Ahhhh, working from home. As a telecommuter, you can say goodbye to the office life (and a lengthy commute, stiff work suits, expensive lunches, and a boss breathing down your neck) and hello to the flexibility that comes with working from home. But sometimes all that freedom can cause you to lose focus—and time. Stay on task—and on time—with these six time management tips for telecommuters.
Make a list.
Sure, you’re glued to your smartphone, but there’s something to be said for an actual piece of paper and pen. So instead of making a note on your phone, make a physical list of the daily to-do’s and keep it where you’ll see it on your desk. Nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing items off your list as you complete the tasks.
When you worked in a regular office, you couldn’t go on Facebook. Now that you’re working from home, you’re clicking and commenting on your friends’ photos 24/7. But all of that social media comes at a price in the form of decreased productivity. Since studies have shown time and time again that employees who telecommute experience a surge in productivity; it’s crucial for you to work during your home office hours and stick to social media on your breaks.
Stay on schedule…with your boss.
One of the great things about working remotely is that you can work for any company, anywhere in the world. It can become tricky, though, if you’re in Seattle—and your boss is in Spain. To stay in sync with your boss (both literally and figuratively), try to find some overlap to be working when your boss is working too. That way, you can be available should she have any questions, and you’re less likely to miss out on urgent emails or emergency meetings. You’ll avoid having to wait too long for answers or clarifications and will work more closely with your boss.
Don’t overdo it.
Let’s say that you’re burning the midnight oil trying to get a project done—and it’s 2:00 am. Telecommuters have a tendency to overwork themselves in an effort to get it all done, and really, you don’t need to. While it’s important to meet all of your deadlines, producing quality work is much more important than the amount of work you get done. And if you feel that your boss is sending you too much to do, you should communicate this to him. Remind him of how much you’re already doing; after all, he may not even realize how much he’s assigning to you.
You started your workday at 8:30 am sharp. It’s now 2:15 pm—and you haven’t even gotten up once from your desk. Working from home can often mean that you lose track of time and can easily forget to take a break. That’s why it’s necessary to fit in some fitness during your day. So set a timer to go off every ½ hour or so, just so you can get up and stretch your legs. And while you’re at it, try to take a walk around your neighborhood or run some errands on your lunch break.
Prioritize your workload.
Maybe you’re a morning person, feeling the most energized during the early hours. Or perhaps you’re a night owl, and like to get most of your work done while others are snoozing. Determine when you are at your best, and then schedule your workload accordingly by assigning yourself the harder tasks for those times. Working with your internal body clock can help you to avoid wasting time by optimizing your energy and focus to complete your work successfully—and fast.
Time management can trip up any worker, but even more so for those who can set their own schedule. The tips above will help you maximize your workday so that you can truly get to enjoy work-life balance.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com