Working from home or working for yourself can be both a blessing and a curse. We have the opportunity to set our own working hours, be comfortable in our own space, and spend time with family. However, it can be difficult to manage time and get everything done when we have more freedom. It takes some discipline, and often some learning.
I’ve found that managing time is one of the most difficult pieces of working from home. With nobody telling me what to do, watching over me, or keeping me on track, I have to learn to be accountable to myself. These are a few methods I use to help myself with time management while working from home for myself.
This is an absolute must for me. In any given day, I have more things to get done than I have time for. I work with clients, market myself to reach more clients, and of course have to handle the normal paying of bills and managing personal things. On top of this, you may have a pet or child to take care of! We have a lot to get done, and just don’t seem to have enough time. This is why setting priorities is important!
I like to separate out what needs to be done today, and what needs to be done soon. I use Google Keep to take notes and love it. I can sync my notes across different devices and take a note on the go from my smartphone. I have two lists that I keep consistently updated: one called “Today,” and one called “To Do.” By putting things on my list to do today, I am setting the intention to really get them done. This way, I don’t overwhelm myself by adding too many things to my list in a day.
Make a Calendar
I find that a simple calendar can help keep me on task. I schedule pretty much everything out that I need to get done, including breaks (more on this in a moment). It can help to feel accountable to something other than just ourselves. I use my calendar on Google Calendar, which again is super easy to use and accessible from different devices. It helps me get my day started, and encourage me to step away from the computer instead of working incessantly.
You can also set up a real paper calendar on your wall or desk. Put the things in there you want to get done, and make yourself accountable. By using a calendar, you can really plan out your days and keep on track.
This is one of the most important pieces I’ve had to learn while working from home. I have the tendency to work all day without taking breaks. I often found myself skipping meals and going hours without moving. Whether or not you’re using a calendar, schedule breaks for yourself and take it seriously. If you eat, eat away from your work space!
I like to make sure to get up and move every hour. Even if it is just for a few minutes, it can help us immensely. If you think you don’t have time to take a break, remember that taking a break actually boosts productivity. You will notice it and feel it. When you take a break, you come back more focused and have more energy throughout the day. It’s a hard thing to do when we have a lot of stuff to be done, but it’s a vital piece of the puzzle that is working for ourselves.
Expecting the Unexpected
No matter how well we manage time or schedule our tasks out for the day, stuff happens. We get a phone call, have a new potential client, or some sort of personal issue to deal with. We can’t control every aspect of our lives, but we can prepare for it! I’ve learned to really expect the unexpected and be ready for my plans to change.
When I make my calendar, I leave a few minutes between tasks. This buffer room allows me to handle the little things that pop up throughout my days. Maybe it’s a bill that needs to be paid, a lead comes in to my business, or I need to step out to handle something. Leaving buffer space helps me get these things done without stressing too much.
We have to try to not beat ourselves up too harshly. We won’t get everything done, we’ll end up working long hours, and we’ll make mistakes. Leave yourself room to grow. You’re a work in progress, as we all are. Be open to learning what works for you. This starts with being open and seeing what is working and what is not. If something isn’t working for you, like the calendar, then stop doing it! If something works well for you, keep doing it until it becomes habit!
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