Doing proper time management when working from home can be quite a challenge, especially if you’ve never done it before. You will easily find yourself distracted by all the things going on and you won’t be able to focus on your work and be productive.
The pandemic happened, and ever since then, more people have started working from home, and while this has plenty of advantages it also has a few drawbacks, and we have a hard time staying productive.
In this article, you will find 10 tips for time management when working from home that you can implement straight away to improve your life and work balance.
10 Tips for time management working from home:
1. Create to-do lists
One of the most important things that you can do in terms of time management working from home, is to create daily or weekly to-do lists.
It’s hard staying concentrated all the time, especially when we work from home, with so many distractions going on. Sometimes you might find that you have lost track and don’t know what you were working on anymore or what needs to be done.
So by creating to-do lists, you will always know what needs to be worked on and how it’s progressing.
I create my to-do lists every Sunday and plan out the whole week with things that need to be done in general, and then every night I create a to-do list for the next day with specific tasks and jobs at hand.
Also, don’t forget to put groceries, and breaks, and everything else on your list, because it will help you keep track of how much time each task will take to accomplish.
2. Stay organized
This goes hand in hand with the to-do lists, you want to stay organized as much as possible. This means that every invoice, email, business call, feedback, etc needs to be properly stored and easy for you to access what you need without too much hassle.
Staying organized might be an issue even when working in an office, but staying organized and doing time management working from home can be even more difficult.
I use Google Drive and Evernote, to have quick access to all my important files, invoices, and to-do lists, on all my devices.
You can use whatever app or tool that you feel comfortable with, those two are the ones that work for me, so find something that works for you.
3. Use productivity apps
To make time management working from home a much easier process, you can install some productivity apps that can help you achieve that.
For example, I like to use the Pomodoro technique when working on my to-do lists, combined with time blocking.
Ok, I know that might sound like total gibberish to you, but let me explain a bit:
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique based on the old kitchen timer (that was most of the time shaped like a tomato, hence the name). It basically means that you set up your work in intervals that are usually 25 minutes and then have a break for 5 minutes.
So I schedule everything on my to-do list after the Pomodoro technique and work on everything for 25 minutes at a time, then take a short break of 5 minutes and either continue doing another Pomodoro (another 25 minutes of work + 5 minutes of break), on the same thing or just move on to the next item on my list.
I combine the Pomodoro technique with another time management “tool” called time blocking.
Time blocking is when you put everything on your to-do list to be done during certain hours, for example,
- 06:00 – 06:30 – Shower and breakfast
- 06:30 – 07:00 – Answering emails while sipping on coffee
- 07:00 – 09:00 – Work on my most important task of the day
So to make time management working from home more efficient, I combine all these methods and use some apps to help me along the way.
4. Schedule in some breaks
As you have probably read above, since I use the Pomodoro technique for time management working from home, I always have 5 minutes of break for every 25 minutes worked, so that means that I work for 50 minutes and then chill for 10 minutes, and all my work hours are like that.
You don’t necessarily have to use the Pomodoro thing, but you will need to schedule some breaks throughout the day, to give yourself some space to breathe and relax for a bit.
Often times, especially when working from home, you really get caught up in the work, and you can sit at your desk for hours. Your brain can only focus for about 90 minutes at a time, and then it needs some time to recover like 20-30 minutes.
So if you want your work not to suck and be more productive, give yourself some breaks, it will make your work from home that much better.
5. Stop multi-tasking
Often times, it’s easy to start multi-tasking when working from home. So try and focus your attention only on one thing, and after you finish with that you can move on to the next item on your to-do list.
Multi-tasking will kill your productivity. So it’s best to avoid doing it.
Like I said above, your brain will need some time to “boot up” and to “relax”, so if you multitask a lot, keep in mind that the brain will need about 15 minutes or so to completely focus on the thing that you just switched on to.
So going back and forth between 2 tasks is not ideal.
6. Block out distractions
This one is easier said than done, but you should try as much as possible to not have any distractions while you’re working from home.
If you have children, let them know that you’re working and you’re not to be disturbed during certain times. If you have pets, put them in another room, close your TV, and let your friends and family know that you need to work and you will talk with them when you’re done.
Sure it might sound too drastic but, it’s really easy to lose focus of your work when the cat comes and lays on your keyboard, or when kids are playing in the room, or when you have the TV on (unless the TV noise helps you focus more).
In the case that you hear loud noise going on, music, or construction work, it would be a good idea to invest in some noise-canceling headphones, to try and create a quiet place when it’s time to work.
Yes, good noise-canceling headphones are a bit expensive (most of the good ones are at least $150), but they will help you a lot if you have problems with noise and you can’t stay focused while working from home.
7. Stay away from the web
Speaking of distractions and not losing focus. Don’t browse the web for non-work related stuff, if you want to stay productive while working from home.
It’s easy to get caught up for a good half an hour or more on Facebook, Twitter, or Whatsapp, especially when there’s no one around to catch you slacking.
So it’s best to avoid any sites or apps that are not related to your work, in order to keep your time management under control.
If you really have a hard time with this and you find yourself surfing the web no matter how hard you try not to, try to disconnect the internet (if you don’t need it for some parts of your work, for example when writing an article or designing something).
8. Find out your productive hours
Find out the hours of the day that you’re most productive, and schedule your whole to-do list or work around those hours. For example my most productive hours are the first 2 to 3 hours after I wake up.
So I make sure to always work on the hardest and most important thing of the day during those first hours.
Not to long ago, my best productive hours were between 2 AM and 5 AM (yes, even before the pandemic happened and working from home becoming the norm), nowadays it’s more like 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM.
But you might find out that your best working hours are late in the afternoon or in the evenings, so try and see how much time you spend on tasks, and figure out at what hours you do your best work at, then schedule your entire working hours accordingly.
9. Have a separate workspace
If it’s possible and you have additional space in your house, you should try and create a separate space just for working.
So to boost your productivity and time management working from home, even more, don’t work where you sleep, or where you relax.
This means that your workspace should ideally be somewhere other than the bedroom. You definitely don’t want to work from bed, this will make it even worse to concentrate properly on your tasks.
So try and find a table or a desk somewhere that you can work from, such as the kitchen, or the patio.
10. Set some boundaries
A recent study done by Microsoft found out that employees now work for 4 more hours per week. That’s because it’s easy to get caught up in your work when there are no other people around you or lights going off at the end of your schedule.
So oftentimes we stay up late to finish that task even though we should have left it for tomorrow from a few hours ago.
So when you’re done with your work schedule for the day, turn your devices and notifications off, and start relaxing. I’ve been working at home for the past 13 years now, and it’s a pain sometimes to manage time correctly.
I’ve had days where I’ve worked for 16 hours straight and even more sometimes, granted I work for myself so in the end, it wasn’t that bad, but still, that’s not healthy.
Working from home with your partner that also works from home can be also pretty hard to manage, especially if you have kids.
So it’s best to set up calendars and work schedules for both of you and sync up when it’s time to work and when it’s time to chill or switch between someone working and the other watching the children.
If you attend meetings regularly try and do it from somewhere private also, so if you’re working in the same room as your partner, you could either ask them to leave for a bit, or you can go ahead and take the meeting somewhere else.
Time management working from home, final thoughts:
Most people will think that working from home is an easy thing to do, but in reality, it can be quite a challenge.
However, there are also a few ways to make life easier, especially during this period. Through proper time management, working from home becomes much more bearable, and you can become more productive and focus more on the things that need your attention the most.
Which of these solutions work for you? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.