When someone asks me what the hardest part about working from home is I immediately answer time management. Time management has always been hard for me when I’m not in a structured office setting. For many people, you’ve probably worked outside of your home for years. So your work life and home life were separate. Working at home means you now are integrating those lives and figuring out how to segment your time can be tricky.
When I worked full-time in an office I was great at segmenting my tasks for the day and prioritizing things. I made sure to get the most important stuff done and then move down to the lesser important tasks. But working from home is a totally different animal! Especially when you have kids! You get sidetracked a lot easier because you’re in your home. There’s probably 100 things you could find to do in your house that are not work related; like chores that have been pushed off or organizing that hasn’t been done for months (that’s not just me right??). Or even things that you would rather be doing like playing with your kids, watching TV, taking a nap, or reading a book.
At least this is my reality.
No worries though! We will tackle these time management problems with the following tips!!
Tips For Time Management When You Work At Home
Know Your Goals
First thing, you need to make goals for what you want to accomplish. It’s always good to have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, but you have to figure out what your sweet spot is between setting the goal and having the appropriate amount of time to finish it. I have a part-time job that I do from home along with blogging and weekly goals work best for me.
My goal each week is to complete a certain amount of hours for my part time job. For blogging it’s a little different because I don’t have a set amount of hours that I have to complete, but I do have tasks I need to complete. I could easily fall down the rabbit hole of pushing off these tasks so that’s where the goal setting comes in. On certain days I write content, other days graphics, other days technical stuff, etc.
Although the goals are different because the jobs are different, it’s helpful for me to know what I need to accomplish week by week. Your goals might be daily, weekly, or even monthly for the work you need to accomplish. You have to figure out what the sweet spot is between setting the goal and having enough time, (but not too much time because there’s that rabbit hole of pushing tasks off) to complete the goal.
Decide On A Deadline
When you work from home and you’re either working for yourself or you don’t have a boss that you check in with every day, it’s much easier to forget about the deadlines that you have, push them off, or not set any.
Look, if you don’t set any deadlines you will likely procrastinate and never take action, or do things at the last second. I get it! I’m definitely guilty of this. You must set deadlines in order to be productive.
Part of my downfall is I give myself more time to get things done because there is no pressing deadline that needs to be met. When I worked in an office I knew exactly when I needed to get a task done and it was either coming from my own goals or it was from my boss who needed me to complete something by a deadline.
Give yourself a timeframe for when you need to have a task completed. That way when life inevitably happens and you aren’t able to complete your task you can still finish it in a reasonable time. That’s why weekly goals work well for me. Because if one of my kids gets sick or we have a party we’ll be at most of the day, I still have more days to finish my goal before the end of the week.
Plan Out Your Time Daily
Once you set your goals and decided on a deadline, the next step to managing your time is planning out your time for the day. It can be difficult when you have kids at home to plan out your time, (because we all know kids aren’t predictable), but you still need to do it! So for example, I know that two days a week my kids have activities so I block that time out knowing I will not get any work done.
I plan out the rest of my days of the week when I know I can fit in work. Nap times are a big chunk of time I’m able to buckle down and get work done along with the end of the night when my kids are winding down. Knowing that these two chunks of time are planned out every day, I then try to fit in work throughout the day when I’m able to.
If your kid doesn’t nap anymore (like my daughter who is phasing them out) check out this post where I discuss how to still have time for yourself.
Manage Your Obligations
One of the harder things that you need to do to manage your time (but still critical to ensure productivity) is managing your kids. Kids are notorious for not giving you time and space! So they’ll just ask and ask and ask for your attention and unless you direct them to play independently or give them a task or a chore to complete, they’ll just continue to rely on you to entertain them.
I have to tell my daughter ‘no’ a lot. When she asks me to play with her or read to her I can’t always do it because I have tasks and goals that I needed to accomplish and I have to have her play independently.
I used to feel bad about constantly having to say no but I know that playing independently is huge for developing creativity and imagination in young kids. I also know that working from home is helping me to spend more time with them in the long run and I stopped feeling guilty about it.
That’s not to say that I never play with my kids I definitely make time to sit down and read to them and play with them. I also make sure that during meal times and bath times I’m fully there. I’m not sitting on my phone or thinking about the 50 other things I have to do. I’m engaging with them so although we aren’t playing, it’s still time I’m spending with them. I have noticed too that giving them that one on one time makes it easier for them to go and play by themselves when you need them to.
Make a Sacrifice
Depending on the type of work you do from home you may have to give up things that you enjoy doing. I really enjoyed watching TV at the end of the night. It was my reward for taking care of my kids, the house, and the dog for the entire day and doing it by myself. But once I took on a larger workload I had to sacrifice some of that time to be able to fit in my work.
You may have to do the same thing. You might have to give up TV or maybe you enjoy reading a book at the end of the night and you have to give that up. You may have to give up going out or having friends over. Whatever form of fun or relaxing activities you enjoy may have to be put on the back burner if it’s not productive or helping you work toward your goals.
Now again I still make sure that I get my “me time” because I would absolutely go crazy if I never had some sort of downtime, but again it’s just something you have to be more intentional about. You have to actually plan when you will be able to take those relaxing moments.
Know That It’s A Season
It won’t always be this way but as you transition into working at home you may have to buckle down more in the beginning. By that I mean when you’re first starting out something new, whether it be more of an office type job or a customer service type job from home, you’ll have to learn the duties of the job, your best schedule, etc.
And if you’re doing something like me like blogging, I had to learn the technical aspect. So there’s probably going to be that growing pain with figuring things out when you first start working from home. As you continue to learn your job and implement these tips, it it will probably get easier and quicker for you to complete your tasks. Eventually you will be able to add back more of your fun activities rather than having to work all the time. But just be prepared that you may have to give up a lot of your free time upfront to get things going as you work from home.
Successfully Work From Home
While I did promise to give you tips to successfully work from home, I didn’t promise it would be easy. Working from home isn’t easy. In fact I would say that working from home isn’t for everyone because you have to be really disciplined to be able to make sure your goals and deadlines are met. If you keep pushing things off, they’ll never get done or it will take a really long time for any progress to be made.
But since you’re reading this, I know you have it in you to work from home successfully! Set your goals. Is there a certain number of hours you want to complete? Specific tasks you want finished? Whatever they are set those goals. Then set deadlines for your goals. This gives you the push you need to actually complete your work. Next plan out your time daily so you know for sure when you will be working and when you can fit in your daily obligations and spend time with your kids. Because you know working from home isn’t easy, you will probably have to make sacrifices in the beginning to fit in more time for work.
Remember the reason why you wanted to work from home in the first place and keep that motivation going. You got this!!