Has your work life and personal life gone topsy-turvy due to poor time management in the current work from the home setup?
If yes, we understand.
Time management is a challenge in normal times. It has become an even bigger challenge in these strange, uncertain times, triggered by the pandemic.
Sharing workspace with your family members, tolerating children’s tantrums, and cooperating with your significant other while meeting work commitments at the same time can drive you bonkers. It can take a toll on your physical and mental health, leading to lost productivity and poor performance.
As this difficult time seems to continue with no end in sight, you can’t wait for things to get alright magically.
It’s about time you worked on time management and established distinct boundaries between your work and personal life.
This blog unravels proven time management working from home tips to help you stay productive and sane during these testing times.
Top Time Management Tips When Working From Home
Contrary to the common belief that productivity levels rise while working remotely, the truth is poor time management and daily distractions decrease productivity levels in work from home set up.
According to Statista, at-home distractions, collaboration, isolation, and motivation are some of the major challenges of working remotely.
Think carefully, and you will realize that the root cause of all these challenges is time management. When work time is not managed properly, it can blur the lines between your work and personal life and increase burnout, resulting in low productivity.
Since the work from home setup will continue till - God knows when - you can’t wait, watch, and let things be. It’s time to take some action.
These time management tips for working from home will set you up for success.
1. Have a Routine & Stick to It
You wake up at 7 in the morning and finish work by 7 in the evening on some days. On other days, you follow a night routine - start at 7 in the evening and work till 4 in the morning.
Work from home offers you the flexibility to work anytime, and from anywhere you want. But does that mean you should spoil your routine and, by that extension, your productivity, and health?
Even when working remotely, you need to set a routine and follow it religiously, barring a few days when an emergency strikes. A proper routine infuses discipline in your work and personal life and helps you make time for things other than work.
Ensure that the daily schedule you set for yourself accommodates all major things - exercise, work, evening walk, etc. Try and test the routine. There is a high possibility that some routines just don’t work for you. Find out what’s best for you as well as your family, and accordingly, create a routine that you can realistically follow.
It will lead to effective time management when working from home, making your work and personal life much more manageable
Read More: What is Project Time Management?
2. Plan & Prioritize
You might have heard of the popular adage - “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is so true when it comes to working from home.
Work from home can be extremely easy or very challenging, depending on how good you are at planning and prioritizing your work. You will have hundreds of tasks, and each one will feel important, but are they really important? When you have ten different tasks for the day, how to create a plan that helps you achieve them on time?
It is not rocket science. When you start the day, create a to-do list depending on the importance of tasks and their urgency level. Consult with your colleagues, juniors, or your manager about the timelines of each task.
Accordingly, plan your day, set the priority for each task, and get started. This will control chaos and infuse clarity in your work life.
A great way to plan and prioritize your work is by using online project management software. For example, ProProfs Project allows you to plan and allocate tasks and subtasks, prioritize work, set due dates, and track progress - all on a single dashboard.
Your efforts, combined with an awesome project management tool, is an excellent way to manage your time, boost productivity, and meet deadlines.
Read More: A Step By Step Guide To Project Planning
3. Be Strategic With Your Breaks
Employees, especially those at the higher management, feel that working for long hours at a stretch can be a productivity-booster and performance-enhancer.
But, reality reveals a different story.
Research shows that staying laser-focused on work for an hour and then taking a short break keeps up the productivity levels. This helps you dive back into work with renewed energy and vigor.
So, taking mini-breaks can prevent burnout, keeping you more focused on your work. This doesn’t mean you stretch the break for a long time. That can be counterproductive.
You have to be strategic when it comes to taking breaks.
Schedule your breaks by marking them on your calendar on your laptop or mobile device. Use your breaks to gain back the energy. Indulge in activities such as listening to music, playing with your kids, mediating, or anything that relaxes your mind.
4. Manage & Monitor Your Energy
Knowing yourself is the key to effective time management while working from home.
Look inside yourself and identify your internal rhythm. Find the time when you are most energetic and focused. Is it during the wee hours of morning or late at night when there is pin drop silence, with everyone asleep?
Now, align this energy with the important tasks and projects you have. Create a schedule that is in sync with your energy, so that no distractions can sway you from giving your best at work.
Since remote working gives you the flexibility to work at your convenience, you can easily structure your work and bring it in sync with your energy levels. This will help you manage your time and attain maximum productivity at work.
For example, if you feel tired at noon and productive in the morning, a wiser way to complete important tasks would be to schedule them in the morning when you are fresh and brimming with energy.
