The number of people who work from home at least one day per week is on the rise. Telecommuting rose 73 percent between 2005 and 2011, despite the workforce only growing 4.3 percent. Working from home provides convenience and savings to both employees and employers, and is especially attractive to people who are self-employed.
If you are transitioning to a home office, you may find more difficulty in staying focused and getting your work done than you anticipated. It takes a little while to adjust to your new surroundings and set yourself up for maximum success. Keep these suggestions in mind as you learn to best manage your time in an at-home work setting so you can enjoy the benefits of telecommuting while staying true to your work ethic:
- Set a schedule. In some work-at-home instances, your schedule is set for you. For people who are self-employed or work a more flexible schedule, carving out time specifically for work is a necessity. You do not have to work the same hours every day or week, but decide at the beginning of your week how many hours you will need to complete your work tasks. Then look at the rest of the items on your schedule and find the best time to devote to work, and stick to it. Write down or print out your schedule and show it to your spouse and other family members.
- Minimize distractions. When domestic duties and work responsibilities blend, it is easy to see how working at home can be incredibly distracting. In reality, office settings can be just as distracting and lead to a drop in productivity too when you take into account things like colleague socialization. Make a point to minimize all work distractions by identifying and avoiding them. For example, if you find yourself staring out your front window when you work at your dining room table, move to a room of the house with less visual stimulation. Shut off televisions and radios, and put your cell phone out of reach when you are busy with work tasks.
- Limit email access. If possible, do not leave your email open around the clock. Take 10 minutes every three hours, for example, to check your messages and respond. If you have a job where you truly need to be in your email all the time, set strong junk mail settings and avoid using your work email to sign up for personal items, like company newsletters or discount clubs. Excess emails will distract you from work. Even a few seconds spent opening, reading and deleting an email adds up when you look at an entire workday.
- Heighten accountability. When you set business goals, share them with colleagues, friends and family. By letting other people know what you hope to accomplish in the coming weeks and months, you give them the opportunity to support you, help you and challenge you to succeed.
What has worked for you when it comes to time management in a home office?