How I Optimize My Remote Work Schedule Template

Working from wherever I want provides an extreme level of flexibility and all but eliminates the anxiety of “sunday scaries,” but it is essential that I develop an effective remote work schedule template to maximize my time and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

As I’ve described in previous articles, I fall under the obsessive-compulsive disorder and clinical depression spectrum and both of these aspects of my mental health are eased by routine. While some people may loathe the idea of categorizing and scheduling because they love spontaneity, I am the opposite. I spend loads of mental energy thinking of ways to be more efficient. Remote work demands it. My mental health and wellness appreciate it.

Achieving a level of productivity you’re aiming for while juggling the comforts and chaos of home life can be approached like a science. The goal here is to use my remote work schedule template as a guide to help you pick up some tips on how to transform and improve your own remote work experience.

Regardless of what my schedule actually allows in terms of meetings and obligations, I always try to satisfy these categories: morning rituals, what to wear, separate working space, task planning, scheduled breaks, healthy meals, socializing, enhancing focus, physical activity, meditation, winding down, and unplugging.

This example remote work schedule template below is indicative of my typical workday and my hope is that it helps you brainstorm some ways to organize and improve your own routines.

Hourly Remote Work Schedule

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

  • I typically roll out of bed between 7:30 AM and 8:00 AM. So much of this depends on what time my 3-year-old half Cavalier King Charles and half Toy Fox Terrier, Odessa, jumps off the bed and demands food and outdoors time.
  • I floss and brush my teeth (in that order), wash my face, put on face lotion, roll on some deodorant, and throw on my daily outfit. My daily outfit typically consists of: chinos or jeans, a polo or t-shirt, and a pair of comfy socks. My goal is to be comfortable, but not sloppy. I personally need to be in regular clothes (not PJs or sweat pants) to feel productive and put me into a “work” state of mind. Your mileage may vary.
  • While Odessa occupies herself in the backyard, I put out her food and water and grind some beans for a pour over coffee. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my morning coffee. I take the time to make a delicious cup.
  • As she eats her food, I usually have some greek yogurt with dried fruit in it or one of those quick cook oatmeal packets. I’m not often terribly hungry in the morning, but I want to get some food in me so I’m not chugging acidic hot bean water on an empty stomach.
  • Once everything is settled with me and the dog, I go upstairs with my coffee into my office and turn on my work laptop and dual monitor setup. I usually put ESPN on the TV in there and catch some sports talk while I skim over emails. There’s a little bed set up in the corner in case my dog wants to join me.

9:00 AM –  12:00 PM

  • This time is reserved for the utmost productivity. I read and respond to emails, check Slack or Microsoft Teams channels for updates, check in with my boss and my direct reports and get prepared for what the day holds.
  • My to-do list for the day is also crafted within this timeframe. I make sure to prioritize my workload based on time sensitivity of tasks as well as providing updates on ongoing projects. In the digital marketing and advertising world, keeping as tidy of notes as possible and lists of ongoing priorities helps immensely. I use Google Keep or Microsoft OneNote, depending on what the company uses and if I need to share it.
  • I enhance my focus by leaving my cell phone in another room so that I can focus exclusively on work for these 3 hours without distractions. If the TV is pulling my attention, I also turn that off and put instrumental music on my headphones instead.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

  • This part of my schedule is the most variable. Sometimes I’m not hungry at noon or there are meetings that are overlapping, so it’s more of a moving target. This hour block exists to give me a chance to make lunch and spend time with the dog.
  • Within the first thirty minutes, I either take Odessa for a walk, play fetch in the backyard, or combine either of these with some training lessons. Spending personal time with my dog is a super important part of my life and it improves my mood and furthers our bond.
  • The latter thirty minutes of this time block is for making a healthy lunch. I love to cook, so I’m usually just heating up leftovers from the night before and sitting down to catch up on news and text messages. If I have to make something, it’s usually a salad, eggs, or a frozen veggie patty. Convenience foods that are also healthy help me stay on schedule while eating well.

