Balancing your personal needs, obligations, and employment can be challenging when you have just one job, but if you're juggling multiple jobs, you know it can get stressful, fast. That's why it's important to know how to manage your time when you work from home. Non-traditional work environments are becoming more and more the norm as the standard nine-to-five job has become scarcer; people with multiple jobs or who freelance full time, for example, often find themselves getting their work done in a variety of different places: In co-working spaces, at coffee shops, or even on the go. And home? Well, it can be both a convenient and comfortable place to work if your job can be accomplished from literally anywhere.
But when the lines between "going to work" and "being at home" blur as they do when you don't physically go to or leave an office every day, time management becomes even more essential than it already is. In fact, it's a key way to take care of yourself. Sure, it's something we've heard since we were kids: Don't procrastinate! Write down everything you need to do! Don't fall asleep while watching TV and forget all of your homework! And while those reminders felt eye-roll worthy then, they're actually pretty significant skills to carry into adulthood. When it comes to time management, the underlying foundation is to find an organization system that works for you.
Below, I've broken down eight ways you can look at managing and organizing your time when you work from home. It's by no means an all-inclusive list; it might, however, offer you a few places to start. Pick the ones you like; ignore the ones you don't; and start looking elsewhere for other tips to try.
Maintain A Daily Task List
Keeping track of your tasks for each day is a great way to stay organized, whether you use a notebook, an app on your phone, Google Calendar, or sticky on your desk. Breaking down your daily tasks into area can help, too (think Errands, Job 1, Job 2, Phone Calls, etc.). You can even try something like the Ivy Lee method if you like.
Maintain A Monthly Planner
Even if you don't have a lot of changes in your plans day to day, it's important to see how your schedule looks in advance. Do you have anything overlapping? Do you have periods with nothing going on and you want to add in some contract or per diem work? Did you remember to request time off for your birthday? Daily task lists tend not to catch the bigger picture stuff, so planning your month ahead of time is a great way to not let the details pass you by. The Bullet Journal method might useful to try here.
Do Not Compromise Your Work Time For Socializing
If you often work from home or at a cafe, work time can sometimes read as "free" time. But while you might have more flexibility than you might in a job that requires you to be in one location all the time, giving yourself the freedom to go shopping, run unrelated errands, or catch up on sleep while you're supposed to be working is a recipe for disaster. Even if you're convinced you can "make up" for it at another time, don't fall into this time management trap.
That said, though, don't do nothing but work, either. It's true that planning for fun can sometimes make it seem... well, less like fun and more like work; however, if you tell yourself that the time you set aside for fun is meant for you not to work — that is, it's a time where you are absolutely free to ignore anything work-related — there's still room for spontaneous activities within that pre-planned time.
Do Not Compromise Your Work Space For Socializing
While it can be fun to have someone surprise you for your lunch break, it's not something you want to turn into a habit. If you're at a cafe to work, don't encroach on that time by inviting your friends to "chat." If you work from home, make the best of your space and give yourself a work area, even if you don't have a formal office.
And if your friends or family are the ones who won't leave you alone when you're trying to work, then definitely speak up, particularly if you work remotely. Sometimes people who aren't accustomed to working from home assume that those who do have all the time in the world. Make it clear that during your work time, you're "at the office" in the same way they are, even if you're physically somewhere they might frequent during their leisure time.
Step Away From Social Media
Many work environments frown upon using social media on the clock, so no matter what your jobs entail, it's best you maintain a practice of logging out of social media while you're working. Even if you think your job is super casual, or you're literally your own boss, turn off the notifications for the day and see how much more productive you are.
Prioritize Time For Self-Care
Working every waking hour of your day is not sustainable, and nor is it good for your mental or physical health. Scheduling in time for yourself is just as important as scheduling in time to work. Self-care is different for everybody, but it's a good foundation to make sure you consistently pencil in time for sleep, proper hygiene, medical needs, food, and so on.
Schedule Time For Paying Your Bills
Ok, this might sound like it isn't a big deal, but think about the last time you had to pay a late fee. Obnoxious, right? A great way to manage your time is to get related tasks done in bulk. For example, when you pay your rent for the month, send out your other monthly payments on the same afternoon. If you don't have it all in your account at once, still figure out what day each bill is due, the amount, when it will be in your account, and when you can send it off. Getting it all done at once saves you the headache of trying to scramble in the final hour before your cell phone is shut off or your rent incurs a late fee.
Be Firm About Your Availability
It can be tough to say "no" to a boss or coworker, but when you're balancing more than one job, it is so important to be firm about your availability. It's OK to set boundaries and let people know when you are available, and avoid setting a precedent that you can come in at the last minute or cover someone else's shift at the drop of a hat. A pattern like this is a recipe for you running on no sleep and tons of stress.