September 22, 2020

What Is Your Work-From-Home Routine?

What Is Your Work-From-Home Routine?
young professional woman works on computer from her kitchen at home

Readers, what is your work-from-home routine? Have you settled into a good flow for each day, or does it vary widely? How is it different from the office routine you had previously?

We’ve talked about how to make the most of your naturally productive times and morning office routines, as well as how to manage your time in the past — but I think this is the first time we’ve talked about work-from-home routines. You may also want to read our recent roundup of tips from moms who work at home, as well as all our best work-from-home tips!

{related: how to focus when you work from home}

Elizabeth’s Work-From-Home Routine

I should note up front that I’m an introverted homebody by nature and I live alone, so this setup has not been nearly as hard on me as it could have been.

7:00–7:45 a.m. I am not a morning person, so I use the time that I would normally be spending on getting ready and commuting to wake up slowly, watch a little TV, and listen to the news. (Strong plug for NPR’s Up First podcast – it’s less than 15 minutes and a good way to get myself oriented to the news of the day.)

7:45–8:00 a.m. Get dressed, fix my hair, and put on just enough makeup to look alive (concealer, mascara, a little bit of blush). Even when I’m working from home, I still have a fair number of video conferences, court appearances, and depositions that require me to change out of pajamas and pull myself together.

8:00–10:00 a.m.: Make breakfast. If it’s nice enough, I take my laptop out to the patio to get started working for the day.

10:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Change of scenery — move to home office and work from my desk until lunch.

12:30–1:30 p.m. I try to take a full lunch break, which is not something I typically do in the office. I make lunch and either call my parents (who are also stuck at home) or Zoom with coworkers to touch base.

1:30–6:00 p.m. More work in the home office. I try to take 10–15 mins at some point during the afternoon to chitchat with a coworker or a friend via phone or text.

6:00ish: Shut down computer for the day, if I can. Go for a walk outside and listen to an audiobook or podcast, or hop on the Peloton or treadmill.

7:00 p.m. Make dinner and phone/Zoom with family or friends while I cook, eat, and clean up.

8:00–10:00 p.m. Shower, get ready for bed, watch TV until it’s time for lights out.

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Kate’s Work-From-Home Routine

I’ve been working from home for years, but I don’t have a set schedule. (I work part time, which makes it easier to avoid adding structure to my days … but it’s not ideal.) Here’s how this summer has generally been going: 

7:00 a.m. Alarm goes off; either get up or snooze until 7:30ish. 

8:00 a.m. Make breakfast for my son; pack his lunch. Make sure he gets dressed, brushes his teeth, etc. 

9:00 a.m. Drop him off at camp. I may do a quick errand like return things to the library.

9:30 a.m. Eat breakfast (plain Cheerios, granola, and chia seeds every day!); scroll through Twitter. 

10:00 a.m. Time to work. My husband is still working from home and uses our home office. I prefer to have my own space, and he has a lot of phone calls/Zoom calls (and we both always have Spotify on), so I use the secretary desk in the bedroom — with my laptop on the top, and an ancient Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, wrist-rest mousepad, and an old wireless mouse on the fold-out part. I have this office chair with a Purple seat cushion and my Hillary Clinton campaign pillow (sigh).

{related: the best Spotify playlists to help you focus}

10:00 a.m.–1:00ish: Work and more — maybe do some laundry or fill the bird feeders or do random other things. Go through work and non-work emails. Throughout the day, I do a bunch of work stuff, like check emails, go on Slack, help moderate comments, keep an eye out for articles to use in our news posts, come up with story ideas and pitch stories to publications, etc., but I try to keep my writing to the morning when I’m “fresher.”

Afternoon: Eat lunch, usually something like reheated frozen pizza — fancy! Lately, I watch Selling Sunset as my guilty pleasure. Work/chores/errands. Check social media; read the news; go through emails. 

2:00–2:30 p.m. Work out. (Really, my exercise times vary wildly during the week. On Mondays, I do a half-hour Zoom workout with my trainer.)

2:30–3:15 p.m. Shower/get ready; I often listen to a podcast, and I just started Nice White Parents.

3:30 p.m. Pick up my son at camp. Sometimes I drop him off at home and then do an errand or two. 

4:00–5:30ish: I may or may not do Corporette work or other writing; text with a friend; talk to my mom on the phone. I’ve also taken a couple of free/cheap classes recently (e.g., from Pandemic University). 

{related: online classes to take for fun during quarantine}

5:30ish. Sit with my son as he practices viola. Once a week, he has a Zoom viola lesson at this time.

