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Time Management: Working from Home

The shift to working from home during these times has become an adjustment for organizations across the US. In this course, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dave Crenshaw talks about some familiar struggles of working from home and how to remain productive. 

Many of the time management challenges we see working from home can be attributed to freedom. The office has a certain structure and boundary to it, while the home does not. Create your own boundaries in your new workspace to remain productive.  A workspace provides a physical and mental barrier between your work and your personal life. The stronger the visual difference you can keep between this workspace and the rest of your home, the better.

Freedom to create your own schedule can be tricky, so account for certain periods of time in your schedule. Know that you will get interrupted during the day and build some unplanned time in your schedule to catch up on the tasks you missed when you got interrupted. Schedule breaks to do something enjoyable throughout the day. Holding yourself back from a break actually degrades your performance over time. 

The most important part of working from home is communication—determine ground rules for working from home with your employer. If the company has an established history of employees who work from home, they probably already have these ground rules and policies in place for you to follow. If not, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to see what they expect from you while you work from home. What are expected response times for emails? What are the criteria your supervisor has to determine whether you’re an effective employee while working from home?

Make sure virtual meetings go smoothly by familiarizing yourself with the technology you’re using, removing visual distractions in your background, dressing according to typical office dress code and letting the other people in your home know when you will be in a virtual meeting.

Quick questions will come up more often when you work from home—you’ll get frequent emails or instant messages from your colleagues that require you to switch from what you’re working on, answer, and then switch your focus back. These happen often enough that you end up putting out small fires and not getting any work done. Avoid this by having one-on-ones with your supervisor or employees once a week dedicated to these quick questions. 

If you’re working from home at the same time as others who live with you, discuss boundaries between yourselves, too. Be open about your work schedule and making small adjustments to accommodate their needs. Stick to the agreement you make. If you live with children, help them understand your “at-home” hours and “at-work” hours. To help them make the transition, set aside a few hours a day where everyone in the home can work or play quietly in the house so the kids can entertain themselves—not rely on you.

Most issues with working from home revolve around time, and these issues with time revolve around how well you can handle certain freedoms. If you can build boundaries at work and home, you can be just as productive at home as you are at the office.

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