How to Effectively Manage Your Time When You Work From Home
March 6, 2018
Working from home has its perks, but if you’re not careful, the distractions can quickly outweigh the conveniences.
Let’s take a look at five ways you can improve focus and boost productivity, even if you’re working in your pajamas.
It’s relatively easy to hone successful time management skills when you’re working full-time in an office. From morning meetings to afternoon conference calls, your to-do list is usually somewhat scheduled beforehand, and there is rarely a ton of downtime that can throw you off track. Yet, what happens when you’re removed from that traditional workplace setting and instead, are working from home? Though you might begin such a journey convinced that you’ll adhere to your normal working schedule, it can be easy to be thrown off course. After all, you could theoretically work in your pajamas if you wanted to!
How can you ensure that even amid all the comforts of home, you’re still optimizing your time efficiently and making progress?
Here are five tips that can keep you on track.
1. Don’t let the day surprise you.
Sure, you’ll have things that pop up here and there unexpectedly, but for the most part, you should know how your workday is going to go before you even begin it. How? It’s important to create a schedule for yourself and go over it the night before. Is there an important client you need to call before 9:00 a.m.? What about a specific deliverable your boss is looking for? Working from home doesn’t give you a free pass on work and in fact, studies reveal that employees are actually more productive when they do so. Prove these statistics right by planning ahead so even if something does throw you a little off-course, it won’t take long to pick up where you left off.
2. Schedule in breaks.
While we’ve talked thus far about the importance of staying on task, remember that if you were in a traditional office, you’d likely get a lunch break, the chance to go to the water cooler or coffee area, time to go outside, and more. Expecting to sit at your desk in your home office for eight hours without interruption can set you up for failure. Instead, give yourself a little bit of time to leave the computer, stretch, walk around your yard, and grab some food when you need it. Chances are, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on even more work.
3. Minimize distractions.
This one is the toughest to implement, mainly because you’re in your home! It’s full of all of your favorite things, and they’re all within arms reach. Moreover, there isn’t anyone looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not scrolling Facebook when you should really be finishing that major report that was due an hour ago. To this end, there are myriad apps and software programs you can install on your smart devices that will actually prevent you from accessing platforms that could be distracting. From graying out your Instagram icon to actually locking you out of your phone, you can set the level of security depending on how much you need to focus. Along these same lines, resist the urge to play your favorite television show in the background, as you’ll likely find yourself looking up from your work far more often than you planned.
4. Learn the power of “no.”
It’s a common misconception that employees who work from home have more than the average amount of time on their hands. Truthfully, as previously mentioned, you’re likely working just as hard if not harder than your in-office counterparts. To this end, you may be asked to carry a too-full workload that can leave you burnt out and exhausted at the end of every workday. When that happens, your productivity levels drop dramatically. Learn how to say “no” when appropriate to ensure you’re not carrying more than you can handle. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to devote to the high-priority tasks that require your full attention.
5. Keep everything organized.
Whether your home office is a designated room with your diploma on the wall and a walnut writing desk in the middle or simply your living room couch, it’s vital to stay organized and to know where everything is. Think of all the clutter in your home right now, from the mail on the counter to the books stacked on your bedside table. Could an important work document accidently slip into those piles, never to be seen again? If so, reevaluate your organization strategy and filing methods and make sure you have a specific spot for everything. Doing so will help make sure you’re not spending valuable work time fumbling around for lost documents.
So there you have it! While this post is far from exhaustive, these tips and tricks are easy to implement and can make all the difference between a productive, at-home workday and one spent twiddling your thumbs while Netflix reruns play in the background. Utilize them today and start working harder, no matter where you set up your desk.
Courtney Myers is a professional writer and tech enthusiast with more than 10 years in the digital marketing industry. From content creation to startup support, she’s helped dozens of companies find their voice and footing.