Time management Monday: Working from home

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Working from home is more and more common these days, whether it’s every day or occasionally. It’s extremely convenient not to have to commute, but there are things to keep in mind when you are working from home.

It’s important to protect your billable time. When you don’t have the time and space designation of working outside your home, it’s all too easy for other needs to chip away at your work time.

It’s easy to feel unproductive when you stand up from your computer and notice the dishes heaped in the sink and piles of laundry, but you can’t let household chores encroach on your work hours. Here’s how to stay focused and feel productive when working from home.

Personality issues: I love working from home. It suits my personality and lifestyle completely. But if you are very extroverted and need lots of human interaction, working from home might make you feel cagey and unfocused. Be sure to seek out others to meet up with regularly, or make a trip into the office occasionally to stay in touch.

Family issues: Not everyone realizes that when you work from home, you are working just like if you were working in an office. If your mom calls and wants you to come over and help, you’ll have to explain to her (again) that you’ll need to do it outside of your work hours. Also, if you have small children who need attention/ snacks/ disputes resolved every 5 minutes, you’ll never get any work done while they are around. It’s too much to expect small children to entertain themselves while you crank away on work. You’ll need to invest in childcare just like you would if you were working outside your home.

Time management: I use time blocking and find it extremely helpful because I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be working on at that moment. It gives me permission to ignore household chores during that time, because I’m doing my billable work.

Task management: Use categorized lists for work, household chores, and errands/ out of the house to allow you to focus on only the tasks you need to see in context. Don’t write a master list of everything you need to do. You don’t want to look at “rake leaves” while you are trying to focus on billable work.

Ideas capture: Carry a notebook with you everywhere, or dictate into your phone (and remember to check it later). Working from home means there’s less separation between roles and can make you feel like you are wearing all of your “hats” at once. Capture ideas as they occur, so when you are back in the appropriate context you can carry them out. For example, I get my best ideas when I’m out walking my dog. When I jot those ideas down at the moment, I can work on them later.

What are your tips for productively working from home?


One thought on “Time management Monday: Working from home

  1. Separate workspace is vital. Being able to slide the door shut when I’m done or have company over is a sanity saver.

    You haven’t lived until some professional mommy turns her little darling loose before you can grab them to bang on your keyboard, thus deleting days of work, followed by the little demon, er, precious fleeing across stacks of carefully collated presentations neatly arranged in piles along the escape route. Let’s not get into the resulting tantrum and flailing feet smashing the tray out of the brand new printer and kicking over the expensive monitor. Mommy isn’t on my guest list anymore. Especially as she was offended with being presented a sizable bill for her little perfection’s damages. Home offices are not playgrounds and parents who let toddlers bang on expensive equipment are simply encouraging disaster.

    Use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone if you don’t have to be available every minute. Otherwise every robo-caller in 3 countries will disturb you (especially annoying as my Apple systems allow my phone to ring on every computer in the house). Expect to constantly retrain people around you from elderly neighbors who just KNOW you’re dying to have company and don’t comprehend getting paid for anything done at home, to “friends” who can’t grasp that writing without an immediate corporate paycheck to show for it is REAL work and requires blocks of uninterrupted time.

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