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Time management is one of the most problematic areas for those who work at home. It can be challenging to stay on task when so many distractions, including family, friends, and household chores. If you’re struggling to stay focused and productive while working at home, keep reading for these 10 helpful time management hacks.
Time Management Hack #1 – Make a Schedule and Stick to It
If you want to be productive, you need to have a schedule. Decide what hours you’re going to work, and then stick to it — this way, you’ll know that you have a set amount of time to get things done.
Besides, let your family and friends know when you’re working so that they can respect your time and space. If you have kids at home with you, arrange for childcare during your work hours, or ask for help from your partner.
Time Management Hack #2 – Set Time Limits
Once you have a schedule, it’s important to set time limits for each task on your to-do list. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in the details. It can also be helpful to gauge the approximate time the task should take to complete.
For instance, if you’re working on a writing project, give yourself two hours to write and then take a break. Or, if you’re working on a design project, give yourself an hour to work and then take a five-minute break, or, try the next hack to break up work time into 25-minute chunks, called pomodoros.
Time Management Hack #3 – Practice the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method used for any task. Essentially, you work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. After four Pomodoros, you take a more extended break (15-20 minutes).
This technique is helpful because it allows you to work in short bursts, which can help you stay focused. Plus, the frequent breaks prevent you from getting burnt out.
If you find it difficult to stick to the Pomodoro Technique, some apps can help, such as the web app PomoFocus or mobile app, Focus To-Do. Or you can go old-school and use a kitchen timer. Either way, setting a timer will help you stay on track.
Time Management Hack #4 – Eliminate Distractions
When you’re trying to focus, any little thing can be a distraction. So, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. If you’re working on a computer, close all of the tabs you’re not using. If you’re working on a phone, put it on silent.
And, if you can, work in a space where you won’t be interrupted. (If you have young kids at home, this hack can be tricky). You don’t have to have a whole home office — even a quiet corner in your living room or bedroom will do. Let your family know that you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. If you have kids at home, make sure they know not to disturb you unless it’s urgent.
Time Management Hack #5 – Invest in a Good Pair of Headphones
If you find it difficult to focus with background noise, invest in a good pair of headphones. Even if you don’t listen to music while you work, the headphones will signal to others that you’re not to be disturbed. (These Bose QuietComfort headphones are amazing and worth every penny, I use them daily.)
Time Management Hack #6 – Avoid Multi-Tasking
It’s common to try and multitask when you’re working at home. Whether it’s trying to work on two different projects simultaneously or trying to work and take care of the kids, multi-tasking can prove more detrimental to your productivity than you might think.
When you try to focus on two things at once, your brain isn’t able to give either task its full attention. As a result, you might find that it takes you longer to complete both tasks — and they might not be done as well as they could be.
So, instead of trying to multitask, focus on just one task at a time. When you focus on just one thing, it makes you far more productive. Similarly, grouping similar tasks together can help you complete them much more quickly.
Time Management Hack # 7 Set Realistic Deadlines for Yourself
Nobody likes deadlines, but sometimes they’re necessary to get things done. If you find yourself procrastinating on a project, try setting a deadline for yourself and making it realistic.
A realistic deadline will work like an adrenaline shot and help you focus on getting the task done. Remember, the goal is to get it done — not perfectly. So, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Just get it done and move on to the next task. You’ll have time to go back and revise it later.
Time Management Hack #8 – Use a To-Do List
A to-do list can help you keep track, stay focused, and be organized. Every day, make a list of the tasks you need to complete. As you complete each task, cross it off your list. This will help you to see your progress and avoid forgetting anything.
And, if you find that you’re constantly adding to your to-do list without ever finishing anything, try the Ivy Lee Method. This method involves writing down six things that you need to do tomorrow and then ranking them in order of importance. Then, start with the most important task and work your way down the list. The goal is to finish all six tasks without moving on to the next one until the first is complete.
Time Management Hack #9 – Break Down Large Tasks Into Smaller Ones
An enormous task can seem daunting and overwhelming. But, if you break it down into smaller tasks, it will seem much more manageable, and you’ll be able to focus on just one small thing at a time instead of the entire project.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog post. The large task would be to write the blog post from start to finish. But, the smaller tasks would be to come up with a topic, do some research, write an outline, then write a draft, edit the draft, and publish it. We use Coschedule for all our project management, social media scheduling, and blog publishing.
By breaking down a large task into smaller tasks, you can focus on just one thing at a time and avoid getting overwhelmed.
Time Management Hack #10 – Take Advantage of Productivity Tools
Many productivity tools are available online, and they can be a huge help when you’re working at home. For example, some tools can block websites, so you’re not tempted to waste time surfing the internet. Or tools to help you stay on task by timing your work sessions and break times. Some tools can help you be more organized, such as a project management tool or a task manager.
Depending on what you need, there are several different productivity tools available. Do some research to find the ones that will work best for you.
The Bottom Line
There are many different time management hacks that you can use when working at home. Don’t be afraid to try out other things to see what works best for you. And, remember, the goal is to find what works for you and be as productive as possible.
So, there you have it — time management hacks that will help you when you work at home. Use these tips to increase your productivity and get more done in less time.