When I look back at 2014, the first words that come to mind are ‘Time Management’. Seriously, it was hard. But, somehow I managed to process and ship 790 Etsy orders, design and style my first wedding event ( that only took me 6 months!) and I was still able to take care of my home and my family. I am not saying it was all perfect, but hey, we survived!
Working from home has been a true blessing, but the downside has been, learning to draw the lines between housework/family time/personal time and real work time.
I can be sitting in my office designing a party package, crave another cup of coffee – of course – and next thing you know I am unloading the dishwasher and switching laundry. Not good. Darn Keurig for brewing a cup of coffee in 1 minute!
I have learned the hard way but I have gradually developed a system that has helped me a lot along the way. Here are my top 5 time management tips when working from home:
1. Your Work from Home is a Real Job.
You may wonder how working in your pajamas could possibly affect your precious time. Well, I tried to work in my pajamas a couple of times and I just couldn’t do it. I felt lethargic and unenergetic. Nothing good can be accomplished when feeling uneasy, and that lack of mental rest translates into not getting much – if anything – done, which means time wasted.
Take a shower and get dressed before sitting in your home office, even if I you don’t have to leave the house that morning or that day at all. You will feel refreshed and energized, and if you do have to go somewhere, you are all ready to go. Give your work and yourself the treatment and status that you both deserve.
2. Make a To-Do List and Prioritize
The famous To-Do List. It is the most simple, yet the most powerful tool in time management. Always keep a notepad handy and each day write down all the things you wish to accomplish that day. A productivity app works well too. Whatever method you decide to use, make sure to prioritize.
Be realistic and write down only the things you can fit in a day’s work. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a long To-Do list of things that you possibly won’t be able to complete in one day. Sometimes is better to have a short list of important and urgent things to do that can be checked off at the end of the day, than a long list of things that could wait a little while, maybe a couple of days or so. Nothing is more disappointing than having a long to-do list with very few check marks. As you learn how to manage your time you will be able to fit more things in your list.
3. Outsmart your Smart Phone
Smartphones are possibly the best invention yet. I can’t live without mine. However, sometimes they can work against you when they should be working with you. A few tips and tricks to help you manage your time while still using your smart phone throughout the day:
- Use productivity apps, they are great tools to help you keep track of finances, make to-do lists.
- Sign off of social media. If your work from home doesn’t need you to be signed in all the time, do yourself a big favor and sign out of Facebook or Instagram. Notifications are a big distraction. Yes, you can turn them off but, you will think twice on clicking that icon if you know you have to sign in again. Trust me on this one!
- Whenever possible, use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. Depending on your smartphone model and make, it could be a built-in feature in settings, or an app.
- Use the Reminders app. Not to be confused with the calendar app, the Reminder’s app is the easiest way to add, well, reminders. You can choose when and where to be reminded of something. Using a voice assistant app such as Siri on an iPhone, makes the task easier.
4. Designate a Day or a Time of the Day for Specific Tasks
I mentioned how making a cup of coffee sidetracked me one morning and I ended up unloading the dishwasher leaving my party package preparation halfway through. I have learned to stop this habit by designating a day or a time for different tasks. Now I unload the dishwasher early in the morning while I am preparing my son’s lunch box or later in the afternoon right before I am ready to prepare dinner.
My 8:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. window is prime time! I try to fit as much work as possible in that period before my son comes back from school and all the interruptions begin.
- Some tasks that should be done on a designated day: paying bills, grocery shopping, shipping packages, housework and laundry, etc.
- Some tasks that should be done on a designated time of the day: making or receiving phone calls, checking emails, helping kids with homework, checking social media updates, unloading the dishwasher 😉 , etc.
When you choose a time and a day to perform determined tasks, you stop multitasking and learn to manage your time better. This takes me to my last time management tip:
5. Multitasking is for Computers
Confession time: I despise the word Multitasking. But I will use it here in order to make my point clear. If you have been criticized for not being a ‘multitasker’, you are not alone. Been there.
For years, while working for corporate offices, me and my team of colleagues were constantly asked by our boss to multitask. I can only remember being interrupted several times to make phone calls, pull and print out reports, being called for a last-minute meeting or even being asked to leave the office to visit a client. It was the most frustrating time of my professional life. I felt that I was being slowed down by hundreds of requests at the same time and the quality of my work wasn’t up to my standards. I like to give 100% to my work and multitasking was stopping me from doing so.
It has been proven that switching back and forth between tasks is not only unproductive but inadequate for the human brain. Only computers can multitask. Multitasking is ineffective for humans. Author Dave Crenshaw, wrote a book named ‘ The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done ‘, my latest addition to my library.
Set your mind in one and only one thing. Your train of thought will stay aligned and not having to switch thoughts, working tools or even places will save you plenty of time and the quality of your work will improve.
Your Turn! What are your time management tips while working from home?
Have a productive day!