February is National Time Management Month, so our monthly blog series will be all about – you guessed it correctly – time management. Or more specifically, effective time management.
"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." (William Penn)
Managing time effectively is a challenge for most, if not all, people. Though it’s not because of a lack of trying. Planners, calendars, to-do lists – these are all tools people use to try and manage their time better and get things done.
Working from home has many advantages, but if you think that it’s easier than working in the office, then you’re wrong. Home office can potentially be even more stressful, as you have to be much more disciplined and have to stick to your plans much more strictly. Many will now protest that doing home office means more flexibility in your schedule. That is true, you can decide when you want to do your work, but you will need to adhere to it or things will get out of hand quickly.
Here are 5 time management tips for more efficiency in the home office:
1. “Do not disturb!”
The first thing you need to do, if you want to work productively at home, is to carve out your own workspace and set boundaries with your family. Working in the living room with “Let it go” blaring nonstop in the background will definitely not help you get things done. Make it clear that during “work hours” there should be no disturbances or distractions. If they need something from you, they should wait until your break.
2. Stick to your schedule!
Working from home is great because you can decide when to start working. You can get your children ready for school and take them there without time pressure. But remember that even at home, or especially at home, you will need a schedule. If you have planned to create a budget plan from 1 pm to 3 pm, then you should really focus on doing that task during that time.
Just like at the office, things will often not go according to plan, which is why you should include buffer times in your plan for unforeseen events so that you stay within your schedule.
3. Stop working!
The biggest problem with working from home is not that people don’t get things done, it’s actually that they aren’t able to let go. When we go to work, we can ‘clock out’ and the work day is over, but working from home can tempt you to work longer than you would in the office. It’s the typical situation, you just want to do one more thing, just really quickly, and then you look at the clock - and it’s 11pm. Part of effective time management is to include breaks and knowing when to stop for the day. At some point the quality of your work will suffer if you just keep on working.
4. Clean up your work space!
3 coffee cups, a plate with toast, 10 different piles of lose paper – does that sound familiar? If so, get organized ASAP! Even if there’s a system to your chaos, you will work much more efficiently if it’s all sorted and organized. A minute searching here, a minute looking there – it all can add up to a lot of minutes lost due to inefficient working.
5. Use project management tools!
You might be wondering if you really need a project management tool when you’re just working on your own at home. In general, using the right tool can only enhance your productivity and efficiency.
When you’re working from home, it’s very important to track your personal working hours. InLoox PM, for example, has a time tracker with which you can easily track your working time which will make it easier for you to answer to your supervisors or clients.
The most used tools of a PM software are the task and schedule planner. Yes, you could plan your tasks with a normal calendar for smaller projects, but the bigger and more complex the project the more important will it be to keep an overview. The advantages of a task planner within a PM tool is that it can show you dependencies and even the critical path.