8 Tips for Managing Your Time While Working from Home
Working from home during Covid means a blurring (or elimination) of the lines between office, home, and kids’ schoolwork. Time management was challenging enough during normal times, though with working remotely, it can be tougher without the boundaries going to an office provide.
Here are 8 tips to effectively manage working from home
1: Create a schedule
If you and your partner are both working from home, create daily and weekly schedules in advance for who will be working where and when, and who will be in charge of childcare activities. Writing it down makes it easier for everyone to follow. There are many shared apps like Google Calendar, though writing it down on a piece of paper and hanging it on the fridge will do too.
Some jobs and companies are OK with a flexible work schedule, as long as productivity doesn’t suffer. Instead of a traditional 9-5 schedule, some firms allow people to block windows of time throughout the day to accomplish their work tasks. This is especially helpful if you have to drop off/pick up kids during the day and supervise homework. Some people are effective working in early morning hours, or later in the evening when it’s less hectic to make up the time when kids need attention. In this type of arrangement, it’s important to have clearly defined productivity expectations and not to feel like you need to work all night to justify the 2-hour break in the middle of the day.
2: Designate Spaces
Create specific places to work, and only use them for that purpose if possible. For example, the space you set up in the guest room as an office is only an office (unless you need it for a guest). By designating a space to focus on working in, it will help create boundaries and allow you to focus in a similar way commuting into an office gives you mental time to focus on your way there in the am, and to decompress on your way home. Depending on how much space you have this can be difficult. Try to be consistent about separating where your work life, and your personal life exist.
3: Dress for work
Resist the temptation to live in sweats. Having a routine will help get you focused for work. Getting up at the same time, sticking to your exercise routine (whether it’s before or after work), showering and dressing the way you would normally to go to the office will all keep you focused. When you’re focused and have a set schedule, it helps manage your time.
4: Schedule breaks
It’s important to take breaks as you normally would in the office, though when you’re home it’s easy to lose track of time. Schedule breaks on your calendar like you would any other meeting, and then stick to them. Even if it’s just a 15-minute break to stand up and stretch. Scheduling it on your calendar creates a block so colleagues know you’re busy. A quick break allows you to return to your tasks refreshed and productive.
5: Try productivity apps
There’s a wide variety of free apps designed to help people manage their time. They can help manage whole projects, or simply help you stick to a schedule by giving alerts when it’s time to switch tasks. Tasks in outlooks can accomplish this, or you can download a number of different apps to assist you. Whatever system you choose, make sure you stick to it and resist the urge (or feeling of obligation) to work all night and skip family time.
6: Communicate honestly with your manager and team
With kids at home, a 9-5 workday may not be realistic. You may need to pick up or drop off kids at specific times. You may notice that you are more productive working earlier in the am (when you were previously commuting) or possibly even before people are awake. Maybe you’re more productive after dinner, or if you have young kids, once they go to sleep. Whatever approach best accomplishes your daily work tasks, discuss them with your manager. It’s best if everyone on the team is on the same page about availability and productivity expectations.
7: Don’t let social media distract you
Unless you work in Digital Marketing, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by social media. Log out of those accounts while you’re working to reduce the temptation. When you are on social media, if it seems like friends or colleagues have everything more organized and figured out, they don’t. Give yourself a break, we’re all doing the best we can in the midst of a pandemic.
8: Create boundaries
When commuting means walking from your bedroom to the next room (or across the same room), it can be a challenge to know when to end your day. Set a reminder so you know when it’s time to shut down. Turn your computer off and store it so you’re not tempted to jump back in for one more work email. Though you may be living in your office, don’t allow yourself to live at work.