According to statistics from LinkedIn, 82 percent of professionals would like to work from home one day a week or more, with 57 percent wanting to work from home three or more days.
COVID-19 has normalized remote work, and for many, it is more efficient. But there are some challenges that come with working remotely, not the least of which is time management.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your time when working from home:
Set Virtual Boundaries Between Work and Home
When working remotely, have a workspace away from the distractions of the rest of your home. Make sure you have everything you need to work within reach and good internet connectivity.
Try to stick to a set schedule. Allow for exceptions, of course, but try to guard against working around the clock.
If possible, install Slack, Zoom, or whatever collaboration software your company uses, on your mobile phone. That way, even at the doctor’s office, you can respond to important messages, still be engaged, and get work done.
Turn off text messaging and personal email alerts while working remotely. They can distract you when working, and you want to make sure you stick with the schedule you set from beginning to end. Even if you only glance at these mini-interruptions or just delete spam emails as they come through, that time adds up. Before you know it, you may have wasted an hour.
When it comes to personal issues at home, spend your time and attention wisely. Focus on the big picture first, and you can worry about the details as time permits.
Of course, get your work done completely and on time.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
When you take a remote work job, you should adjust your expectations of yourself, your family, and the people you work with.
Your workday won’t look the same as it does in an office setting. Don’t necessarily expect lots of feedback, the way a boss might be able to provide onsite. If you self-evaluate, you won’t have to spend time waiting for feedback.
Make sure you get enough sleep and eat right, and plan meal times so they don’t become another distraction.
Do larger tasks first unless you feel like you need a break to avoid burnout, in which case do small or easier tasks first or take a break before you dive into work. Do as much prep work as you can before you start a project. That way when you actually do it, things will go more efficiently. Avoid the trap of trying to multitask, and don’t procrastinate. Reach out for assistance as needed. You still have supervisors and colleagues as resources to offer guidance and advice even if you work remotely.
Learn patience, too. What seems like an emergency project may turn out to be something that can wait.
Embrace interruptions. Sometimes they’re just what you need to give yourself a mental time out.
Above all, always be mindful, relax and laugh often. Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
Allow Yourself Flexibility
Use your own to-do lists or organizational tools that work for you in addition to whatever workflow software your company uses. Set project goals for yourself, and be prepared for the interruptions and realities of life, which will be a lot closer to you when you work remotely.
Don’t bug your supervisors, but let them know if you’re swamped, and ask for extensions as needed.
When stressful projects are postponed or a personal emergency is settled, take the time to relish in the relief. Don’t just move on to the next thing. Internalize it and let it help you enjoy working remotely from a deep place. Time management should automatically become easier.
When you tackle a project at home, break large tasks down into small chunks (this is advice for any project).
Do each portion, and when you’ve finished a few, or feel yourself losing steam, give yourself a break.
When you’re ready to work again, move on to the next portion. Before you know it, you’ll be done.
Working from home can be great. But you need strong time management skills. Try to recreate the structure that comes with working onsite by limiting distractions and setting boundaries. Take care of your mental health and use whatever resources you have available to make your workload manageable.
Above all, enjoy the freedom and perks of working remotely, and consider these tips so you can manage your time successfully.
Author: Brad Wayland
Brad is a business consultant and the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.