Four Ways to Set up a WFH Schedule that Won’t Burn You Out

As we try to adapt to a “new normal” the best we can. Nicole Lapin, author of career guide Becoming Super Woman, shares how to find control amidst the chaos on a schedule you choose.

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Andrea Piacquadio
Andrea Piacquadio

The rough outline of your day probably has a lot of blanks like mine does. For example, my schedule outline has things like “shoot video or write” and “deal with logistical stuff.” You might have things like “outline notes before new client project proposal” and “organize household paperwork.” 

That outline might feel a bit up in the air now, especially if you’re newly working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a lot that could fit into areas of your outline, like figuring out how to best approach setting up a new work process or deciding whether you’re going to tackle negotiating your monthly bills. But the best fits are the tasks that, you guessed it, move you toward accomplishing your goals. 

“But there’s wayyyyy too much I need to do today—I’ll never be able to fit it all in, much less think about goals, especially during a global crisis.” Even if we don’t know all the ins and outs of what’s to come, moving forward with your goals and planning your schedule accordingly can be helpful to get through the day-to-day. I have a daily exercise to help you figure out what exactly you do need to do today. At the outset, I know it looks like I’m adding yet another “to-do” to your already-packed day, but I promise the time investment is worth it. 

Grab a notebook. Here’s what you need to establish: 

What’s already scheduled today?

Identify everything nonnegotiable already on your calendar. In a normal world, this includes your commute, important meetings and commitments like picking up your kid from daycare.  Right now, it might be Zoom meetings with your coworkers, submitting a project wrapup, helping your kid with a project, and remembering breaks for yourself! 

What I could do?

Brain dump all the things you can possibly think of that could work for the “fill in the blanks.” This includes the specific tasks within each area. So the “outline notes” slot would have things like determining your plan of attack for that new client project proposal and tracking down and printing out all the positive feedback you’ve received, as mentioned above. 

What fits with my goals? 

First, know what your goals are. Then eliminate whatever is not super time-sensitive in your brain dump. Which of the things remaining align with your goals? Rank those in descending order of priority. Start with number one—aka, it must get done today—and save the items you don’t get to for another day. There will be time.

Be Intentional.

“Busy” people fill in their schedule indiscriminately: organizing your desktop, picking up a few essentials at the store, and messaging with an acquaintance whom you have no real interest in catching up with are all examples of this. “Productive” Super Women prioritize their tasks in accordance with their goals and Emotional Wellness needs: nailing a major deadline at work, crushing your favorite workout, and checking in with a close friend who is going through a tough time are examples of this. We pay close attention to what we do with our day and put thoughtful intention into how we fill in our schedule. 

Excerpted from Becoming Super Woman: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Go from Burnout to Balance

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