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

  • This three hour block is the other half of my intensely focused productivity. I spend this time making progress on all of my tasks or helping with requests from my direct reports, boss, or other teams I collaborate with. There are typically multiple meetings in this timeframe that require preparation work as well as action items afterward.
  • I cross reference my to-do list and check off all the tasks I’ve completed. I bold anything that I wanted to complete, but I didn’t have time to do so.
  • Just like the morning block, I leave my cell phone in another room and give 100% of my mental energy toward my work.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

  • This is the time in which I send memes and joke around with coworkers. Sometimes we’ll even have a stand up at the end of the day, if everyone’s time allows. I love joking around and chatting on a personal level with coworkers, so I like to allocate part of my day to catching up.
  • I am also working during this time doing administrative tasks like updating my calendar or filing away emails as well as some light tasks that can be done with less than 100% of my attention.

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • This is typically when I start winding down at work. Sure, there can be days where I stay logged on a bit later if there’s a huge project or something that requires extra effort. It’s just not every day. My typical day ends around 6-ish.
  • I use this time to again go over my to-do list and add any items that I may have missed or may have popped up in conversations since I last read over it.
  • I check in with my direct reports and my boss to offer any help before I log off to make sure that they’re all in a good place to do the same. If they need help, I’ll hop on a call and run through their needs and try to lend a hand, advice, or a second set of eyes to their obstacle.

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM

  • This is the time I use to exercise. I have a squat cage and bench with dumbbells and barbells in my garage so I alternate between that and the Peloton. It’s a good way for me to work out any stresses of the day and release some endorphins.

6:45 PM – 7:00 PM

  • After getting all sweaty, it’s important to take a shower or a quick bubble bath. I listen to music or podcasts and relax a little.
  • Afterward, I dry off completely and run through a body lotion skincare routine.

7:00 PM – 7:45 PM

  • Cooking relaxes me, so I always make something for dinner during this time. Granted, not everything can be made in forty five minutes. Sometimes the prep work can be done in the morning before I log on or during my lunch. This includes chopping vegetables, defrosting meat, and all the mise en place.
  • Cooking is like my zen time and it gives me a lot of mental relief to be so focused on an orderly activity.
  • I give Odessa her dinner while I sit down at the dining room table and eat. Sometimes I’ll put on music or something to watch on my phone to keep me company. Other times I’ll catch up on news and text message conversations.

7:45 PM – 8:30 PM

  • Meditation time is assigned to this forty five minute block. I sit in my recliner chair and close my eyes and focus on picturing a dancing candle flame in a pitch black room. Every time my mind wanders, I try to bring it back. The idea is to regain control and focus.

8:30 PM – Whenever I’m Tired

  • This is another variable time block and represents the personal time where I can while away the remainder of my night with simple pleasures. It can include reading, writing, surfing the internet, watching YouTube videos, catching up on shows, playing video games, listening to music while snuggling my dog, talking on the phone, doing laundry or dishes, or anything that I feel like doing with my free time.
  • I try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but that’s not always the case. I’m not someone who needs eight hours of sleep per night. I usually hover somewhere around six to seven.
  • When it’s time for bed, I let Odessa out one last time to relieve herself. When she comes back in I say “upstairs” and she runs up into her crate. I follow her and give her a treat and she stays in there until I’m done with my routines.
  • I check all the doors to make sure they’re locked, turn off the outside lights, check that the stove is off, and go upstairs to brush my teeth before I let Odessa out of her crate and she hops into bed with me.
  • I turn on the white noise machine and the fan and usually listen to some ASMR until I pass out.

Incorporating Elements of My Remote Work Schedule Template Into Your Own

After taking a look at the above remote work schedule, think about what fits comfortably into your life. The most useful schedule is one that is achievable. You don’t have to do exactly what I do, but try to consider all the pieces of it. Think about my list of categories and criteria and apply those fundamental building blocks to your own routine.

Over time, it’s easy to see what works and what doesn’t.

For the longest time, I wouldn’t get dressed in normal clothes every day. I’d always be in sweatpants or pajamas. It made me feel like I wasn’t really working.

Keeping track of how you feel and what activities are most helpful allows you the flexibility to optimize this remote work schedule template to fix your needs. The more honest you are, the easier it will be to evolve.

Incorporating this philosophy in your remote work life can help create a more structured, productive, and satisfying workday.