Working From Home

by Barbara Buffton

Time management for home workers

As a home worker, it will be your responsibility to make sure that you work as efficiently as possible and make the most of your work time on a daily basis. Good time management is absolutely crucial to this and will also help you keep a healthy work–life balance.

Structuring your day

Decide how many hours you need to work on a daily, or weekly, basis and which hours in the day suit you best for working. Some people prefer to start very early in the morning, while others are more productive in the evening – or 9 to 5 may be the perfect solution. Remember that you also need to factor in time when you are available for colleagues in the office, customers, and so on.

It’s easy to forget to take a coffee or lunch break when you’re in the middle of work. Set up a timer to remind yourself to take short breaks every so often to refresh yourself and, ultimately, work more productively.

Getting organised

A well-organised workspace will ensure that equipment, materials and resources are within easy reach so that you don’t waste time looking for them. Keep just the documents relevant to a particular task on your desk and systematically file others away so that you can find them easily when you need them again. For more ideas on getting your desk organised, see Time Management.

Staying focused

Make the most of your work time by staying focused on the task in hand.

  • Keep just the paperwork for the task in hand on your desk.
  • Schedule blocks of time that you can dedicate completely to the particular task.
  • Don’t be distracted by your email or the phone.
  • Check and respond to emails at certain intervals, such as once an hour and make it a habit.
  • Set a maximum time limit on how long you are going to spend on emails each day.
  • File your emails once they have been dealt with, leaving the ones in your Inbox as a mini To Do list.
  • Register your telephone number with the Telephone Preference Service (www.tpsonline.org.uk) to stop unsolicited calls.
  • For more ideas on managing interruptions, see How the employee can make it work
  • For more focusing techniques, see Time Management.

Time logs

Hopefully, your company will be more concerned about your output than how many hours you work, but you might still be required to keep a record of the hours you work.

You might also find that keeping a time log is a useful habit to get into for your own purposes. If you know how much time you’ve spent on one particular project, it will be easier to schedule your time for a similar project in the future.