Working from home can be a free and exciting experience for many people but also a challenge for others. How can you stay on task when there are dishes to wash, clothes to dry, and so many entertaining things to watch on television? You’re not alone if working from home has been a rough transition, and you feel you need a little help to get back on track.
These 25 tips will help you learn how to manage time at home properly.
Why is time management important for remote workers?
Remote work is often glamorized as something that has no rules. You can be your own boss, set your own schedule, and get things done on your time. It all sounds almost too good to be true, and that is because it is too good to be true in a lot of ways. In reality, time management for remote and remote-first workers is even more critical than it is for workers who have remained in the office.
While it is accurate to say that your boss is not physically in the room with you when you work from home, it is also true that there are many ways that companies can track how their workers are performing when they work from home.
Additionally, even those who work for themselves and work from home must keep tabs on how they spend their time if they want to make the kind of money that they know they need to make to be happy with their daily performance. Time management for remote workers helps them stay on task, get things done, and impress their bosses with their level of production.
Why is it difficult to manage time while working from home?
You can probably imagine a number of distractions that could prove challenging for work-from-home employees. A few that people have reported include:
- The lure of distractions like social media and television
- Children or pets causing issues in the home
- The temptation to slack off because of the feeling that no one is watching
There is something about the lack of formality and structure that comes with working from home that enables some people to trick themselves into thinking that they can slack off through the day a bit more easily. Perhaps they will get away with it for a while because they aren’t be monitored as closely as they would be if they were in the office. However, those who do this too often may find themselves in a major predicament when they aren’t as caught up on their tasks as they know they should be. It can be damaging to their reputation as an employee, and no one wants to establish that look for themselves.
25 time management tips on how to manage time at home
Let’s get to what you desperately want to know about, and those are the tips for how to stay on task and get things done even as you work remotely. These are some of our best ideas for how to stay on the ball and be content with your level of production at the end of the day.
1. Work On Your Schedule With Your Family
Just because you are at home now does not mean that your family gets to monopolize every moment of your time. It is hard for some family members to understand why they don’t get to distract you or spend every moment with you now that you are at home.
What you need to try to explain to them is the fact that you are at home does not change the reality that you are working. You should try to work out a schedule with them so they are able to see you as often as possible, but also so that you are able to get the things done that need to get done.
2. Start Early And Accomplish Big Things
If you are setting your own schedule, you will probably feel the lure of wanting to sleep in later than normal. Part of your work from home time management strategy must be to avoid giving in to that temptation. You need to do what you can to start work early and get things done. When you dive right into your work, you can get more accomplished, and you can do so without giving up significant parts of your day that matter to you.
3. Eat The Frog
Wait what? Eat the frog? It sounds strange, but all that this means is that you take your most unpleasant task and get it done first thing in the morning.
So the best thing to do is to eliminate this unpleasant task by getting it out of the way and eat the frog first thing in the morning. Then the job is done and you can move on to other things.
The person who does this is taking the worst element of their day and defanging it. In other words, they are getting over the mental hurdles that come with whichever task they don’t want to handle so that they can move on the taking care of other things.
4. Use Pomodoro Technique
You might feel like you are a productivity machine that doesn’t stop and never has unproductive days, but eventually, you will hit a brick wall if you keep trying to do that. Everyone needs a break from time to time to allow their mind to wander and to recharge their batteries. Use a Pomodoro technique to time out your work bursts and your breaks.
You should be able to set your timer for approximately 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. The break doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should be taken on a regular schedule. Simply walk away from your work for a few moments and allow yourself the time to get ready for another round.
5. Make A To-Do List Every Day
Everyone has certain chores that they would like to accomplish in a given day, and it is best to write those chores down so you know what you are aiming for. When you have a written to-do list to rely on, you can make a lot more use of the time that you pour into your day.
You will probably find that you come to rely on your to-do list pretty heavily as time goes on. After all, it is what will help keep you on task when your brain wants to do anything but work as it is supposed to.
6. Meal Prepping Saves Hours
Meal prepping is great for work from home time management for two major reasons:
- It saves you time each day by consolidating all of your cooking time into a single day.
- It takes the guesswork out of what you are going to eat for the day. You know ahead of time because you have already made your meals.
