Work at Home + Time Management = A Tricky Balance
Time management is a beast of its own when we work at home, especially when kids are around. Our best-laid plans can be derailed in an instant. You discover your deep freeze went out (yep, that was my recent detour), someone wakes up with the flu, or your best client needs an urgent project by tomorrow. (Or all of the above!)
Life happens, and we can either stress out or learn to roll with it the best we can.
Often the reality of working at home, especially with young kids, is that we may only be able to grab 10-20 minute snippets of work time here and there.
My secret to time management and getting more done:
HAVE MY CATEGORIZED TO-DO LIST READY.
We’re talking game changer right here, my friends. This is how I fight the beast to be more productive.
The key is in the word “categorized.” That’s what sets this time management list apart from your regular to-dos. On mine I have a section for Computer, Call, Go, and Do. These are written in my notebook, but I made a printable download just for my readers (you’ll find the link below).
Your list may have different headings based on your situation (Work, Home, School, Volunteer, etc.) but the idea is the same. You have the list ready so that when your time pocket opens up, you can glance at the list and get right to work instead of floundering around wondering where to start. Or getting sidetracked with other things…
- At 7am I may think of someone I need to call today, but the office is closed until 9:00. So it goes on my Call list. Then while the kids are occupied later, I go down the list and make those calls.
- There may be several important projects I need to work on for clients. Those go on the Computer list. When the kids are at school or playing outside, I go straight to the list and get started. This keeps me [in theory] from wasting time. Without the list, I’ll sit there trying to remember what I need to do, surf the net, or chase squirrels; then the kids come in and I realize my work window just vanished.
- The Computer list is also good to keep track of things I need to order online, emails to send, website updates, look up a resource, etc.
- I put all errands on the Go list so I don’t forget something when I’m in town.
- The Do section has the items that don’t involve the computer or phone. I usually keep this part to personal things rather than work-related. Laundry, clean out the hall closet, plan meals, mail a bill, etc.
This time management style works for me because I can group like tasks together. It allows flexibility depending on how my day goes. When the kids are at school, that’s my prime time to get client work done. When they’re home and grumpy because it’s almost suppertime, that’s not ideal for me to be on the computer or phone but I can switch out a load of laundry.
The detailed time management list really helped when my kids were toddlers. I often had to work in very small chunks of time here and there. It kept me focused and I could spend more time on actual progress.
Good time management is obviously an important factor if you want to get your work at home done, hence the plethora of blogs and apps focused on that very purpose. However, we all know the unexpected pops up despite our beautifully arranged planner. This method really helps me stay on track and be more productive.
As a bonus, I’m including a To-Do List Printable for you. There’s also a blank version so you can label the categories as you want.
(If you’ve already signed up for the Resource Library, you can use your password to log in here.)
Know a friend who would benefit from these ideas? Do them a favor and send the post along!
How about you – what’s your biggest time management struggle when you work from home? Any shortcuts that have worked for you?