN!

I tendto check work emails, etc, throughout the day, but I signed up for BT Call Sign so that we would know the difference between private and work calls, and let the answerphone pick-up when I'm busy with DS.

JoshandJamie Wed 25-Jun-08 13:07:20

Write lists.
One for household stuff that needs doing
One for work stuff that needs doing.
One for personal stuff that needs doing.

Try to knock off the work stuff first - do a solid morning's work. Then take a break and do a few of the household things. i tend to put on a load of laundy/unpack dishwasher etc while making and eating my lunch.

Then I return to work stuff. If I set a deadline for myself, I can manage to carve out the odd hour for personal stuff.

I find I get the least done when I don't have pressing deadlines. So try to create some artificial ones.

Fennel Wed 25-Jun-08 13:11:12

I try and ignore all housework while working (and then maybe do a bit in a coffee or lunch break, the amount of time I might spend having a social coffee in the workplace).

I think a lot of it is habit, I think it takes a while to get used to working from home and getting into the rhythm of it. Some days I take the dds to school, come back, put on some strong coffee, put on the computer. and gradually get into work. but I don't look at the piles of dirty dishes or whatever in the kitchen.

wasting time while at the computer is harder for me to avoid, but at least I'm good at ignoring the housework and staying at the computer!

I work from an office too a couple of times a day, and if I am getting nothing done at home I go into work to gear myself up a bit, that works, but isn't possible of course if you are totally home-based.

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:11:19

That's so true JoshandJamie - on days where I 'have' to get something to someone it's amazing what a burst of speed I can put on. I guess I need to set aside some time to create deadlines for everything - I have a variety of different work projects. Do you have your lists in a notebook, or diary? Separate home & work diary, or everything together?

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:12:21

These replies are so useful - thank you everyone who has replied so far! I've been getting really fed up with myself for my non-achievement lately...

Flum Wed 25-Jun-08 13:15:18

I only work from home 1 morning a week and used to always get caught up on home stuff. Now I take kids to nursery as early as I can. Get home at 8.15 - 8.30am. Do home stuff until 9am. Do work until 12noon. Then home stuff noon to 12.45 when I pick them up.

I have to bill by the hours so like to be sure i have done the hours I have billed.

Flum Wed 25-Jun-08 13:15:25

I only work from home 1 morning a week and used to always get caught up on home stuff. Now I take kids to nursery as early as I can. Get home at 8.15 - 8.30am. Do home stuff until 9am. Do work until 12noon. Then home stuff noon to 12.45 when I pick them up.

I have to bill by the hours so like to be sure i have done the hours I have billed.

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:25:35

When you were starting out, did you find it harder? I've only just started, was used to working in a very hectic crowded office surrounded by people shouting. I kept thinking 'I could get so much done if I was at home...'. Now I'm in a nice quiet flat, and I keep getting distracted!

Fennel Wed 25-Jun-08 13:36:20

If I have something specific to do, or with a deadline, I find it more productive working from home than in an office.

If (as lately) I have a vague task with unspecified long deadline, I find it harder at home. Your work sounds like the latter.

kingfix Wed 25-Jun-08 13:43:30

Same here with deadlines, but ones I make up myself are not as effective as 'real' ones.
I kid myself I'll catch up in the evening, which I never do, so sometimes it helps to arrange something non-work to do in the evening so I know I've only got until picking up time.
About getting easier as you go along...unfortunately in my case I think it has got harder. When I first started a trial one day a week at home I was so desperate to prove to my boss I wasn't slacking I got loads done. Now I dont have a boss cracking the whip it's harder.

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:46:48

Yep, I think you've hit the nail on the head Fennel. I clearly need to go away and break down my vague very large projects down into specific tasks and create some shorter deadlines for each task. Now I say that it sounds really obvious blush And I think I do need to create some sort of home/work/me routine that works... I have 3 full days per week, which should be plenty to get my work done, but I am pithering as if I was retired here...

Barnical Wed 25-Jun-08 13:46:50

I do school run in the mornig.. followed by coofee and a quick hoover around and put toys/ books back to dc's bedrooms, I might throw some bathroom cleaner about ( in the bathroom ).. ( i mean quick).

turn on comp.. check e-mails.. the head for the studio (shed) till about 12.30ish.. when I pop in to grab luch, coffee, MN..and sort out whats for dinner.
Then sort out paper work.. diary and phone calls till school pick up..
dc's homework, snack, clubs etc.. then dinner.. sort younger dc's out bed time wise, then have from about 8PM to whenever I finish back working.
I charge per painting.. so the quicker I can get them done the more money I earn. I aslo pop on MN quite a bit.. but this is only tpo rest my mind

kingfix Wed 25-Jun-08 13:49:15

For me, convincing myself that office hours are still office hours, ie no housework or popping out at all, has been the best strategy, but doing that takes away some of the advantages of working at home anyway!

