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Tips For Effective Time Management When Working From Home

Updated on April 5, 2012
Time files so make sure you manage it effectively
Time files so make sure you manage it effectively | Source

Managing your time effectively is a very important skill when working in the office. But when you are working at home, with its varied distractions, entertainment and comforts, and without a boss looking over your shoulder, effective time management becomes even more important if you are going to get anything done at all.

The following tips should give you a heads up in the perpetual fight to get more things done in less time.

Have A Fixed Time For Important Tasks

Schedule a fixed time of the day for your most important tasks and make sure that you are at your most effective at that time. If you are a night person and is not fully awake until the sun is high up in the sky, don't schedule the morning for your important tasks but the afternoon instead.

Try not to take any phone calls or make any appointments during the time that you have allocated. Also, let your your clients, business associates or friends know that you are performing tasks vital to your business during this time so that will know to leave you alone.

Set Time Frames For Tasks

A friend told me about the time when she moved into a rental apartment with just 2 suitcases. One year later, when she had to move out, she had to rent a truck to move all her stuff. It is a well known law of nature...sorta...that things will expand to fill the space available for it.

Similarly, the time you take to complete a task will be about the same as the time available for the task. In other words, if you have 3 hours for a task that would normally take an hour to complete, I can practically guarantee you that you are going to take much more than an hour to complete the task.

So, set a time frame for each task that you want to complete. Make sure that it's reasonable and don't be too hard on yourself if sometimes you fail to finish the task within the deadline. But don't make it a habit.

Eliminate Distractions

That means no Oprah, no household chores and no chatting on MSN. Eliminate any time wasters on your desk, in your drawers and on the shelves around you. Have only the things you need for work. In case you are wondering, time wasters would include photo albums, Game Boys and novels. And don't forget to cleanup your computer of distractions as well.

Prioritize Your Tasks

At the start of each day, spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day to list down the tasks that you plan for the day. Arrange in the order of most important to least important. Start on the most important task first and finish it before continuing with the next. This way, even if you can't complete all your tasks, you would at least have the most important done.

Remember, this is meant to save you time. There's no need to be really precise as to which task is more important than the other. If you can't decide, just pick one or toss a coin. You get only a few minutes to do this and don't take more than that as quicksand sometimes does. (See comment below)

Create Work Hours

Although you are working at home without a boss looking over your shoulder, that does not mean that you can work as and when you feel like it. The good thing about working from home is that you can take a day off when you need to, and you can organize your workday around your other schedules when necessary.

But generally, it is best to have a fixed time each day during which you work. During your working hours, you should only do work related things and nothing else. If there are kids in the house, try to make them understand that you are not to be disturbed during your working hours. Or, better yet, see if you can schedule your working hours when they are not in the house.

Track How You Spend Your Time

At the end of the day, you and your work or business is unique. And so is the way that you spend your time. Ultimately, the best person to figure out how to maximize your time is yourself. So make an effort to keep track of the way that you spend your time. Get a diary and note down how you spend each hour of your working day.

After a week or so, look through the entries for ways that you can maximize your time. In particular, look out for tasks that you spend much more time than you should.


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    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Seakay, you are already half way home if you have no distractions and are disciplined. Hope your new direction turns out well. :)

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 7 years ago from Florida

      Great ideas as I am looking to stay home to work. Some think it's easy to work at home. That's true if you have no distractions during the day and you are disciplined! Good, informative Hub! Tx.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      HI Barbara, office hours are definitely essential to maximizing your work time. Working from home means that your time is flexible, but you still need to put in the hours. :)

    • Barbara Tako profile image

      Barbara Tako 7 years ago from Minneapolis/St. Paul

      Helpful ideas! As a WAHM, I really need to try to set some "office" hours for myself. Thank you.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Benson and Tony, for your kind remarks. :)

      Leandraluv - and that includes your sms, your phone, your email, facebook, etc. It's a wonder we get any work done these days. :(

      Teresa - 5 min reading your email, another 5 min on the phone, and another 5 min watching that entertaining video on youtube,... and the day is done. I know, I have been there. I totally agree with you in that we really need to do this or our lives will be spent wasting time. :(

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent Hub, thanks so much for the effort you put into it.

      Love and peace


    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      We really need to do this. Time swift so fastly and we do not even notice how the day went. Thank you for sharing. More power.

    • Leandraluv profile image

      Leandraluv 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great hub! Now I need to go eliminate my distractions, including my computer distractions, sign off from MSN - you're right - this is a big distraction! Thanks for sharing.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      great post. thanks for sharing.

    • peggypat profile image

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great hub!!! And so needed for me. I just started doing hubs and find myself completely obsessed with them to the exclusion of everything.. I was just wondering today how to get this work at home thing under control. I have another career as well and because I tend toward workaholism I needed to read some of your tips to bring me back down to earth!

      Thank you!

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 8 years ago from Singapore

      You end up wasting time trying to save time. :) Made a small change in my hub to reflect what you said.


    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      In my case, prioritizing tasks is the most difficult of all tasks. I remember having wasted many hours trying to figure out what to do first ... and believe me, I still do!

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 8 years ago from Singapore

      You and me both. I will say that I will do a simple 5 minute task in the afternoon. When afternoon comes, I'd probably get lazy and decide to do it in the night. And so it goes on. There are times in which it might be one whole week before I get around to doing that simple 5-minute task. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      Good pointers for people who work at home. I know I tend to dawdle (especially if there's no dateline) sometimes, whenever--maybe, that's why I choose to work at home. Disciple is a good word to remember in this whole time management juggle. Thanks for sharing.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 8 years ago from Singapore

      I totally agree. Been working from home practically all my life, so I know about all the distractions. :)

    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      You hit the nail on the head. It's so easy to get lost in Non Money Making distractions when your only accountable to yourself. Until you get this time management under control, you'll have a tough time getting a business on track.