Ah, quarantine. It seems like everybody is working from home now. Time to sit back, find a Netflix Original series to binge, and blow through those quarantine snacks just as fast as you bought them. Except no, there's always work to be done! So whether you're a freelance pro, or new to the work-from-home game, I think it's time to review some time management skills. After all, we might be stuck at home, but the work still needs to get done. Here are a few tips to keep on track if you're working at home now (or ever):
1. Keep a Schedule
It's easy to put off work when you're at home. It's even easier if you've been used to having a schedule dictated while at an office outside your home. If that sounds like you, I'd recommend sticking to your prescribed schedule as much as possible while you work from home. If you generally work from 9AM to 5PM, lunch at 1PM, with 15 minute breaks every 2 hours, I suggest keeping to that as best you can. It will be less disruptive to your routine when you go back to the office, and if you're a freelancer, having a set schedule will help you remain focused on work, rather than coffee and a quick Facebook scroll.
And yet, some of us have obligations that eat up our time during business hours. Children, sick relatives, ailing pets, errands-- the list could go on forever. If you have to have a flexible schedule (like me!), then opt to hit a certain number of work hours every week. 40 is a good target, but your work may require a different goal. If you can, try to utilize help from caregivers for children, or organize activities for little ones while you buckle down and work. Just make sure safety of anyone you care for is top priority!
2. Track Your Activity
There are actually some pretty great apps to help you do this. DeskTime, Toggl, and Time Doctor are some popular apps that let you track your time usage. Using these tools allows you to catch yourself spending a little too much time on Youtube, or going over on your scheduled breaks. If you run a flexible schedule, it will help you identify patterns of productivity: that is, it shows you when you tend to do the most and lease work on certain days. Plus, it's really satisfying to see that you've spent your time wisely. The catch? Some of these apps aren't free forever, and if your job involves research or active work on social media, it can be difficult to discern what time was used for work, and what was just goofing around.
3. Prioritize Tasks
You probably do this at least subconsciously, even if you aren't a traditional freelancer. When you're organizing the whole home office, small tasks of smaller significance can start to clutter up your daily schedule. Consider labeling tasks in respect to their urgency. Urgent tasks should be the ones that need to be completed immediately to avoid potential consequences, while low-priority tasks should be small ones that do not need immediate or even same-day attention. You might find that, by the time your inbox is cleared of urgent and important tasks, you'll have time for the smaller things. If you don't however, consider delegating, if possible.
Remember, time management can easily spiral out of control if you don't take care of yourself first. Eat well, get enough sleep, and take care of yourself, even if you're working at home. You'll be much more productive and receptive to the above tips if you do. Good luck, Folks!
*I do not make commissions from any of the products mentioned.