Effective time management is essential when you work from home. Otherwise, distractions will gobble-up your productive time. Laundry and vacuuming, neighbors popping in to chat, or responding to tons of e-mails, can cause you to miss an important deadline. Here are techniques to keep you on task when you work from home.
Dedicated Home Office
When you work from home, it’s important to separate professional space from personal space. A spare room with a door you can close during office hours is ideal. Otherwise, find a quiet niche that is not located amid mainstream traffic.
Since you do not have to commute, the separate home office is a good tool to transition from home to work and vice versa.
Coordinate Office Hours with Your Circadian Clock
Flexibility is a big benefit when you work from home. You don’t have to punch a time clock at 8:00 a.m. Instead, you can set your work hours according to your circadian clock. Our inner circadian clocks control our alertness during each 24-hour period.
If you’re a morning person, consider starting work early, around 6:00 a.m. Evening people are more focused and energetic from about 3:00 p.m., just when morning people are beginning to slump. Working when you are the most energetic is efficient time management.
When you Work, Work
Working hours are for work. Because you work from home, others think you are available for volunteer work or an afternoon movie. Not so!
Don’t do anything during your work at home hours that you wouldn’t do while working in an office. This includes taking on too much work in order to please a client. Practice saying “no” to projects that would overwhelm you with extra work.
Take Scheduled Breaks
It’s not realistic to work eight hours without a break. Build break time into your schedule and take it. If you work through lunch, chances are, you won’t have a productive afternoon.
Make your Must-do List the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing before quitting for the day. Experts say it’s reasonable to complete “one big thing, three medium things, and five small things” in a day. This is called the 1-3-5 Rule.
If you make a big dent in the big thing or complete a medium thing before lunch, your mood will be lighter the 2nd half of your workday. Train yourself to do one thing at a time. Multitasking is no longer considered a good trait.
The human brain has cognitive limits. When you try to accomplish several things simultaneously, your brain tries to toggle between tasks, and you don’t do anything effectively.
“Chunking” is a time management tool where you divide large tasks into smaller segments or chunks. Break a big job into steps that can usually be accomplished in about 30 uninterrupted minutes. Then, take it one step at a time, rather than focusing on the big picture.
Short breaks are encouraged between chunks. While you may not complete an entire big thing in one day, you can make satisfactory progress.
By following our effective time management tips, you will have made great strides toward becoming more productive with your home business.