6:00ish or 7:00ish: Have dinner. 

7:00/8:00–9:00 p.m. Screen time for everyone; clean up after dinner; my son gets ready for bed; he and I play Words With Friends together. 

9:00–11:30ish: Sometimes I fit in some work here, or scroll through Twitter/Reddit, etc. Usually I’m too tired to be productive, but I always think I will be.

11:30ish: If I haven’t already fallen asleep, go to bed. 

Weekends: Sometimes I work a bit on either Saturday or Sunday, but my expectations are always greater than my output!

Note: My days will look very different soon when school starts… (Our son will be two days a week at school and three days at home. Solidarity with all the working moms out there!)

Kat’s Work-From-Home Routine

My work-from-home routine is a bit weird because I work for myself and the work is all blog, so I’ve put it last. I’ve been working from home for years also, but with the kids home my routine has changed significantly.

Pre-COVID, I had a great rule about getting a workout in before 9:30 and even had a time-blocked schedule with different aspects of the blog to focus on from 8:30–5:00.

Post-COVID, sharing work-time with my husband and splitting Parent-In-Charge time between the two of us and another family caregiver looks like this during the workweek:

(5:00–11:30 a.m. Minimal work like checking comments, putting out fires, trying to at least review/delete emails, check in with Slack, and other stuff that can be done from a phone/iPad/Chromebook. My husband and the kids are all morning larks, whereas I’m a night owl, so I feel like I’m sludging along with brain fog until about 9:30 or 10:00. I try to drink no more than one cup of coffee and, if I’m really on top of my game, drink 32 oz. of water before I eat a light breakfast somewhere between 10:30–11:30.)

11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Desktop time! Putting finishing touches on the day’s content for both blogs. Respond to pressing emails or other blog and family matters that need more focus than I can give when I’m with the kids. Also eat lunch somewhere in there. 

{related: how to set up a great home office}

2:30–3:30 p.m. window. Find time to exercise for 20–30 minutes (weights, cardio, or walk) — afternoon tea or snack. If I’m lifting weights I usually watch an old episode of Schitt’s Creek, lately while I use the FitBod app (review to come, I really love it!)

2:30–6:00 p.m. Fall down rabbitholes for blog — some days this looks like updating 10,000 older posts from the old WordPress format to the newer WordPress format (something I’ll have to do anyway eventually); sometimes this means working on the Corporette store (which is coming!); sometimes it means doing all the Coffee Breaks for the next week, or writing 3–5 rough drafts for posts; sometimes it’s doing Pins or other social media management; sometimes it’s updating older content that is doing well in search but would be boring for the readers to see more than once every few years (like wide heels or busty blouses).

I know it sounds unfocused but this is usually the time I find my flow and focus. Mornings are much harder for me to focus unless I go somewhere else — if I take writing prompts or ideas for Corporette posts with me I can sometimes bang out rough drafts for 3–4 posts in an hour.

6:00–8:00 p.m. Dinner/bedtime/bath funnel. I’m generally in charge of planning/purchasing/recipe-sourcing dinner, but my husband usually makes it, which lets me work right until dinner. I’m usually in a flow by then that I wish I could work through. (I’ve written before about how naturally productive times and family times often collide for me!)

{related: how to make the most of your productive times}

Fridays are a bit unusual because there isn’t a ton of pressing content (Kate does the news roundup, although we both collect links during the week, and I often have the Weekend Open Thread done by then), so I often try to plan content, review analytics, or work on bigger projects that are harder to get into with the limited time available on the other days. Kate and I also have a call every other Friday to go over content and plans.

As the kids get older, my weekends are opening back up and I can sometimes find 4–6 hours on the weekend to fall down rabbitholes as well. Some weekday evenings I work also, although by 8:00 p.m. I’m usually shot mentally. I’m starting to get into a good routine of doing a 20- to 30-minute Hatha or restorative yoga session before bed some nights if energy allows.

We’re generally in bed by 9:30 (maybe to watch an episode or two of whatever show we’re binging, lately Ozarks). I may stay up until 11:30–1:30 reading books (or doomscrolling, yay!). If I’m playing an Internet game I try to listen to the audio of one of the many blog-related courses that I’m taking right now. (I keep buying them and then not finishing them so I’m somewhere actively in the middle of like 40 classes right now. No, not great!) I’m working on going to bed earlier!

Readers who are working from homes — what is YOUR work-from-home routine? When do you generally start/end work for the day — and when in the day is your most productive (or, as Kat put it, do you find your flow)? If you’re new to working from home, what have been your best productivity tips? 

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