There was one phrase my grandmother never tired of saying -“one work at a time”. When I think about working from home, I can’t help but think that it’s the exact opposite of that. It is multi-tasking at its finest, with you getting pulled in a hundred different directions at the same time.
However, for many women working from home is the only option. The reasons vary – the most common one being for their children. However, whatever your reason for working from home, self-discipline and time management are essential skills that need to be cultivated to be successful.
These might sound obvious, but if you can implement these, you’re sure to succeed in working from home:
1. Schedule Your Day In Advance
Make a list of your tasks for your next day on the previous evening or night. As a work at home parent, it is important to schedule not only your work time but also your time with family and household work. There are various techniques including making priority lists or using post-its. What worked for me in increasing my efficiency was creating mind maps of the next day on a piece of paper, and then taking a photo of it on my phone. That way I have all my days plans in one place.
One of the advantages of staying at home is you get to be around your kids. However, there is a big difference between just being with your kids and actually spending time with them. For this, it is important to include that too in your schedule. For example, I usually schedule a time each day to take my kids to the park, another half hour of playtime with the kids in the mornings, meal times and reading time before afternoon naps. That way I get to bond, and not feel guilty about not giving enough attention to the children.
2. Create a Workplace
The ideal work place at home would be in a separate room; away from the common areas of the home like the living room or dining. Having a designated space will help you transition your mind from “home mode” to “work mode”. Also, this way you have all your work equipment and material in one place for easy retrieval. Personally, I prefer a bright corner with a work table and a comfortable chair. Since most of our work is usually done sitting down, it is prudent to invest in an ergonomic chair to avoid the long list of possible aches and pains.
3. Minimize Distractions
Ever decided to test your willpower by going on a diet when you have plenty of fried food and sweets at home? Sometimes that’s what working from home feels like. There are your favorite TV shows, the inviting bed calling out to you, and the big time consumer of all: social media websites and email. It is important to limit our time on social media, by scheduling a time each day for it. I turn off all notifications on my phone, and plan my social media time twice a day so that I am not always on it. Also, since my work generally involves a lot of reading online, I tend to set alarms on my phone so that I am not aimlessly wandering in the land of breaking news, suggested posts and endless links.
4. Snatch Some “Vaccum” or “No Disturb” Times
The ability to multitask is great, but working in a “vaccum” with singular focus is important, especially when your work involves creativity or precision. Create such slots for yourself which the help of others, for example, hire a babysitter or schedule these times when your spouse is at home. Maximize the time when your kids nap or are off at school to do your best work. Do not encourage any calls or visits during this time.
5. Set Work Boundaries and Limits
Set up fixed, non-negotiable time or “office hours” when you will be available for work. This is very important when you work from home, otherwise, it will seem like you are always available and “on-call”. Early on in the interactions with your employers, it is good to establish hours in the day when you can be reached for updates or meetings.
6. Hold Yourself Accountable
Without constant supervision in a work-from-home environment, you are your own boss. You are the only one who can hold yourself accountable. If you are a freelancer you have the flexibility to do as much or as less work as you want. This is when goal setting: both long-term and the short term becomes important. Also, you will have to track your activities and follow up on your own deadlines. There are many apps and tools available for this, I, however, prefer a simple excel sheet with start and end dates and tracking which is updated every day.
By Namratha Varadharajan
Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com