More and more people, either through choice or redundancy are starting to work from home. There are a lot of people who are in full time employment who would, given the choice, choose to work from home because they see it as an opportunity to have the freedom to set their own schedules and hours. However, working from home can be a double edged sword, when you work from home it is difficult to stay on task, when there are so many other distractions. Here are some time management strategies to help you stay on task when working from home.
Make a list
First of all, when working from home it is even more important to have a plan for the day than it is when working at the office because it is so easy to get distracted. Make a list of the three or four tasks that ‘come what may’, you have to achieve during your work from home day; this will help to keep you focused. It can also help if you group similar tasks together. As you work from your daily task list, give yourself a sense of accomplishment by crossing off your tasks as you complete each one. Work on one project at time and stick with that project until you are finished. Multi-tasking might seem like a good idea, however jumping between tasks actually increases the time a task takes.
When working from home, It’s very easy to stray from your work tasks, to just quickly check your email or to do some research and find that you are planning next years holidays. Be strict with yourself and set specific time frames as to when you will and will not use your computer to go online. Make it a rule that you will only check your email 2 or 3 times daily and answer your email at the same time. If you do this your time management will be greatly enhanced.
Stay on Track
If you find that time has a tendency to run away with you whilst working from home, consider using a timer to stay on track. Work on a task for twenty minutes then take a five minute break, then work on it again for another twenty minutes, take a five minute break and so on until the task is completed. Take a longer break either when the task is completed or every two hours.
Get into a routine
Allocate yourself so much time to work on quick tasks and stick to that time. Whilst working from home it is vital to have a routine. It will help you with your time management. A routine allows you to do tasks automatically, for instance, checking your email first thing everyday can become routine and help you to get your day started right away.
Let others know you are working from home
Remember that although we know that when we are working from home, we are actually working. Unfortunately some of our friends may not be able to appreciate that we are trying to work. Perhaps they call around for a cup of coffee or phone for a chat. In these circumstances you have to be firm but friendly and make them realise that your work hours are for work. These are time wasters and you have to eliminate them when working from home, or your time management will be impacted, in the same way it would if you worked in an office. If possible have a separate phone line for the business and don’t answer the home phone during your work time.
Finally, it is easy when you work from home to always find something else that needs to be done. You must set time limits for yourself. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to complete all your projects in one day. Make sure your goals are realistic and can be accomplished in the time you have allocated for them, and set a time when the office door will be closed for the day, this will also help you to get the balance right between work and family commitments. Following these time management tips can help you save time as you work from home and make your days a little easier.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner