7 Time Management Tips to Optimise Your Work from Home
Over the past year, the way we work has seen significant change. Many office workers and other professions have been thrown into working from home on and off, with some adapting to a new hybrid role of working both from home and in the office. While working from home may be a new normal for us, things like procrastination, poor time management and lack of motivation also start to creep in, as we don’t have the hustle and bustle of the office or the comradery of our employees to help us stay on task.
In this blog, we’ll look at some time management tips that you can implement when working from home to keep you productive and on-task.
1. Start your day on a productive note
Primary School Teacher Melanie* says ‘the key for me is to start the morning in a productive way. If I roll out of bed and keep the bottom half of my pj’s on, then I am less motivated and less likely to be efficient.’ Starting your day out on a productive note means you’re more likely to work efficiently during the day. It probably comes as no surprise but a productivity study showed that people who ‘hit the snooze button’ in the morning were more likely to report greater levels of stress.
2. Set up your workspace
This may seem like a given but setting up an adequate workspace at home plays a huge role when it comes to time management. If your workspace is in a shared room with lots of distractions, your working efficiency is likely to be impacted. Set up a space in a quiet area – preferably somewhere with a door and a place away from children or other members of the house who may be working from home. Have everything neat and organised so you don’t spend time looking for items that you know you need – everything should have a place!
3. Take a look at some apps and tools
In today’s world, there’s an app for just about everything – including time management! For workers who have their phone close by, utilising time management apps can help with productivity and keep you on task. There are so many organisational programs out there that we’ve created a list of our favourites to help you out:
Many of these organisational and time management apps are also available as smartphone apps meaning you can access them wherever you are.
4. Schedule strategic breaks
Taking breaks is important and when working from home, as everything might feel like it blurs into one long day. When you’re at work, you probably take some smaller breaks to make a morning coffee, chat with a co-worker or move from one meeting to the next. At home, we take the occasional bathroom break but otherwise, all our meetings are online meaning that there’s basically no reason to get up and move around. Making sure that your day mimics as closely to normal office life as possible is important to keep you motivated. Schedule breaks into your day as you would with any other task – even the smaller breaks. Set an alarm for every hour to get up and stretch for a couple of minutes, or even do a couple of laps of the house or the letterbox. Sitting in the same position for too long isn’t helping your posture!
5. Eliminate all distractions
Whether it’s your phone, the tv, or even your kids, eliminating distractions is important for time management. Getting rid of potential distractions before they become distractions will help you throughout the day. For example, if you often remember to put the washing on at morning tea, try doing a load the night before or before you start work, so you don’t get distracted putting the machine on when you’re doing a task. Similarly, if you know that you’re likely to get distracted with having the tv on or your phone close by, take some steps to eliminate this distraction.
6. Plan out your day in detail
Making lists and writing a schedule is important for time management when working from home, so we asked Speech Pathologist Natalie* what scheduling tips she likes to use. ‘I like colour coding things for different types of activities’ she says. ‘This helps me to break up my day so that I’m not doing the same type of work back-to-back, such as reports, which helps me stay motivated.’ Whether your preferred scheduling tool is handwritten or typed, planning your day will help you stay on task – especially if you create an hour-by-hour schedule so you know exactly how long things will take.
7. Set yourself boundaries
Working from home has changed the way we work, as well as blurring the lines between home life and work life. Where we once could switch off once we walked through the door at home, now we don’t have that luxury which may leave our minds in a state of unease. Set your end-of-day time and make a conscious effort to switch from work to home. Your clothes can have a huge impact on tricking your mind into the difference between work and home. Change out of your pyjamas to ‘work clothes’ in the morning and once you’ve finished for the day, change back into casual clothes so that your brain knows that PJs are for sleeping and relaxing – not work as well! Other boundaries to set can include things like switching your work email notifications to ‘do not disturb’ overnight and shutting down your computer so you aren’t tempted to quickly jump back on.
Working from home is certainly a challenge that the world has had to adapt to and face. Although it can be tricky, there are some time management tips you can adopt to ensure you are being as productive as you were in the office at home.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.