(Photo Credit to Writer 93)
Working from home, as nearly all authors I know do, takes enormous self-discipline, motivation, and time management skills. Luckily, I learned these skills as an over-traditional-age student, who at the age of 35, returned to college to complete my undergraduate degree and then to become a fully funded research assistant in a doctoral program.
While I was in my undergraduate program, I worked two jobs as well as taking either 16 or 21 credits each semester. I knew I was the older slant of getting started on my career and I wanted to speed the process up as much as possible. I also didn’t’ have the luxury of a college fund: I paid for my entire education from grants, scholarships, and student loans (which I, twenty years later, am still paying off).
In order to come up with a way to deal with such a demanding schedule, I had to manage my time down to the minute. It worked. Before I invested my time and energy into the calendar feature in my MS Office Outlook program, I was forever missing deadlines, finding myself late for class or work, and without time for the other important things such as going to the gym, having some free time to spend with those I loved—and well…having a life!
Those skills I learned then were what got me through those eight years and they are skills I still put into practice every day. Each week, I first make a task list (also through the courtesy of Outlook’s ‘Reminders/Follow Up’ add on and write down everything on my plate for the week before me. Then I go through the list and prioritize what I must achieve, the things I’d like to achieve, and those things that still will need my attention—should I, by some miracle, have extra time after accomplishing the ‘must do’ lists.
This really works. For one thing, it helps you feel organized and focus from the minute you open your computer each morning. The first thing I do is to review my day on my Outlook calendar to see what is on task for the day. I block out every 9 – 5 working day hour with specific tasks I must complete, and then I prioritize the other hours with the other most important tasks. I even have lunch, a workout, and any social gatherings I have listed because when you do this, you must be honest and not self-deceive about what you really can (and did!) accomplish.
The result has been gratifying. I have accomplished so much more than I ever did before investing energy into setting up a strong time management program. When I taught college, one of the first things I passed onto students was to use effective time management because I had been in the same situation as most of them: working, going to school, in a relationship, etc.
You really can have it all—you just have to plan for it. Try it for one month and if the results don’t astound you, I’ll eat my blog!