Time Management: Working From Home
Many more workers are working from home and while that it has the advantage of not having to commute to the office, many of my clients say they feel that they spend all their time working and can’t disconnect from work. Others feel that they are losing their professionalism and focus. When I discuss this with them, I find they have forgotten their time management skills and have not adjusted them for their new situation.
Here are some typical complaints I hear and how you can solve them.
I can not separate home from work!
Not everyone can have a home office and may work off a table in their lounge, so the computer becomes your office space and needs to be thought of as your office.
Only go to that computer during regular work hours and do not turn it on at any other time of the day or week. Don’t be tempted to do work regularly outside of your normal work hours. Yes, there are occasional exceptions, but it shouldn’t happen regularly.
I can not seem to get organized in the morning. I just don’t feel like I am at work.
The best way to solve this is to keep to your normal routine as much as possible. Try and get up at your usual time and get dressed in your everyday business attire, at least from the waist up. Don’t be tempted to work in the pyjamas you slept in at night. Dressing for work gives you the feeling you are going to work. If you are used to taking an hour to get to work and now have time to spare, don’t be tempted to start work early.
Some people also like to define home and starting work at home by physically leaving the house. They may take a short walk, or buy a morning coffee, then return home. They return home at the time they would normally get to the office. When they get home, they go to their computer, sit down, and are now at the office.
Treat the work hours the same you did when you were at the office. Just because you are physically at home doesn’t mean you can stop working to clean the house, put the laundry on, or take the kids somewhere. You need to do these out of work time, just like you always did.
The kids keep disturbing me.
Yes, I have worked at home with kids around, but they soon learned that when I was sitting at my work computer, it was like I was not there. They soon learned only to disturb me in an emergency. You are the one who needs to set these boundaries. If you used to send your child to a preschool, and you can still send them there, send them to the daycare. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can be a full-time parent and be a full-time worker.
I keep getting distracted.
During the day, keep to your scheduled break times, a mid-morning break, lunch break, and afternoon break. During these times, don’t be tempted to do things like housework. Instead, take a short walk, read, or message a co-worker and chat, so do the things you would do during a routine office break. Set these times in your work calendar, so you get a pop-up reminder.
Don’t answer the door, answer the non-work phone, check on your personal emails, or arrange for tradesmen to come round during your workday. Remember you don’t do those when you are in the office, and when you are at your computer, you are in the office.
I seem to finish work much later than I used to.
Set up reminders in your calendar 30 mins and 5 minutes before you are due to finish for the day. The 30-minute reminder is so you can do your end of day tasks and set your schedule for the next day. The 5-minute reminder is for you to remember to finish work on time! At that time, log off from your computer, shut it down and close the lid. Once the lid is closed, you have left the office. Again, this is when some people like to pretend they are going home by leaving the house and taking a short walk. When they return home, they are coming home from work. Remember not to answer your work phone or work emails routinely after work hours.
What do I do with the extra time now I don’t have to commute?
I have some clients who say that because they don’t spend an hour or more commuting to and from work each day, they feel they should be working for those hours. But that commuting time has always been your time. You are not paid to commute. It is extra time for you to use doing anything you want to do, whether it is sleeping, exercising, or taking a course.
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