Analog alarm clock that says 7:00 a.m. and sitting on a nightstand

The new year always brings a reflection about the things that weren’t working in the old one.  This is supposed to be an uplifting experience.

Unfortunately, I tend to get muddled in the “what I should have dones”.  I should have made this many sales, released this new design collection, spent more time with my family.  The list could get pretty long if I let it.

Instead of dwelling on so many negatives, I need to focus on making positive changes in my life and business.  I recently realized that since our move in September, my work from home routine has been pretty non-existent.

Part of it is all the boxes.  My office and studio spaces are still in shambles.  For some reason, I haven’t found any motivation to start tackling them.

The other thing is the time excuse.  I find myself constantly saying: “One day I’ll get to it.”

Have you ever noticed that one day never comes?

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s that I don’t have enough time or lack a work at home routine that motivates me to actually be productive.  I am beginning to think it is the latter.

Working from home is hard stuff.   Without a work from home routine that encourages productivity it is difficult to set important boundaries.  The result is that I get less done and waste a lot of time during working hours.  Not sure boundary lines will ever be distinctly drawn, but a work from home routine can help them find some definition.

Unfortunately, creating work from home routines with kids is even harder.  Their needs grow so fast that by the time a work from home routine is set, something or another is changing in their lives again.  This is especially true if you’re caring for multiple young children at home or have kids close in age.

Creating a work from home routine that works for everyone and your business is not for the faint of heart.  For now, I’ve decided to focus on fixing my morning work routine first.  This is my most productive time of day when I am the most alert and the house is quiet.  I depend on early morning hours to get work done. This lets me be more present with the kids during the day.

Teal blue alarm clock with the text overlay "Why you need a work from home routine"

Setting your own work from home routines can be hard in the beginning, but the New Year is a perfect time to start.  Here are some tips for getting a successful work at home routine in place quickly to kick off this New Year right.

Study your Family’s Natural Rhythms

Before you can determine a work from home routine that will work best, watch the timing of your family’s basic needs every day.  Consider when everyone eats meals, takes rest time, wakes up and goes to bed.

You’ll discover over time, that these tasks have a natural rhythm that’s cyclical.  After you figure out your family’s daily rhythm, determine the best places work fits in.  For me, it’s first thing in the morning and after lunch.  These are the times when the kids are sleeping or at least engaged in quieter independent activities.

Think in Time Chunks

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Ultimately, how productive we are is a result in how we use them.  And some people are just better at using their hours than others.

If you aren’t someone who has completely mastered the art of productivity, I recommend referencing the movie About a Boy.

I was always in awe about how he divided his day into units to keep himself sane and busy.  Although he didn’t always use his time units for the best needs, at least not at first, dividing his day into time chunks did keep him productive and his life structured.

This time blocking technique is an effective way to create a work from home routine.  It will help make your hours more productive and keep you focused as you build your business.

During each day, aim for half hour to hour time chunks to complete different tasks.  Use each chunk of time to complete a business task, household chore or spend time with your kids.

Time blocking works best when you combine similar activities together.  By using your time more efficiently, you can get a lot more done.  You can find more information to set up your own time blocked schedule here.

Set Aside Time Daily to Work

When setting up a work from home routine, business needs can sometimes fall to the wayside.  Especially when trying to take care of your family’s needs too.

As you create your work from home routine, make sure you add time to work on your business each day.  I know this might sound obvious, but if you’re caught up in family life, you might forget.

Be sure to include enough time in your daily routine for all of your business tasks.  And be specific about what you want to do when.

If you need to schedule networking calls in the morning, then block it off.  If you plan on creating social media posts and take photos for your blog, set aside time for these tasks.

It doesn’t matter how small a task seems, make sure you include time to get it done.  Include scheduled time to check email, scroll social media and create a Pinterest pin for your latest blog post.

Creating a work at home routine isn’t that difficult, but if you aren’t including time for ALL of your important daily work tasks, you won’t ever find time for them.

If you have small children and you’re working from home, it’s also important to plan something for the kids to do at the same time.  When my littles were smaller, I originally thought that they’d entertain themselves from an early age.  I quickly learned that staying home with your kids is it’s own full time job.

Make sure to include the activities that you plan for your kids to do while you work on your daily schedule too.  By figuring out both ahead of time, you’ll prevent wasting time finding an activity while you should be working.

Don’t be Afraid to Schedule Two Things at Once

Although I am not a fan of multi-tasking, it’s often necessary to schedule more than one activity at the same time.  Think about ballet lessons and social media scheduling.  Or going to your local coffee shop while your child is in Girl Scouts.

If two things on your to do list seem like a good match, it’s okay to schedule them together.

I also use waiting time during the day to complete basic five minute tasks on my to do list.  By using this time more productively, I don’t feel like I’m wasting as many of quieter moments.

Write It Down for All to See

If you create a routine you want the entire family to follow, then you need to post it where everyone can see it.  This way everyone knows what should be happening when.  By posting your work from home routine somewhere the family can all reference it, it will be easier to get everyone on board.

Post your daily or weekly work from home routine in the kitchen or another gathering space in your home.  It will help keep everyone accountable (and kids love to check if you are following it – sometimes too much).

Pretty desk with a coffee cup, watch and flowers and the text overlay "Why you need a routine when working from home"

Leave Time for Transitions

One of the best things I learned about classroom lesson planning when I was studying to be a teacher is the importance for transitions.  For the happiness of all of your students (and yourself), it was important to leave time for transitions.

Everyday life isn’t any different.  No matter your age, everyone needs to take a breather or pause to transition to the next activity.

When creating your daily routine, make sure that you leave some time to grab a snack and relax.  This is a great moment to scan social media or your favorite app.  (If you have younger children, they might need extra long transition times – particularly after nap times.)

When you’re headed somewhere important, add in buffer time to get there.  Everyone travels better when they feel less stressed and you never know what traffic will be like.

But what if I don’t think I really need a work from home routine?

I completely understand.  Not everyone is a routine type of person.  And one of the reasons you might choose to work from home is to get rid of the traditional work place and not have a work from home routine.

I’ve even read articles that say that routines can stifle your creativity.  I am convinced, though, to be a successful business mom and creative entrepreneur, it’s important to have at least some sort of work from home routine in place.  Let’s note that this advice is coming from someone who has lived a life lacking any kind of routine many times.

I did find that when I chose not to follow a work from home routine, I had a difficult time focusing on what tasks I needed to do next.  Many of my days were just a set of tasks that I completed when I felt like it or could find the time.

Sadly, the tasks that I chose to work on weren’t always focused on my long term goals.  Once I started using a work from home routine, especially a time block version, my productivity increased and I was suddenly working on the right things.

If routines are really not your thing, try experimenting with a work from home routine for a week and see how you feel.  If you’re productivity increases, maybe having a work from home routine is a good idea.

Final Thoughts…

Working from home and running your own business can be great because you do not have to set a schedule or report constantly to a boss.  Unfortunately, this can also cause productivity issues when attempting to meet your goals.

Most importantly, find a work from home routine that works for YOU.  If a personal schedule with time blocks or just a short to do list keeps you on the track to success, then explore these methods.  The work from home routine that you design doesn’t need to be complicated.  No matter what method you choose, it’s sure to help keep you stay on task.

Here’s to our new work from home routines and, hopefully, it will bring you more productivity in the new year.

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