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7 Time Management Tips for Working from Home [2024]

Time Management Tips For Working From Home

Working from home is a dream come true for many. With a short commute to your home office, an unlimited supply of snacks in your panty, and relaxed work attire, what’s not to love?! But what many people don’t know is the struggles that come with a remote work environment.

When I began working from home, I had a romanticized notion of what my workday would look like. But throw in kids, pets, household chores, neighbors, and a TV and couch that are calling my name, and it can be challenging to actually get work done. 

Today, I’m going to discuss some of the most common pain points that remote workers face and how to solve them so you can actually be productive during your workday. 

Time Management Tips for Working from Home

Here are some time management tips to help you stay productive and maintain a healthy work-life balance

1. Create a routine work schedule

When you work from home, it’s easy to get into the habit of an unstructured schedule, rolling out of bed a few minutes before you have to log in for the day. While remote work offers a lot of flexibility, it’s best to stick to a daily schedule and get ready for the day. 

When you go with the flow and work in your pajamas, your mind still thinks it’s in rest mode, making you feel unmotivated to work. But when you get up at the same time every morning, get dressed, and act like you’re going into an office, your brain switches into work mode, making you more productive. 

Numerous studies have been done on the effects of how one dresses and how well one performs during the workday. Just creating a simple morning routine, where you get dressed and ready for your day, will help improve your productivity. And if you have a big meeting or negotiation to tackle, go the extra step and dress up in professional attire. 

It’s true: when you look good, you feel good. 

Conversely, when it’s time to wrap up your workday, close your office door, get into leisure attire, and transition your brain back into relaxed mode. Having a routine work schedule, combined with effective time management, will help to keep your home and work life in balance.

2. Have a dedicated workspace

Now that we’ve discussed work hours and having a set schedule, it’s time to think about your workspace. If you don’t have a dedicated home office and you’re working at your dining room table, you’ll need a way to keep out auditory distractions. Using noise-cancelling headphones or an app like Brain.FM to block out noise distractions is an easy and affordable way to stay focused on the task at hand. If you have family members at home during the day, establish some ground rules for when interactions can take place. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, my husband and daughter both started working and doing school from home. Because I like to work in the kitchen, I had to change up where I worked so I wasn’t constantly distracted by their activites in the house. We each set up small office spaces in our bedrooms and guest bedroom so that we each had a quiet, dedicated space to get our work done. When a bedroom door was closed, that meant do not distrub. 

By having a set workspace, you can filter out noises and distractions so that you can accomplish more during your day. It’s also nice to be able to close the door at the end of the day and tune out work until the next day, as it’s easy to get into the habit of just checking on one more thing when you work from home. 

3. Use a system

You wouldn’t go on a road trip without mapping your destination out, so why would you start your day without a plan? 

It’s easy to think that you’ll automatically recall everything that you need to do, but life happens. The cat throws up on the carpet, your daughter can’t find her car keys, or the neighbor stops by to ask a question. It’s so easy to get thrown off track and then forget what you need to be doing. 

Using a system, whether it’s a digital time management app, a day planner with a calendar, or time blocking on a spreadsheet, will keep you on track and on top of all of your to-dos. Along with using a system, you should prioritize your to-do list so that you know what must be accomplished and in what order. Being able to visually see what needs to be done keeps tasks fresh in your mind and helps prevent mishaps from happening. 

4. Take regular breaks

Just like your car needs to be regularly refueled (or charged), your mind also needs time to rest and refuel. When you push yourself to work without a break, your brain becomes fatigued, and your focus is not as sharp, and it may take longer to complete tasks. If you continue to work at this pace for longer periods of time, you may start to feel burnt out and stressed.  

Conversely, when you give yourself small breaks throughout your workday, your brain can rest, recharge, and refocus. While stopping your work time to take a break may seem counterintuitive, it actually increases your motivation, creativity, and productivity and decreases decision fatigue, according to Psychology Today

5. Set boundaries

When you work from home, you need to set boundaries for yourself and those around you. Without a solid game plan for handling family members, neighbors, and household chores, you’ll constantly be distracted from accomplishing what you need to do. 

Having a dedicated office space helps tremendously with blocking out pets and family members. But going beyond that and making generalized rules for your workday will be especially helpful. For instance, you may turn notifications off on your phone except when you’re taking breaks or at specific times scheduled for returning phone calls or texts. 

Having a plan and sharing it with those around you will help you stay focused and on track, and it will get others to respect your work time and availability. 

6. Make time for socialization

To be your most productive, you need to feel good emotionally and physically. Part of this is making time for socialization. As a remote worker, you’ll spend a great deal of time alone, and depending on your personality, this may give you a case of the blues. 

Making time for regular social interaction will be important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Try scheduling coffee or lunch dates with friends or coworkers, or join a weekly fitness class. Getting out of the house and out in public might be just what you need to feel reenergized and motivated. If you’re unable to leave home, opt for a virtual coffee date using Zoom or sign up for a virtual networking event. 

7. Block out distractions

One of the biggest distractions when you work from home is technology. With email, social media, text messages, and notifications from coworkers on Slack, the number of digital tools and platforms vying for our attention is staggering. To actually get work done and meet deadlines, you need to have a single focus. To accomplish this, you’ll want to turn off as many notifications as you can. You should also log out of platforms that act as a temptation to steal your time away from your most important tasks and duties. 

Master Time Management to Boost Productivity

There are a variety of apps that you can use for time management to block out certain websites if you cannot avoid using certain platforms. Or, if you prefer not to use a digital solution, you can set a timer for 30-60 minutes, during which you’ll focus on deep work. Once the timer goes off, you can take a break and then peek at the social media sites you like to use. Some popular tools include:

  • FocusMe: FocusMe helps boost productivity by challenging you to focus on a task for a set amount of time and then take a short break
  • Slack: Slack is a team communication platform that allows you to organize team communications in one central space, making it easier to collaborate and find project details.
  • Dropbox or OneDrive: These cloud storage platforms enable you to store, share, and back up files, providing easy access to authorized team members.
  • Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar: These calendar apps help you stay organized by managing your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. Integrating them with Slack can provide automatic alerts and reminders
  • Canva and Lucidchart: These tools are useful for creating designs and diagrams, making it easier to visualize and communicate ideas.

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Holly

Holly Reisem Hanna

Holly Reisem Hanna is the Founder and Publisher of the award-winning career website, The Work at Home Woman, and the Author of Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day: Simple Strategies to Increase Productivity, Enhance Creativity, and Make Your Time Your Own. Since its inception in 2009, The Work at Home Woman has helped millions of readers find legitimate work at home jobs and business ideas. Under Holly's guidance, The Work at Home Woman was named one of the best websites for your career by Forbes two years in a row.

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