Working From Home Organizational Tips
Joanie Ogg CTC, MCC
Do you ever look at your to-do list in the morning and panic? I often schedule things I need to do in my calendar and then neglect to look at it the day before finding my early morning to-do list rather overwhelming. I have been working on my organizational skills and came across some ideas that are really helping me. If you ever have one of the above-mentioned morning wake up calls, perhaps these tips will help you too.
Non Verbal & Verbal Interactions
There are basically two types of interaction you might have with clients during a given workday. The verbal type which is likely to be in person or by phone. Let’s look at the phone communication. Are you a morning person? I know that in the early morning before a typical workday should begin, I am far more attentive to a project. Additionally, the chance of phone calls or other interruptions that might distract me are far less likely to occur. Think about starting your day a couple hours early. Then when the typical work day begins, you are feeling empowered by your smaller to do list.
Those tasks that require verbal interaction /communication might be better tackled during the typical workday hours. Of course, you always want to be aware of the time zone issue if you are dealing with clients or vendors elsewhere.
I found this very cool sample of a schedule for phone calls that makes total sense to me. I struggle with the time zone issue as I am in California part of the year on Pacific Time and then I am in Punta Mita, Mexico for several months and it is Central Time. I try to arrange my phone call schedule during the normal business day, however that is not everyone’s normal business day. Suffice to say it is a challenge. An easy schedule such as the one below could be really helpful
Call Schedule Call To My Time Zone Call Location Time Zone
Sarah 10:00am PDT New York 1:00pm EDT
Frank 10:30am PDT Chicago 12:30pm CDT
Susan 11:00am PDT Denver 12:00pm MDT
April 12:00pm PDT Honolulu 9:00am HADT
It’s All About The Plan
Before tomorrow’s work day begins, make a list tonight of all of those items you want to accomplish by the end of tomorrows workday. The night before, make a list of those tasks you want to have completed Set them by importance and prioritize. Don’t forget to schedule in some cushion time to get up and stretch, get a coffee, etc.
Try to group similar tasks together versus jumping from one type of project to the next. For instance, if you are working on two Hawaii itineraries for two sets of clients, do them one after the other so as to keep your mind focused on the destination offerings. You’ll be much more productive if you group like activities together versus jumping from one project to the next throughout the day.
This is one of the toughest challenges when working from home. It is so easy to do everything but the work you need to do! There is always laundry to do, always home projects to finish, dishes to do and the list goes on. Facebook is a major distraction! What’s a good strategy to avoid these distractions?
The easiest way to cut down on distractions is to simply pull the plug. If you are not focused on email right now, turn it off. Then the distraction of the bell going off or red dot showing on your screen and staring at you while you try to complete a task will not make you waiver from the task at hand. Shut the door to your office, turn the volume on the phone down and do whatever you can to minimize the distractions.
Set aside a specific part of your day for checking e-mail and Facebook, but not first thing in the morning. Instead, take care of your most important tasks first. E-mail has a way of demanding more of your attention as soon as you start reading and responding to messages. Save it for mid-morning or right after lunch when you are “gearing up” for the rest of your day. This is a personal preference. I for one cannot make myself not look at email first thing in the morning. However, I bet I could stop myself from checking Facebook and wasting 20 minutes. Well, I might have to check my son’s page to see if there are any new pictures of my grand daughter though.
There will be emergencies that need your attention or management tasks that require you to respond. It is a good idea to build some extra time into each day to deal with such events. Just handle these as quickly as possible so that you do not get off track.
The answer to getting more done working at home is to plan your work ahead of time and stay organized. Try to keep the following top of mind:
• Create tomorrows to-do list at the end of the previous day.
• Set your schedule by prioritizing your tasks by their level of importance.
• Schedule similar tasks close together.
• Manage your distractions by pulling the plugs.
• Take a well-deserved break!