5. Find Your Productive Corner
One of the major reasons productivity plummets during work from home is the lack of dedicated workspace.
No, you don’t need to have an office at your home. But, you need to create a dedicated workspace or find a spot in your house where you can be at your productive best. If you work, eat, and sleep in the same place, your mind will not be able to set boundaries between your work and personal life.
Now that you know that the work from home environment is going to continue till things go back to normal, it is crucial to create a dedicated workspace in your house. The moment you enter this space, your mind naturally switches to work mode, and you don’t have to force yourself to work.
Ensure that this space is quiet, with the least distractions, so that you can fully focus on work and know when to unwind.
6. Distance Yourself From Distractions
Remote work can be full of distractions, given the fact that you are 24x7 surrounded by your family. Another reason is you know that no one’s watching you. This naturally increases your inclination to check social media, personal emails, and Whatsapp messages while working.
Productivity declines, and work hours increase.
An ideal way to keep the distractions at bay is to reduce your social media usage. Deliberately try to stay away from your phone for two hours at a stretch. Use it for five to ten minutes after the two-hour work stretch.
Log out from your social media accounts and turn off the notifications. This will keep your phone from buzzing all the time.
No buzz = reduced contact with the phone = increased focus on work.
7. Unplugging is Essential
Your daily commuting has reduced to a bare minimum - just a few steps to reach your kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Such a privilege, right?
This privilege can ruin your work-life balance.
Work from home urges you to work a little more and complete the tasks at hand. When you are in the office, you have no choice but to leave work at a specific time, so you can reach home on time.
But, this isn’t the case while working remotely.
You tend to check your emails even after you have logged out, and if something urgent comes up, you are naturally triggered to open your laptop and get it done.
Unplugging from work is a real challenge while working remotely.
You really need to reduce the temptation to check your emails and attend to all tasks in a day. Accept the fact that you cannot do everything in a single day. Know when to shut down your screens and turn off the work mode. Disable the notifications of your work emails and group hangout when you are done for the day.
If you won’t set the right boundaries and respect them, no one else will.
8. Get a Project Management Tool
You can judiciously manage your work time and make the most of it, if you have the support of a powerful project management tool.
Regardless of the number of projects you are working on, you can manage and execute them smoothly with a decent tool. It allows you to plan your work, assign tasks to your team, stay updated with work developments, collaborate in real-time, and meet your deadlines.
You can set due dates and track task and project progress - all from a single shared space.
This simple system of managing and executing projects can work wonders for you. It helps you manage your work hours meticulously, focus on important and urgent tasks, and never miss a project or task deadline.
Read More: List of 20 Best Project Management Software
Boost Work From Home Productivity With Effective Time Management
Multiple things scream for your attention when working from home, pushing you into the destructive habit of working longer hours to fulfill work commitments. This can lead to reduced productivity, increased burnout, and decreased morale.
Something as simple as time management can pull you out of this vicious cycle.
To manage your time effectively and make the most of it, start by creating a routine. Once you have a routine, be consistent with it. Plan, prioritize, and narrow your focus to important tasks. Take short breaks every one or one and a half hours, and work again with double the energy.
Manage your energy levels throughout the day and do most of the work when you are most energized and positive. Checking your social media usage is also essential. Keep it to a minimum during work hours so that you can fully focus on work.
Adopt a project management tool like ProProfs Project and follow the above mentioned time management strategies for working from home to make remote working a success.
Q. How do you structure your day working from home?
A sudden shift to work from home can be challenging. The secret to productive work from home lies in structuring your day and making the most of your time. Create a to-do list at the start of the day, take short and strategic breaks, do not clock in more hours than required, and most importantly, stay organized. These tips will help you structure your day and give your best, even when you are working from home.
Q. What are the 4 Ds of time management?
The 4 Ds of time management is - Do, Delay, Delegate, and Delete. These Ds help you decide your priorities and focus on tasks that are most important at the moment. For example, the 'Do' list can have tasks that are important and can be achieved during work hours. The category 'Delay' can include tasks that do not need immediate attention. This segregation of tasks helps you manage your limited time effectively.
Q. How can I improve my time management skills?
Managing your time well is an art. To make the most of your work hours, start by organizing your work for the day. Focus on tasks that need to be completed right away and schedule others for a later date.
Multitasking might seem magical, but it can make you less productive. Instead, do one thing at a time and then take up the other. This will help you complete tasks quickly and deliver better quality.
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