Do you feel like you’re the master of your calendar?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, it might seem like your schedule has more control over your work than you do. That’s what happens when tasks like emailing client leads, joining calls with collaborators, and client work keep piling up.
With better time management skills, you can get more done even when you work from home. It’s all about cutting out the distractions, identifying when (and how) you work best, and creating an intentional schedule that prioritizes what’s important to you.
How to manage your time as a work-from-home entrepreneur
How many times have you felt unorganized, unmotivated, or unfocused when working from home? This is a sign that it’s time to reassess how well you’re managing your time. If you can’t remember the last time you did this, here are a few easy strategies to help you get started.
Track your time
One of the best ways to manage your time is to first track your hours. How can you improve your time management without knowing how much time you’re spending on each project? If you want to increase your productivity, time tracking will give you a head start.
If it feels like your workdays fly by and it’s hard to remember what you accomplished, you’re not alone. Many work-at-home freelancers and entrepreneurs feel the same way, especially when they need to complete several small tasks rather than one large project.
Time tracking not only helps you remember everything you worked on in a given day or week, but it also shows how much time you spent on each task.
If you think it will take two hours to complete a project, but it actually takes five, reconsider how this could affect your schedule moving forward. However, if you think it will take five hours to complete a project, but it only takes two, ask yourself why that happened and if you can produce the same results again to save even more time.
Time tracking can help you:
- Become more aware of how long it really takes you to complete a task
- Raise your prices as you become more efficient over time
- Reduce wasted time by identifying your most common distractions
- Identify your most productive hours so you know when to schedule work
To get started with time tracking, first estimate the number of hours needed to complete a task. Then get to work to test your theory. By using a time tracking tool like Toggl, Clockify, or other alternatives you can track your progress through specific tasks and recognize where your time is best used.
Luckily, you don’t have to use time tracking in your business every day if you don’t want to. Instead, we recommend tracking your hours for a couple of weeks before you make long-term adjustments to your schedule.
Create a designated place to work
Have you ever tried to work in an environment that seemed to drain your energy? It can be one of the worst feelings! When this happens, it’s important to consciously understand what feels “off” about the space so that you can create an ideal place to work.
You could start the day with a lot of motivation and inspiration, but it may not stick around if you try to work in the wrong place. Since every work-from-home entrepreneur has different preferences, it’s important to understand how and where you work best. Otherwise, you’ll end up creating a designated workspace that doesn’t boost your productivity.
As you discover your ideal work environment, ask yourself:
- Do I enjoy natural light or a darkened room?
- Do I like to be surrounded by clutter or have everything organized?
- Do I need to work by a window with a view or does a wall suffice?
- Do I like warm colors, cool colors, or a neutral palette?
Beyond these overarching questions, you can make the space feel more like you by adding a few personal touches. This could be a scented candle, a framed photo on your desk, an accent wall of motivational art prints, a stack of journals and notebooks, or a collection of pens you love to write with.
No matter how you decide to decorate the space, it should fit your needs. You may not be able to create the home office of your dreams right now, but you can take intentional steps toward the vision. It’s even better if the space you choose is only used for work, so you can step away from it at the end of the day and completely unwind.
Take frequent breaks
It may seem like breaks are unproductive by nature, but what if we told you science tells us something different?
Studies have shown that prolonged attention to a single task can actually hinder performance and productivity. When we are in the middle of a workday, breaks can help us fight decision fatigue, improve comprehension, and restore motivation.
This may seem like a permission slip to take as many breaks throughout the day as you’d like, but hold up! Let’s take a moment to consider how many breaks you actually need. There can be too much of a good thing.
One way to get started is by experimenting with the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that’s become wildly popular in the entrepreneurial and marketing world. This strategy asks you to work in 25-minute intervals, pausing each time for a short break. The longer you’ve been working, the longer your break can be.
While this technique may not be your golden ticket to better productivity, it might give you structure around how to start taking breaks. Reaching for your phone or scrolling through social media might not be the best way to rest your mind.
Here are a few healthy things to do during your breaks:
- Get up and stretch for five minutes
- Take a short walk around your neighborhood
- Read a chapter in a book
- Listen to a short podcast episode
- Change your environment
- Eat a healthy snack
- Meditate or journal your thoughts
Use time blocking strategies
Some entrepreneurs call this technique “time blocking,” while others call it “task batching” and “day theming.” No matter which term speaks to you, they all point toward one thing: helping you break down your schedule.
Time blocking helps you complete similar tasks in a dedicated block of time. Instead of trying to answer emails throughout the workday and scheduling calls in between client work, time blocking streamlines your calendar so you don’t have to switch between tasks constantly. This will preserve your energy when working from home and help you focus on a single task while significantly minimizing distractions.
Remember when we talked about time tracking? Tracking how many hours it takes for you to complete a task or project can really help when you start time blocking your schedule. That way, you can create time blocks based on the amount of time you know it’ll take to get each thing done.
To get started with time blocking, we recommend first adding time to review the following day at the end of each day. That may seem counterintuitive, but when you take the time to prep for the next day after completing your work, you’ll be able to schedule your time blocks with a clear mind. It will help you walk more confidently into the next day so you don’t have to come up with a plan first thing in the morning.
Time blocking allows freelancers and entrepreneurs to take back control of their calendars. Who wouldn’t love the sound of that? We highly recommend trying this technique, no matter what industry you’re in. It can be a total game-changer.
Spend your time on the right projects when working from home
Now that you know what it takes to manage your time, consider what other strategies can help you work from home as an entrepreneur.
Whether you’re working full time in a home office or your business is currently a side hustle, you need to know which tasks are worth your time. Since marketing is one of the biggest things on your to-do list, let’s start there!
When you create a marketing strategy, you should build it around your strengths. That way, it will work with you rather than against you. Take the quiz below to understand your marketing superpowers and how they relate to your work-from-home business.