Many of us have been working from home consistently since March. Your company may have even decided to make remote work a semi-permanent part of your work experience. If so, you’re probably dealing with some time management issues. Time management is vital for any employee, whether you work from home or not. Today, we wanted to share some time management tips for remote workers so you can accomplish your goals, even during this challenging time.
1. Invest In A Timer
You may be saying, “I already have a timer!” and shutting us down before we even start, but hear us out, physical timers make a huge difference.
Your phone has a fantastic timer, but it’s also a significant distraction. When you go to set a timer, you’ll probably check your texts, see what everyone’s talking about on Instagram Stories, and do a little online shopping. One check to set a timer can open the floodgates of distraction.
If you have a physical timer, you can set it for a specific time, without all the distractions. Timers can be relatively inexpensive, too, which makes them the perfect addition to your work desk. Set a timer, work diligently, rinse, and repeat.
2. Write Out Realistic To-Do Lists
Have you ever sat down to write a to-do list that kept going like the Energizer Bunny? That’s not appropriate for a to-do list, especially when you are working from home. Distractions are even more prevalent when you are a remote worker, so you have to be careful about creating an unrealistic schedule for yourself.
- Put 3-5 items on your to-do list every day.
- Prioritize those items based on your needs.
- Denote stretch goals, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your to-do list.
3. Get Dressed For Work In The Morning
If you’ve been chilling in sweats for months, you might want to get dressed for work. How does this make it on a list of time management tips for remote workers? Simple: getting dressed makes you feel good, and when you feel good about yourself, you do incredible work.
You don’t have to be formal, but putting a bit of extra effort into what you wear will reflect what you do that day. Plus, rolling out of bed and into work doesn’t give your brain time to adjust to what’s happening around you.
4. Use Parkinson’s Law During Meetings And Work Activities
If you’ve never heard of Parkinson’s Law, it’s a simple one:
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Whether you are hosting a meeting or performing your regular work duties, you have to be careful about giving yourself too much time to complete tasks. If you do, the activity will expand to take up the entire time you give yourself. For example, if you give yourself five hours to make sales calls, the action will stretch out for that whole time.
Be clear about what you need to get done, and the time it takes to accomplish those goals.
5. Give Everything Your Undivided Attention
Lack of focus creates issues at work. When you are in a meeting, but your attention is focused on the code you need to review or the blog you need to write, you can’t focus on the meeting.
We can’t stop our minds from wandering. The real goal behind meditation is not to stop your mind from focusing on other tasks. Instead, the purpose of meditation is to teach you how to reel your mind back in after it starts to drift. You have to consider that when your mind wanders at work. How can you get back to the conversation or task at hand?
Focus on being in the moment with the task or meeting in front of you. Block out everything else, and give things your undivided attention.
6. Block Out Optimum Time In Your Calendar For Work
One of the most crucial time management tips for remote workers is blocking out optimum time in your calendar. When is the last time you blocked out the most productive times in your schedule? Many of us take what we can get when it comes to our calendar. We let everyone else take the time that makes sense for them, and then we take the leftover scraps of our calendar and hope we can focus. Don’t do that.
Instead, block out optimum times in your calendar for focused work. If you are a morning person, try to take more meetings in the afternoon. If you are an afternoon person, tell others to schedule meetings with you in the morning. Don’t hesitate to let others know about your work preferences. If you don’t, you’ll always be working around other people, and your calendar will be full of times that don’t work for you.
7. Stop Task Switching
Task switching is the enemy of productivity. If you’re like most people, you probably have a variety of tasks you are responsible for each day. The disjointed nature of your job may make it challenging for you to focus on any one task. You may feel the need to hop from responsibility to responsibility. Do you know what comes from this? An ineffective work schedule.
There’s a better way to do your job: task batching. Task batching requires you to group like tasks together, so you don’t have a million plates spinning at once. Put blocks of time in your calendar to handle the various aspects of your work life.
For example, as a marketer, your schedule might look like this:
- Schedule out social content for the week every Monday morning.
- Write emails every Tuesday afternoon.
- Send marketing updates to the company every Wednesday morning.
- Work on your quarterly project every Thursday afternoon.
- Write blog content every Friday morning.
You’ll likely have open spots that don’t have a task category. Those spots are probably taken up by meetings, random projects assigned to you throughout the week, and task overflow. Having your basic weekly tasks input into your calendar will help you tremendously.
8. Come Prepared For Every Meeting
Meetings are expensive. There’s no time for wasting time when it comes to holding them. If you aren’t prepared for meetings, they’ll quickly become time wasters. Instead, you need to be ready for meetings.
- Read any agenda that comes with a meeting.
- If you are having a one-on-one meeting, ensure that you ask for clarification about what will be covered so you can come prepared.
- Know what you want to come from each meeting you set up, and ensure that you get that by the end of the meeting.
9. Turn Off Phone Notifications
Phones can be a welcome distraction, but if you are looking for time management tips for remote workers, you should be aware that phones aren’t great for productivity. Like we talked about in the timer tip, phones are filled with things that can distract you. Any app can send you a notification whenever the developer wants it to.
Instead of being held up by these distractions, turn off the source of them: notifications. Put your phone on do not disturb during work hours. If you are afraid you’ll miss an urgent call, you can set your phone to ring if you get back to back calls or if it’s a number in your contacts list.
