You may choose to work from home thinking you will have more time for yourself, only to find out that you actually have less. Or that work stretches late into the day, taking up your whole evening, and maybe even bite into your night. One of the challenges of working from home is managing your time effectively.
Have a schedule
Without a well-defined schedule, you may end up working a lot more than with a normal job. While one of the benefits of working from home is a more flexible schedule, you need to know when work starts and when it ends. Otherwise, you may end up being tied to your computer all day.
Create a simple work schedule. Use a calendar or draft it in your notebook. Consider putting fewer hours down for work than you are willing to work. That’s because often you will end up working more. Don’t be surprised if at home working time passes faster than in the office.
Work on the hardest tasks first
As a writer, you probably work on a computer. Computers encourage multitasking. Multitasking has been shown to lessen productivity and affect concentration.
Multitasking is often necessary, but because of its mind-blurring effects, it’s best left after more demanding task are completed. For example, I find it’s better to write a new piece first and revise and edit previous work later.
Don’t work late into the night if you can help it
Our best writing often happens at night, when the world grows quiet. And yet working into the night may affect our sleep. Even if we can afford to wake at noon, we’ll usually have a slow start. Also, our energy will be lower and we’ll lose the maximum focus our brain is capable of, which is in the morning.
Reduce the number of apps and tools you are using
There are plenty of writers’ tools these days and some of them are useful. But at the end of the day, a word processor is usually enough. The switching back and forth between apps and tools may divide attention and possibly increase our workload.
And there are also the occasional updates, errors, and other inevitable extra tasks related to such tools we have to deal with.
Don’t mix work with your own creative writing
You start writing an article but then have an idea for a story and switch to that. The trouble with mixing the two is that returning to work and picking up where you left at the same level of concentration will be hard.
And to make things worse, because you have to work, you may not have enough time to follow your creative idea to its full potential and see it flower. I find that writing flows more easily when I focus on one thing at a time, i.e., when I draw a line between writing for work and writing creatively.
Define your role as a blogger
For many writers, blogging falls somewhere in between work and their own personal projects. It’s both personal and creative, but on a different scale. It can also be distracting and disruptive because good blogging calls for plenty of posts.
That’s why it helps to set up clear blogging targets (i.e. how much you post, on what days, when you reply to comments) and set separate time aside for blogging.
Track your work time
Time trackers can help you define tasks more clearly and then focus on one task at a time. At the end of the day or week, they also show you how much time you spent on what.
This allows you identify time sinks and rearrange your schedule accordingly. For example, you may find that you’re spending a lot of time on a particular type of task. However, avoid making your time management too specific or it will become itself a time sink.
Do you work from home or have done so in the past? If so, do you have any time management tips you’d like to share with work-from-home writers?