For some, the idea of working from home is a dream—no commute and no drop-in meetings—but in the midst of mandatory work-from-home policies, many of us are now realizing that working from a home office presents its own set of challenges. It can be difficult to manage time and to limit distractions. Check out our best tips for staying focused and managing your time effectively.
1. Designate a Work Space
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. Creating a specific space meant just for working can help recreate a physical separation from work and home when you’re accustomed to commuting to an office. The space should be as comfortable and distraction-free as possible. If you’re limited on space, even designating a work corner instead of an entire room, can be beneficial.
2. Create a Routine
Routines are important when working at an office, but they are even more vital when working from home. Just as you separate your physical workspace, setting clear working hours is critical to setting boundaries. Maybe your day begins with a quick workout and breakfast or meditation and journaling. Either way, starting and ending work at the same time every day can prevent you from overextending and burning yourself out.
3. Set Reminders
Being outside an office setting away from your team members can sometimes make it difficult to remember important meetings or deadlines. Setting notifications, alarms, or reminders on your phone or calendar app can help you remember due dates and conference calls. For a good rule of thumb, set reminders for 10 minutes before a meeting or the day before an important task is due. This will help you manage your time and ensure you’re not signing onto that client video call 5 minutes late.
4. Plan Your Assignments in a Planner and To-Do List
Spending time figuring out what you’ll be working on today can take away from actually doing those things. Set an agenda that outlines every assignment for the workday the evening before. Using a planner and a to-do list in tandem will give the best control over your time. Use the planner to plan a week at a time and then use your to-do list to manage your everyday priorities. Take it one step further by using Sarasa Clip Gel Retractable Pens to color-code your planner and make it easier to manage your tasks. They come in 37 different colors with three different ink finishes: shiny, metallic, and milky. For an everyday pen, try the G-350 Retractable Gel Pen. It is equipped with a comfort grip, is smudge- and smear-proof, and is available in three fashion barrel colors.
5. Block Out Time in Your Calendar
Time management easier when you block out sections on your calendar for certain tasks you anticipate working on each day. Designating time for these tasks can be as simple as putting aside the first and last hour of the day for emails or phone calls. This allows you to prioritize more important tasks during the day, and saving email and phone correspondence for another part of the workday.
6. Take Clear Breaks
It can be easy to get so distracted as a telecommuter that you avoid taking breaks during the workday altogether. Try to take at least a half hour for lunch and 5-minute breaks throughout the day to rest and refocus. While it can be tempting to open up YouTube or scroll through social media during your break, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside, add an entry into a gratitude journal, or call a friend to catch up.
Implementing these professional tips—even one at a time—can help make your working from home experience more enjoyable and productive. Take the time to create work-life balance and make use of the time you’d otherwise spend commuting to the office.