hatwoman Wed 25-Jun-08 13:51:55

oh becster - I could have written your post! I too am new to being self-employed/working from home and I feel like a sack of unproductive spuds at the moment. did you see that Mitchell and Webb sketch about working from home? It was very male (all about slipping off for a quick, ahem, tommy) but very funny. My problem is that I am working on one project but it has slightly gone on the back-burner, for various reasons. it could be put back on the front burner at any time. so I feel I can;t start doing other stuff - looking for more projects etc, but neither do I feel I can turn the computer off and go shopping/to the gym/on a cleaning frenzy. so here I am {hmm} it's AWFUL!!!

when I was studying one trick that I did find useful was to set the timer on the cooker for 45 minute stints. then make a cup of tea/10 mins on mn timed and then back to it.

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 25-Jun-08 13:54:50

One of the great joys about working at home is the freedom to be flexible about what you do and when.

I would set yourself some 'rules' - i.e. I am not going to work later than 6, or not at the weekend, or not before 9,30 - whatever makes sense to you - and then make sure that you stick to that.

I try and break up my day a little, otherwise it's too boring/intense. Plus, I have shoulder/neck problems and I have been told by my osteopath not to sit in the same position/at the PC for longer than 20 minutes. I try and follow that, but it's not always practical. But just getting up to go to the loo/get a drink can be helpful

I am an inveterate list maker. Post-its make little A5 'things to do' pads and these are fab. I have one for each project I'm working on, one for me labelled 'personal' and one labelled 'home' for all the domestic stuff. They are all stuck on the wall next to me, and there are little boxes to tick off all the things you have done.

A really good time management technique is to look at all the things on all your lists (assuming you've got that far!) and prioritise them, then write yourself a list for that day in order of priority. If you can or need to, put times against each one and work out how long it's going to take you to do it. Printing out a daily page from Outlook can be helpful here as you can schedule things in that way.

But if you do this, make sure that you also plan in breaks, rests, time to MN, time to cook, time to go for a walk - whatever - otherwise these lists will become your slavedriver rather than your helper.

(I'd love to have a job coming and helping people get organised actually - I'm so anal!)

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 25-Jun-08 13:55:56

Oh, one other thing - if it's a particular time of year, e.g. Wimbledon, and that's your thing, then also try and plan that into your day as well, so that you really feel the benefit of being freelance/working from home!

Fennel Wed 25-Jun-08 13:57:33

Another really good tip which I am not able to do is to NOT LOG ON to mumsnet during working hours.

Ahem. Yes.

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 13:58:57

hatwoman - you sound like you know exactly where I'm coming from! Today would have been far more productive if I'd just said 'I'll take two hours off and go to the gym and then do 3 hours of (specific measurable achievable timed) work." Instead I wrote a schedule for the day which just had hours with 'Do some work' marked in (duh! when did I turn into a time-management dunce!) and during those times I just didn't get into it properly. Am so angry with myself! And now I've got a meeting with DS's keyworker in half an hour so I'm thinking 'no point starting now...' Oh, becster you SHIRKER!!

kingfix Wed 25-Jun-08 14:05:50

hatwoman, I like your kitchen timer idea, I'm going to try it! It could stand in for cofee break at work: on days in the office I just grit my teeth and keep going until 11 when everyone goes for coffee.

thebecster Wed 25-Jun-08 14:44:10

Thanks to you guys I just used the spare half hour creating a day planner for my work days... I'll use it tomorrow and let you know if it helps! Will definitely try the kitchen timer for my breaks too...

hatwoman Wed 25-Jun-08 16:04:53

somehow setting the cooker timer works better than just saying, right I'll work from now til 11, or even setting a timer going on your computer or on your desk - I think it's because it's downstairs out of reach, so you know it's ticking and that you can;t alter it without getting up, and you know you'll be forced to get up when it goes to turn it off

TantieTowie Wed 25-Jun-08 16:37:10

I nearly wrote your message yesterday - but then thought I'd better do some work instead wink. I find the hardest thing is making myself start the work in the first place - but once I start I do get into it. Like you I have no very imminent deadlines at the moment, though if I did get organised I could get ahead, and come up with some new ideas.

Taking a break for lunch v important, I think - that could be MN time or a chance to sit in the garden that you don't get when working from an office.

The most organised people I've met have rules about only checking their email only at the beginning of the day and the end - though I find that impossible. Also, don't be too hard on yourself - offices can be really distracting too, and you have good and bad days wherever you work.

staranise Wed 25-Jun-08 20:01:50

Ban MN on your working days but allow yourself breaks of eg, cup of tea/reading a newspaper say after every hour of work. I never answer the phone or do personal email either on my work days.

Housework I try and confine to the beginning or end of the day when I also have the kids. I have a nanny one day a week and pay so much for her I feel super-guilty if I'm not working in that time.

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