Routine vs. Flexibility: The balancing act every remote worker faces

Balancing Routine and Flexibility to improve Productivity as a Telecommuter

It’s March, and we’ve had 2 more snow days here in Virginia.  I wonder if the kids will even get a summer break this year?

As I’ve written in a few earlier posts (Snow Days and More Snow Days), Snow Days can be challenging for the  work from home employee.  For me, it can be the disruption of the routine that hurts the most.

Many blog posts about working at home suggest that establishing a routine is a great productivity enhancer for the work at home employee.    Their points are good:  start at a designated time, schedule breaks, quit at quitting time, etc.

But, how do you balance routine with the enormous flexibility that working from home affords?  Isn’t this the #1 reason people want to work at home?

In my 20 years of working from home I have found that following a routine is good practice.  I am a planner by nature.  However, I allow for flexibility in my routine to keep experiencing the benefits of working from home.

If you’re going to be a mindless 8 to 5’er day after day after day with no alterations to the routine, you may as well go into an office! 

My productivity enhancing routine

I have a basic routine that I follow every day:

  1. Get family off to work and school
  2. Walk the dogs
  3. Start work on my task list for Today
  4. Have lunch with my wife when she finishes work
  5. Finish task list items
  6. Create task list for tomorrow
  7. Quit for the day  (I focus less on what time this occurs and more on the completion of today’s tasks)

The Task List

The most important activity for balancing the routine with flexibility is the Task List.  I stick to only one day at a time, and create a discrete list.  If I have a project that spans multiple days, I break everything into smaller tasks and plot them out on the calendar.  When I finish my tasks for the day, I am done working, no matter what the time is.  This gives me the productivity I need, but allows for flexibility when other things come up.

Some days, I need some flexibility.  Like Thursdays, I go to a chapel service at 7:15AM.  So, the dogs miss their walk and I start work a little later today.

No problem, I’m flexible, and that’s why I love working from home.

You can have your cake and eat it too!


2 thoughts on “Routine vs. Flexibility: The balancing act every remote worker faces”

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