For quite awhile now I’ve known that it was time. Time to set up some boundaries. Time to establish office hours. I’ve spent far too many hours in front of a computer screen and I don’t want to turn into a hunchbacked old lady before I can enjoy the prime of my life.
I’m a homeschooling mom of a teen and a tween and they like to sleep. And my husband works from his office in the basement for a company out in California. So days tend to start late around here. But I don’t. I’m a night owl, but my body tends to always pop up wide awake at 7:30 a.m. (Don’t heckle, all you bus stop moms. It might sound divine, but it has it’s drawbacks, too.) My family rolls out of bed before 9:30 a.m. as we’ve adapted to this lifestyle so I usually have two solid hours of the morning of complete silence other than the chatty cat. It’s fabulous. But usually, I end up wasting that time. So here’s what I’ve started to help make the best of those morning hours and set myself on the right track for regular office hours.
1. Figure out how much time I ACTUALLY spend working.
I’m talking to you, Facebook. You’re a big time suck. So I downloaded this great app called ATracker (App store) and There are tons of time tracking apps available in the App Store, but this opportunity to work with the creators landed in my lap, so I didn’t go searching for one. I set to work figuring out how much work I was doing and how much “work” I was doing. *hangs head in shame.* I immediately saw an unexpected perk in this little experiment of mine. When I had made myself track my time on a given task I immediately became more focused on completing it rather than being distracted by too many tempting open tabs. Here’s a quick overview:
The app lets you create various tasks (the ability to track 5 is in the free version but an inexpensive upgrade to the pro version removes ads and opens up lots of extra perks). You can customize your tasks with color coding and by selecting an emoticon from their huge library. Sample: You can also change the skin and make your app experience suit your personality or style. You get a daily overview that shows what you did and it looks like this: And hey…did you notice that it was tracking two things at once? You can totally do that too. Just please let that person be part of a carpool since they were commuting and Facebooking at the same time. I love seeing at a glance what I did for the day. I can’t imagine that I would ever want to track everything I do, but this worked great to help me track my various work tasks and know how to budget my time. After you’ve been using the app for a few days or a week or maybe even a month, you can see cumulative data in a pie chart: or a bar graph: Looking at how I spent my time, really helped me plan how much time to allot for office hours. These various ways of looking at it were super easy to take and incorporate as I developed my office hours. And wow…the revelation about how much time I wasted on social media. Ouch. It forced me to rethink a few things.
2. Make tomorrow’s task list before going to bed.
You guys, this has been huge for me. Taking just a couple of minutes to jot down what I need to get done tomorrow has really helped me to hit the ground running in the morning. It’s like my brain works on that list while I was sleeping, processing all the steps, prioritizing what to do first and solving problems. It. Is. Awesome.
3. Make the most of the early morning hours.
Okay. I know I already said I don’t get up until 7:30 a.m. most days. I know that’s stinkin’ late compared to some people’s schedules. I’m so sorry. But we’ve settled into a schedule that really works for our family. Since the rest of my family doesn’t get up until 9:30 I have two solid hours of morning time to myself. So I started setting an alarm so I wouldn’t miss out on that time. I get the coffee pot ready to go the night before. I have my list written and on my desk waiting for me. Most days. Because y’all, this girl needs just a little bit of grace where a planner is concerned as I’ve made quite clear in the past.
4. Clear the work area of distractions.
I’m really bad about letting clutter pile up on my desk. And then all the things become distractions. I see the bill I need to pay, the book I still haven’t found time to read and more. Clearing all of those things except for the list in my bullet journal and my computer has helped me focus. Clearing your browser tabs is part of this “distraction stuff” too. Sigh. I’m totally guilty of rabbit trailing on the internet and ending up with 19 open tabs. Just don’t ask to see my desk right now. Because…messy. But I’ll clean it up before I go to bed. Pinky promise.
5. Be flexible
I’m finding my office hours need to be somewhat fluid. Now that I know how many hours it will take me to do what I need to accomplish, I can make adjustments based on my availability. This could change daily, but usually I at least have a good idea of how that will look at the beginning of each week. Some of you may love a rigid schedule, but if I try to go there I’ll just end up turning into a total grump. Flexibility helps me feel like I can still be spontaneous. I’m still playing with balancing the work I need to get done and scheduling my time. And I’m finding that I have to give myself permission to ignore housework during my work hours, otherwise I’ll end up screwing up my schedule. But I’m also finding freedom. How about you? Do you have office hours? Are you longing for them because you feel like you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to working at home? Pin it for later!