Having a work-from-home job is a dream come true for many people. But even the most dedicated remote worker can sometimes get distracted, and without the traditional workplace structure, it’s easy to lose track of time. Mastering your time management is a great way to ensure you’re successful at working remotely. Utilize these tips to figure out how to make the most of your days and maximize your time, so you can enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
Assess how you currently spend your time
Before you can effectively improve your time management skills, you should figure out how you are actually spending your time. Get a planner or use your calendar to keep track of your daily activities so you can balance your appointments, social time, workouts, and everything else with your work schedule.
Once you have a better sense of how you spend your time, make sure your schedule aligns with your priorities. For example, if you like to finish your work by 3pm every day, you’ll want to make sure your morning schedule supports that.
Align your schedule with your priorities
Prioritizing our time is something we can all use a little help with. Most people’s natural inclination is to respond to our most urgent tasks instead of strategic prioritizing and planning for future efficiency. To break that habit, follow these steps, popularized by Steven Covey in his book First Things First:
- Create a 2×2 table.
- Write “Important” over the first column and “Not Important” over the second.
- Write “Urgent” on the left side of the top row, and “Not Urgent” beside the bottom row.
- Categorize your tasks according to how urgent and important they are.
- The most important tasks will fall in both the “Important” and “Urgent” categories. Focus on those first.
This is a great way to prioritize your tasks, and therefore better manage your time.
Create both daily and weekly to-do lists
At the beginning of each week, make a list of things you have to get done. Then create a daily list of tasks to help you prioritize your time. Keep work deadlines and personal appointments in mind. Not only will this help you set your schedule, but you’ll also get to enjoy the immense satisfaction of crossing things off a list.
Block out distractions during work time
Working from home is the best, but it can also be very distracting. When you set aside time specifically for work, minimize distractions by keeping your phone on silent and logging out of your social media accounts. Your home office should be a designated distraction-free space that’s set up to help you succeed. This way, your work will get done much faster, and you’ll know you’re doing your best.
Keep track of your time
It’s hard to manage your time effectively when you don’t know how long a task will take you. When you’re working, it’s a good idea to monitor your time and see how long it takes you to complete things.
Here at Appen, time management and tracking varies from project to project. Some projects track production time within the annotation tool directly, while other projects require our contractors to track their time independently. Free online apps such as RescueTime or Clockify can help you when you must track your own time independently — but make sure to only track time when you’re actually rating in the tool, and pause during breaks or other activities beyond rating. By utilizing a time management app, you can accurately track time spent during annotation; as we well know, time can “fly by” or “crawl forward at a snail’s pace” depending on the time of day, difficulty of the task, environment, mood, and other factors.
Once a time management system is identified, you can then work to improve your overall speed with that of the project defined RPH (Rate Per Hour) goals. For most projects, quality and speed are the key components to a successful rating experience — with quality more important than speed. Asking your project contact and/or discussing on the company’s social boards with fellow contractors can often lead to helpful insights into improving RPH, such as using shortcut keys, managing time spent for side searches, and taking scheduled breaks.
A well-organized workspace and home will free up a lot of time in the long run. Think about how long it takes you to look for lost things and clean up your messes. Not only will an organized space help you manage your life, it could end up saving you a lot of potential headaches. When we aren’t organized, it’s easy to forget about appointments, meetings, and deadlines.
Time management is an essential skill to have when you’re working a remote job, but with these tips, you’ll be on top of it in no time at all.
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