More and more workplaces are offering their employees flexibility—the chance to set their own hours (within certain parameters) and dictate their own routines. Maybe that’s the position you find yourself in: So long as the work gets done, your boss really doesn’t care when you do it. Maybe you don’t even have a boss; maybe you enjoy the perks of entrepreneurship, and relative autonomy.
Flexibility can definitely be a perk. It allows us more options for balancing our work life with family and personal wellbeing. But flexibility can also bring its own stressors; as big projects loom, the absence of a more rigid work schedule can seem daunting, not freeing.
So where’s the happy medium? How do you balance flexibility with real focus? I’ve got just a few basic tips I’m happy to share with you.
Staying Focused, Remaining Flexible
Build rhythms and routine into your day. Just because you have flexibility, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the perks of a routine. Try to start your work day at the same time each morning, and have some basic morning rhythms—like answering emails or having an hour of dedicated creative time—that lend a little bit of familiarity. Even if you ultimately have some variation built into each work day, even the hint of structure can focus your mind on the tasks at hand.
Treat each day like it’s a “real” work day. What do I mean by this? Even if you have a day where your schedule is lighter, or you’re working from a home office, it’s important to put yourself into a professional mind frame. Shower, dress, and get ready just like if you were going in for a “normal” day at the office.
Have an end time, and stick with it. One of the risks of a flexible work schedule is that you’ll work too hard, or sacrifice some of your work-life balance. My simple advice here is to give yourself a hard end time—consistent from one day to the next—and stick to it. Again, it’s all about creating some sense of normalcy and routine.
With these tips, I hope you’ll see how you can be diligent and dedicated, even with a flexible work schedule.