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Carve out a productive daily schedule at home during COVID-19

Finding a program that works for you, while meeting your goals, takes time management and self discipline

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Couple working at opposite sides of desk at homeWhen working from home, you must figure out how best to utilize your space to meet professional goals and objectives (Morsa Images/Getty)

You’ve been working remotely for weeks due to COVID-19, yet you’re still rolling out of bed to make that 9 a.m. meeting and you’ve missed another week of exercising.

Establishing a new routine isn’t easy at the best of times, with bad habits forming fast. 

Here are some tips for self-structuring when working from home, so you can get your work done and your workouts back on track.   


The first couple weeks into this, it was about damage control over long-term planning, says Beverly Beuermann-King, stress and resiliency expert of Work Smart Live Smart.

“Everyone was just doing what needs to get done. The joke was ‘are you still working in your pyjamas?’,” she says.

Now that we realize this reality is sticking around, carving out a new normal is essential. “We need to ask what our new workday is going to look like,’” adds Beuermann-King. “The more we can figure out a routine, the more predictable it is, the more structured it is, the less chaos we feel around us.”   

Establishing what works and doesn’t work for you is key, as not everybody works the same way, says CPA Melanie Schroeder, a B.C.-based holistic accountant, coach and counsellor. Do you need a separate workspace, or will the kitchen table suffice? Do you need to get up and dressed to be productive?

If you’ve got a family, you’ll need to work with them to establish a realistic schedule that suits everyone. The same goes when slotting in time for exercise, eating and taking breaks. Schroeder, for example, sets reminders on her phone for must-dos, whether it’s walking the dog, doing an online yoga class or folding laundry. 

“It’s times like these where it’s even more important to have the structure,” she says. “If you want to maintain your health, this is when we have to be even more diligent.”

You’ll also need tactics to mitigate distractions. Schroeder recommends writing out what you want to accomplish each day and things that could prevent you from getting them done. “It is a risk assessment. Here are your goals, here is how you are going to do it and what would stop from doing it.” 


Like anything you set out to do, how it turns out often comes down to perception. 

Motivate yourself by marking the start and end of the day with a particular action, advises Schroeder. Getting up, showering and making a coffee before sitting down at your computer, then ending the day with a brisk walk with the dog, for example.

“Delineate the start and end of day to make it separate from work and home,” she says. “Some people walk out the door and back in, like they are going into the office, and do the same thing at the end of the day when leaving.”

Abandon the idea of work-life balance, adds David Dial, founder of Calgary-based Dial Solutions Group, which helps organizations successfully develop and manage their people. It’s more like work-life integration, he says. 

Unlike an office environment, where it’s traditionally about time on-site, working from home is about outcomes achieved, with specific timeslots carved out to complete tasks.  This often requires more discipline, he explains. 

“When working from home, there’s a different focus,” he says. “The laundry can become so much more of a priority than doing some work. We will find things to do … [It’s about] how do I make sure I’m setting specific times to do specific things.”


Whether it’s a colleague, manager, roommate or spouse, designate someone who you can check in with to communicate goals and accomplishments. Then report to them daily to keep yourself on track, says Schroeder. 

“Have an accountability buddy,” she says. “We are all facing that sense of isolation. It can be a quick five- to 10-minute check-in.” 

With isolation and the pandemic comes stress and anxiety. If you find yourself unable to fulfil your professional responsibilities, be open with your manager identifying the issue and offering potential solutions. 

“We have to get better at communicating … helping leaders understand what the impact of this is,” says Beuermann-King. “How they need to up and change the communication and be aware of the stress symptoms [to look out for].” 

Lastly, at the end of each day, make sure you unplug, reminds Dial. The lines between work and personal life are blurred when working from home. It takes due diligence to ensure there is clear separation between the two, he says, even if they’re co-habiting for a while. 


Get tips on how to work effectively from home with your kids in tow and how to stay in touch with your clients during the pandemic. Also, stay up-to-date with the latest news related to the accounting profession, including a compilation of external resources and online news articles related to the impact of the coronavirus.