Working from home can be a challenge. With the luxuries (and restrictions) of the office no longer claiming your workspace, you may feel the rush of freedom and the accompanying overwhelm that comes with it. But don’t panic. There are numerous time management tips that you can follow to get the most out of your time at home.
Sure, it can be an adjustment…
- You’ve traded your comfy desk chair in for a rigid kitchen bar stool.
- You’ve traded your healthy office snacks for whatever sugary food is in your pantry.
- The boss that normally sits five feet from you and keeps you focused all day is nowhere to be found.
But with time, you will realize the tremendous opportunity that remote work provides.
A standard office job
I had a standard nine-to-five office job many years ago. I was required to arrive to work at a certain time and wasn’t allowed to leave until a certain time.
Fine. That’s how many businesses operate and that’s OK. The problem was though, I didn’t have anything to do. I’d get to work, power on my computer, get ready to start my day, and then sit there for eight hours. There was no work for me to complete.
I’d ask for more, but was barely given anything.
I’d request more responsibility, but wasn’t granted much.
My days were filled with me roaming the halls, meandering around for hours on end because it was better than staring at a blank computer screen. And, because I was stuck in an office, my time was locked. It wasn’t like I could work on a side project, or read a book, or fold laundry at my desk.
That’s “frowned upon.”
Suffice to say, my time wasn’t being properly utilized and I didn’t stay with the company for very long.
*I got a lot of steps in from walking around so much though. So that’s a plus.
It wasn’t until my next job that I had the option to work from home. At first, I was skeptical. I thought I’d get lonely or be bored working by myself all day. And that did happen. But something amazing also occurred.
I became incredibly productive.
Because I now had more control over my schedule than ever before. I could respond to emails in bulk as opposed to answering them as soon as they came in. I could work on one task in complete silence until I was finished.
Or I could decide to go for a run at 11AM or swim laps if the sun was shining in the early afternoon.
I was able to structure my time in a way that heavily benefited me and my goals.
In turn, the company benefited as well due to my increase in happiness, efficiency, and ownership of my schedule. Plus, during my downtime, my time was free to use however I wished. I could unload the dishwasher, swim those laps that I just mentioned, or work on a side project.
Freedom and confusion
Working remote granted (and still grants) me a tremendous ability to do more with my day. Yes, there are pitfalls that need to be avoided (you can read about those here), but overall I am much better off working from home than in an office.
And if I have my way, I’ll never go back.
That said, trying to get work done from home can be a challenge when you aren’t used to it. Because with the freedom of remote work also comes the confusion of how to best utilize your time. For that reason, I’ve put together the following list of time management tips that you can try out when working from home.
You don’t need to do all of them.
Just pick a tip or two for now. If it’s helpful, keep doing it. If it’s not, try a different one.
1. Time management tips: Make a list
As far as time management tips go, this one is a favorite of many.
When you have a list, you finish things faster. When you don’t have a list, you run back and forth trying to remember your agenda. That’s especially true when you start working remote because your workload is no longer just – finish design – it also includes:
- Vacuum the living room
- Sort the mail
- Prep for dinner
If you try and remember too many things at once, your ability to focus will decrease and your likelihood of forgetting something important will increase. So free your mind of distraction and create a list of the important things you want to get done.
When making this list, try to add action words. For instance, instead of writing:
Pick up dry cleaning.
This will allow your mind to better visualize the action so that when it’s time to go you’ll know exactly what to do.
2. Time management tips: Take action
If you want to learn how to manage time wisely, apply this simple tip: take action.
Move from one task to another with a sense of action and urgency. This momentum will carry you forward as items are checked off your list. Action unlocks opportunity and the more you do today, the more you will do tomorrow – setting yourself up for more great things and opportunities in the future.
It’s really easy to procrastinate when working from home (ie. Netflix). Fight that urge and take action on what you need to do.
3. Time management tips: Seriously, do it now
I know I just told you to take action, but I feel like it needs repeating. So again, go do what you need to do.
Working from home can be great, but when you find yourself taking a long nap every afternoon instead of working towards what’s important, you’re wasting your time. And that’s no good for you, whoever you’re working for, or for the goals that you could be working towards and accomplishing.
When you have something to do then, go ahead and do it immediately.
Don’t wait around procrastinating. Don’t pick it up to only put it back down.
Your to-do list will inevitably get longer as the day progresses, so waste no time and work on what needs to get done. And yes, I know that this is one of the more simplistic time management tips for work, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
4. Time management tips: Set deadlines
Because you are working from home, it is extremely easy to let work and not-work blend into each other. To open up your laptop while watching a movie, to plan a trip while working on a report, to answer a call when with your family.
The problem with the blurring of those lines is that you will feel constantly distracted.
If you can work anytime then you will never feel an urgency to do anything of importance. If you can read a book anytime then you will never experience the pressure to finish that book. Or if you can go for a run anytime you will never get off the couch and do it.
There’s always later.
And when your time seems endless, you are more likely to squander it. Opting for later rather than now. So to prevent that, set hard deadlines for yourself. Tell yourself when you need to complete a certain task by and commit to it.
Draw a line in the sand for whatever it is that you want to do. That way you feel the urgency needed to take action.
5. Time management tips: Work when you should
When you are stuck in an office, you are often required to work the hours that your employer demands. However, one of the best time management tips for professionals working from home is to – work when you feel like you are at your best.
Because you often have more flexibility with your hours when working remote, assuming you can get everything done in a timely manner.
So don’t feel the need to start work at nine if you know that you are more effective at seven.
Use your time at home to work when you should, not when you have to.
Working from home moving forward
Remote work comes with both a major challenge and opportunity. A challenge to use your time wisely and an opportunity to enjoy freedom like never before. Be deliberate about your time through the use of the time management tips provided above.
Create a list, do the work, set deadlines for yourself, and work when you know that you will be most productive.
Take the time to enjoy your work-from-home-lifestyle and do with it what you were never able to do while working in an office. Go check out that new trail, work in complete silence, make progress towards something amazing.
Remote work can get a little tedious at times, but in my opinion, it always beats working in an office.
References and inspirations: