By Melissa Woodson
Time management can be difficult with any job, but especially for those with home offices. If you struggle to get everything done within a limited amount of time without neglecting your family or your home, here are five time management tips for you:
1. Create a to-do list.
Since it is too easy to get distracted, you need to prioritize. Make a daily list of what you need to get accomplished, in order from most important to least. Your list can include household chores, as well as packets that you need to collate and staple. Crossing items off as you complete them really does give you a sense of satisfaction, even if it only involves taking the garbage out. It is also helpful to complete the most unpleasant tasks first and work your way to the most enjoyable. This will help you retain focus and motivation as the day gets later and you inevitably become tired.
2. Schedule your time.
Keep a daily and weekly planner, whether it is a digital or paper version. Track your work deadlines, medical appointments, kids’ soccer games, etc. While you may not work a traditional eight-hour shift at home, you should carefully plan your work time, including lunch and break times. Really try to stick to your daily schedule, as you will get much more accomplished that way. You also need to stress the importance of your work time to your family members, and it is easier to accomplish this by creating a period of time regularly dedicated to work than working at different hours around the clock.
3. Hire help.
Some people would never get anything done if it weren't for a sitter. Carefully work some help into your budget if possible, because you will get more work accomplished when you can concentrate on it while being assured that someone is watching the children. If your children are school aged, you can try to get your work done during school hours. But you still may want to have a sitter available to buy you some time to tackle last-minute deadlines on the weekend or just to catch up on household chores. If you cannot find someone near you, try a site like Care.com. It allows you to set your own rates and may even help you find someone to help with light cleaning around the house!
4. Make time for exercise.
This is an absolute must. You will feel more energized and productive with exercise, especially if you can do it early in the morning or during your midday slump. Work for a few hours, take a jog, shower, then work some more. You will feel better about yourself and get more done with those extra endorphins.
5. Let technology help you.
You can use apps to help you manage and organize your time. Wunderlist is a nifty (and free) app that lets you create and organize your to-do lists, whether they are grocery lists or projects for work. You can even collaborate with others and have the app send you reminders and notifications. For a daily and weekly planner, GoogleCalendar can help you organize your time, set reminders and even send others invitations to others for collaborative events. Remember: Organization equals productivity!
Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, a premier program for foreign attorneys to earn their LLM Online in U.S. law and just one of the llm degree programs offered by Washington University in St. Louis. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.