10. Use Focus Music
There are a variety of ways to induce focus in your life. One way is through the use of focus or ambient music. Ambient music should be designed to become background noise to your work efforts—sites like Brain.FM have developed their music to ease into the background so you can focus on what matters most: getting work done.
Try to remove as many external distractions as you can, and layer that effort with focus music and a methodical to-do list. You’ll be getting things done in no time!
11. Start Your Day With A Morning Routine
How do you tell your body that it’s time to start working? Most people thrive with consistent morning routines once they start implementing them. Figure out which steps help you start your day feeling the more refreshed, focused, or whatever you want to feel when you come into work. Write down that routine and follow it every day.
WorkBright Software Architect, Dan Sharp, stated, “My favorite way to stay productive while working from home is to keep a consistent morning rhythm that includes a 2-mile walk and some time for silent meditation. It kick-starts my morning in a positive way and gets me ready for the day.”
12. Let Others Know When You Have A Hard Stop
Meetings need to be reeled in, but they don’t always go as planned. If you know that you are meeting with someone you love to chat with, let them know about your hard stop or deadline. Whether you have another meeting or a task you need to get done, you can call a hard stop on a meeting. Some people only call for a hard stop when they have a meeting with another person, but your time to get work done is just as important.
13. Take Regular Breaks
When you work in the office, you naturally take breaks. You might go see what a colleague is doing, stop by the office kitchen for a snack, or walk around the office to get the circulation back in your body. For some reason, breaks are harder to take when you work from home.
How do you make these breaks count when you are working from home?
- Step away from the computer and all the tasks on it.
- Go outside for some fresh air.
- Cook a nice lunch or get started on dinner.
- Turn off your notifications while you are on longer breaks.
- Take consistent breaks throughout the day.
14. Keep Your Team Informed Of Your Workload
When your entire team is working from home, it can be challenging to keep up with everyone. If you don’t let your team know what’s happening, they can’t help you out. If you let your team know what’s bogging you down, they can help you pick up the slack. Allowing your team in takes trust, but everyone on your team has the same goal: pushing the company you work for forward.
WorkBright Customer Success Representative Sara Meier stated, “One lesson that I’m continuing to learn from my amazing team is the lesson to lean on each other and ask for help when I need it. Thanks to the support of my team, I’ve become better at asking for help and delegating tasks when I feel like my workload is becoming too much. This has been an important lesson for me both in my professional and personal life.”
15. Use A Site Blocker
Sometimes sites like Facebook and Twitter are too good to pass up. If you are having a hard time blocking sites yourself, it may be time to use a site blocker. Site blockers can block out all the sites that distract you. Most site blockers block you from several distracting sites to start. Then you can also block sites that are only distracting to you so you can tailor the usefulness of the site blocker.
16. Don’t Start Small Tasks You Can’t Finish
Here’s a quick time management tip for remote workers: don’t start small tasks you can’t finish. Have you ever opened an email, replied in your head, but didn’t get back to the sender? These small tasks, such as checking an email but not responding, take up a lot of energy and time. If you can’t reply to the email, check the copy a teammate sends you, or schedule the call–don’t start the task. Wait until you have more energy and space to handle all the small tasks that need to be finished.
17. Journal And Brainstorm Regularly
Staring at a blank screen sucks. Journaling and brainstorming helps you tap into your creativity and produce more, whether you are writing sales emails or reaching out to a customer. Our brain isn’t supposed to remember everything. It leaves out a ton of information.
Our brain is continually dumping information it deems unimportant to make room for other details. Unfortunately, you aren’t always privy to what your mind considers trivial.
If our brains aren’t supposed to remember everything, and you don’t write down thoughts as they appear, you can lose valuable information. Keep a notepad or your phone’s note section handy throughout the day to journal and brainstorm as you come up with ideas. Don’t let this action take over your day, but don’t be afraid to lean into your creativity and write things down, so you don’t forget.
18. Step Away From The Computer
While your computer is the epicenter of your remote work tasks, it doesn’t have to be the only way you do work. If you can, find a way to step away from the computer. Are there any tasks you can do with a pen and a notebook. Can you spend some time away from the computer while taking a call? Find those pockets of time away from the computer to reduce things like eye strain. If you are used to working in the office, you probably got at least a few hours away from the computer during team meetings, so why not find that time when you work from home?
19. Create Focus Projects At Work
Work is full of distractions. Depending on your job, you might have dozens of tasks you need to get done every week. This can be distracting if you aren’t careful. If your team isn’t clear about your responsibilities, you can also be carried in a million directions. Be clear on your job description and what you want to accomplish every week. Create focus projects for the quarter so you can achieve more high-level tasks, instead of getting caught in the weeds of day-to-day business.
20. Stop Guilting Yourself For Time Management Mishaps
Guilt is a powerful emotion that takes up a lot of mental energy. There are always things we could have or should have done better, but you cannot change the past. All you can do is look to the future and ensure that you take better steps after a time management mishap. Instead of feeling guilty or worrying about something you did wrong, use that mental energy to propel yourself forward.
Conclusion: Time Management Tips For Remote Workers
Work is complicated. Today we covered 20 time management tips for remote workers that we believe will help you get more done each day. Take a few minutes to consider how you can use these tips in your daily life? Which tips will you implement first?