Instead of letting your mind drift to what you are eating for lunch later that day, why not keep it on task by already having your meals prepped and ready to go?
7. Don’t Keep Yourself On-Call
Since you are already at home, you might think that you can keep yourself available to your boss, your clients, and others at all times. However, you would never do this if you were working in a traditional office, and you shouldn’t do it now that you are working from home.
Making yourself that available sets expectations for everyone, and those are expectations that you do not want. Keep in mind that you are still allowed to have a personal life, and you do not want to let people come into your life for business purposes during times that should be reversed for your personal life.
8. Keep Your Digital Distractions Away
You are probably guilty of having some digital distractions always available to you at all times. People like to keep their cell phones close at hand, and many of us are guilty of sneaking a peek at them every once in a while as we are working. If it were really just a small problem like that, then it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
However, the reality is that a few minutes here or there often transforms into a much bigger problem as time goes on. Thus, we should try to keep our digital distractions away so we can buckle down and get work done.
9. Create a Space Only for Work
The place that you get work done in your home should have a special designation for getting that work done. You don’t want to place it in a part of your home where you do other things.
You need to have those lines of distinction so your brain responds appropriately to the different spaces in your home.
It should be very clear where you work, and where you get other things done. Don’t allow your work to creep into other parts of your life or vice-versa.
10. Use A Kanban Board
Finally, you should set attainable goals for your day, your week, and your month. Keep those goals somewhere that you can see them, and refer to them often. Use a Kanban board to help visualize your goals and create something that is pleasing to the eye.
If it helps you, let other people know what your goals are and how you intend to accomplish them. Doing this puts you in the mindset of being performance goal-oriented and getting things accomplished, and that is what separates those who talk about getting work done from those who actually do it. Put yourself in the camp of people who really get things done.
11. Plan Ahead Whenever Possible
Learning how to manage time at home may centre on planning each day to ensure that you have enough time to tackle each task. Follow the outlined steps below to carefully plan your day and improve your time management when working at home:
- Examine what tasks you need to do
- Break them down by urgency and importance
- Handle all essential tasks first, even if they’re not urgent
- Move on to the unimportant tasks, always doing urgent ones first
- Schedule only as much work as you can handle in a workday
How do you know how many tasks you can do in a day? Most people have a pretty good idea based on previous work experiences. However, you must know as precisely as possible how long these steps will take. Doing so can ensure that you don’t make any scheduling mistakes.
Pro Tip: Schedule at least 15-20 minutes more than you think a task will take to give yourself a little buffer time. This helps you in case something unforeseen occurs.
12. Do a Time Audit on Your Tasks
When learning how to manage time at home, it is important to sit down and do a time audit on your work tasks. A time audit includes tracking how much time you take on each task and includes:
- Setting a timer before you start tasks
- Performing each task like normal
- Stopping the timer when you finish
Do your time expectations meet the reality? If not, you may need to adjust your expectations to stay on task. Perform a few audits to make sure that your time understanding is accurate.
Doing a time audit can help you recognize optimization opportunities to improve your efficiency, such as ways you can perform tasks more efficiently.
13. Set Hard Time Limits for Each Task
After doing your time audit, set specific time lengths for each task. Make this time limits hard and binding! For example, if you set yourself one hour in the morning to check emails and prepare your schedule, avoid going over that set limit. If you hit an hour and aren’t done, stop for the moment. The next day, adjust your time limit to meet these realities.
14. Stop Multitasking: Now
The myth of multitasking effectiveness has been effectively busted in recent years. Doing more than one task at a time will only give half-attention to each step you take. Cut the multitasking and focus on single tasks at a time. Doing so improves your attention and work quality. Talk to your coworkers about this approach to see if you can’t get them to start single-tasking. It may help your whole company work more effectively.
15. Use Task-Management Tools
Download task management software that helps you stay focused and effective at work. These include scheduling programs, work alerts, and cloud-based tools that sync your work to multiple devices in your home. Integrate these items into your day-to-day work, update them when your day changes, and try to integrate them with all your coworkers to improve office efficiency.
16. Do the Most Important Tasks First
Your brain is likely at its strongest when you wake up in the morning, after you’ve had your coffee and cupcake. Your mental energy is sharp and ready to tackle the day. As a result, you need to do your most important tasks immediately while you have the mental energy to handle them. Tackle the toughest of these tasks first and move on to the next ones in order of difficulty.
17. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Delegation is not a dirty word or something you should feel uncomfortable doing. Proper delegation can be a powerful way to learn how to manage time at home and ensure that you tackle all your tasks on time. Follow these steps to delegate properly:
- Decide which tasks are things other people can do
- Identify people who you know can do them
- Contact them about doing each task
- Finalize task transfer before moving on to other tasks
You may even find it better to outsource some tasks by finding freelances or other third-party individuals who can help you finish these tasks. Trusting others to handle these steps at first can be hard, but it is rewarding once you have more time to focus on other tasks.
18. Stop Doing “Half-Work” on Your Tasks
Have you ever been in the middle of typing a report but stopped to make a sandwich for lunch? Is it hard to return to the report with the same focus and energy? This focus shift is called “half-work” and must be avoided. See a task all the way through before doing anything else. This approach ensures that you stay on task and minimizes poor work quality.
19. Understand the 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 Rule or Pareto Principle states, “80% of work results come from 20% of the work put into it. In other words, even a small amount of work can be accomplished if you carefully schedule your tasks. Finish tasks that will check off the most work for your day first, then move on to others with less benefit. For example, creating a teamwork schedule accomplishes more than checking your email for the tenth time.
20. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are a common problem in any work environment but can be potent in an at-home work situation. If you’re trying to learn how to manage time at home and keep getting distracted, follow these steps:
- Pay attention to what distracts you throughout the day
- Remove these distractions whenever possible
- Relocate your work office if you continue getting distracted
For instance, if you have a beautiful lake view and you get distracted by watching birds outside your window, you may need to move your office. While frustrating, it may be necessary to stay on task. Visual cues like these can lead to bad habits, such as seeing your TV and deciding to watch it. Recognize and avoid these cues to stay on task.
21. Carefully Plan Your Wake-Up Time
The best thing about working from home is that you can wake up whenever you want and start. Try to find a time that gives you the most productivity. Gauge this by:
- Naturally, waking up when you feel rested
- Deciding if you need to wake up early
- Gauging how well you focus when you wake up
- Adjusting your schedule to meet your needs
This step can be a great option because you might discover you work better at different times. For instance, you may discover that waking up early best works for your work needs.
22. Create “Buffers” Between Specific Work Periods
Set up a few minutes as a buffer between tasks to minimize mental fatigue. For example, a good 25-minute break between specific work meetings and tasks can help you freshen up mentally for the next big task. Follow these steps to create meaningful buffers:
- Gauge how difficult each task is before you start
- Decide how much time you need after specific difficulty levels
- Schedule these breaks right into your day to ensure you feel rested
- Let your coworkers and managers know about these breaks
- Adjust your buffers as needed, depending on your day
Scheduling your tasks right after the other can overwhelm your brain and minimize your effectiveness. Using these simple break periods helps to give your mind the time it needs to recover after a tough work period.
23. Turn Off the TV
We understand that working from home might give you time to catch up on your binging, but watching TV while you work is likely to only distract you. In general, it is best to keep your television or streaming services off for most of the day and get only 1-2 hours of viewing in a day. Any more than that and you might find your work suffers, and you can’t stay focused.
24. Replace Your Bad Habits
Eliminate bad habits like eating poorly, working haphazardly, staying up late, and vying for perfection. Instead, eat a healthy and balanced meal, create a meaningful daily routine, go to bed early, and know when it’s time to put down a task. Perfectionism, in particular, can rob you of hours of work by causing you to tweak something endlessly. Do the work a task needs but know when it’s finished.
25. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Packing your day with dozens of tasks might seem like it would get more done. However, it typically just fatigues you and makes your work more difficult. Instead, slow down and focus on fewer tasks every day. Focus on quality, not quantity, and put the work into each required task. Doing so should ensure you get enough work done daily to stay on task.
These simple tips are a powerful way to take control of your work schedule and get more done at home. Carefully choose which of these tips appeals to you the most before trying them out. Adjust these methods to suit your needs, such as changing your Pomodoro breaks to longer or shorter periods, depending on your tasks and what steps you need to take that day.