How to Manage Time Working From Home – 5 Essential Tips

Since 2020, remote work has seen an increase of 87%. As workplace dynamics continue to evolve, this number is definitely poised to grow, making it increasingly important to master the art of remote work time management

It’s true that remote jobs offer numerous advantages, including the ability to create a personalized work environment. However, without effective time management, the lines between work and personal life can easily blur.

How to Manage Time Working From Home – 5 Essential Tips
In this guide, you’ll learn:
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To help you tackle the challenges of remote work and reach your full potential, we’ve created an in-depth guide with tips and solutions on how to improve time management when working from home. But first, let’s discuss some of the challenges of remote work.  

The Problem With Remote Work

Remote work is a relatively new phenomenon that poses different types of challenges. The problems are not solely related to the change in the work environment (i.e., switching from a regular to a home office) but, more precisely, to the nature of those environments and the specific mindset that comes with them. 

Remote working environments double as or are adjacent to employees’ personal living spaces. Therefore, they’re not designed to promote work discipline and good time management in the same way an office would be.

Office jobs naturally impose a stricter routine and promote self-discipline. Waking up early, commuting, setting up at the office – all of that plays a role in creating a time management routine, even if it sometimes happens without you actively thinking about it.

But with remote work, time management has to be done willingly, something that is crucial if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance and reap the benefits of remote work.

Time Management Challenges in Remote Work

5 Tips to Improve Remote Work Time Management

1. Create a Work Structure

Unlike a regular office job that has your typical 9-5, remote work doesn’t always have a fixed working schedule. And, this is what leads a lot of remote employees to struggle with creating and sticking to specific work routines, which can negatively affect their productivity and overall remote work time management.

Here are some things that you could try to implement to improve your time management when working from home:

  • Create a to-do list – The purpose of to-do lists is to give you a clear overview of your daily tasks and nudge you into finishing all of them in a timely manner.
  • Set up a schedule that mimics working from a regular office – Create a work schedule that recreates the feeling and mindset of a structured work day, similar to working from an office. Set up your fixed work hours and time for breaks to mimic the work dynamic you would have at your (ideal) office.
  • Use time-tracking software – Although not intrinsically created for the purpose of improving self-discipline and personal work structure, time-tracking software can be utilized to achieve just that. You can use it to track task duration, thus managing your productivity and ensuring you send your deliverables within allocated deadlines. Also, with time-tracking software, you’ll get a deeper insight into your work habits, which can further improve your ability to self-manage your work schedule and keep it structured.

2. Limit Distractions at the Home Front

Just like working in a regular office, remote work has its own share of unique distractions, which can sometimes impede your ability to manage time, as well as your entire work schedule.

The most common types of distractions  that can negatively affect your overall time management working from home include:

  • Social media – Try to turn off notifications or keep your phone in a separate room to avoid being distracted by social media apps.
  • Family members and housemates –  The best solution is to talk to them and explain that even if you’re physically in the house, you’re still working, and they should respect your at-home work routine.
  • Noisy neighbors – If it’s a one-day thing, try talking to your neighbors and explaining your situation. If problems persist, contact your building manager, landlord, or an authority figure responsible for dealing with these issues. As a last resort, contact the police and make a noise complaint if the problem persists and/or worsens.
  • House chores – The best solution here is to do your house chores when taking breaks from work or before you even start working. 

Another way of dealing with remote work distractions  is to have a workspace that’s separate from your living/personal one, i.e., to create your own home office. This will make it much easier for you to separate work and private life.

If having a distinct work space in your home is not an option (e.g., the space you inhabit is not big enough to allow for such distancing), it might be a good idea to check out some co-working spaces in your area that are close by and within your budget. 

3.  Take Regular Breaks

Part of effective remote work time management is knowing when to take a break. The problem with working remotely is that a lot of people tend to ignore or simply forget about break time. 

In an office, there will always be someone to remind you to take a break and, most of the time, even ask you to join them. At home, it’s typically up to you. 

Not taking a break from work can actually lead to lowered productivity and can ultimately cause burnout. In this vein, taking regular breaks can positively affect your energy levels, allow you to revamp and reset your brain and mindset, improve your creativity, promote healthy habits, and more.

Here are a couple of things you could try to prevent overworking yourself in a remote work environment:

  • Set break reminders – Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a break. Depending on the nature of your work, your break time can vary, but ideally, you should aim for a 5-minute break every hour or so.
  • Take walks – Use your breaks to take short walks. It doesn’t matter if it’s just 10-15 minutes, a walk will help you clear your mind and reset so you can come back to work invigorated and ready to perform. If you have a pet, take them with you. They’ll love you for it!
  • Create physical boundaries between work and living spaces – Even if it’s just a curtain separating your home office from your living space, creating a distance is important. This type of barrier will help you train yourself to stop thinking about work once you leave that workspace.
  • Turn off work notifications – When you finish your work input for the day, that’s it. Turn off all of your notifications that are in any way, shape, or form related to work. 

4. Actively Work on Productivity 

Some people may struggle with the challenges that come with remote working environments, which, if not addressed properly and in a timely fashion, can lead to  productivity issues.

If you are experiencing this problem, here are a couple of things that you can do:

  • Stay ahead of it – If you realize you’re having productivity issues, try to address them as soon as possible. Talk to your managers before it becomes a bigger issue. If they have experience managing remote workers, they should be knowledgeable enough to give you some pointers on how to improve your performance. 
  • Utilize time tracking software –  The data from time tracking software can give you details about the estimated duration of your tasks and how long it took you to complete them. You can analyze this information and determine the root cause behind your low performance. Maybe there are specific types of tasks that are causing you issues. If that’s the case, try talking to your managers about switching up your work obligations or ask your colleagues to give you tips on how to get better at them. 
  • Create incentives – Create rewards or rewards systems for finishing tasks or certain work obligations. Similarly to gamification, this will help you keep a positive mindset regarding your work and help you feel more engaged.

5. Accept More  Accountability 

Remote workers should be ready to complete all their tasks and work obligations on time and with the expected level of quality, despite the lack of direct managerial oversight. This is an example of accountability, i.e., accepting full responsibility for your actions and job performance.

But, becoming more accountable is not always easy. Here are some helpful ideas on how to become more personally accountable:

  • Set goals – Setting clear and distinct goals for yourself and then achieving them is a good way to make yourself more accountable. You could use the S.M.A.R.T. method to set your goals (both short and long-term ones).
  • Clear and open communication – Remote teams often don’t communicate enough. And, even when they do, that communication is not always sufficient and clear to get everybody on the same page. One solution to this is to utilize modern tools, such as Zoom or similar, as a way to facilitate honest interactions between your remote team members.
  • Keep tabs on productivity – There are various tools and digital solutions that allow you to keep track of work productivity. This can help ensure you are performing to expected standards and are accountable for the work you produce. There are various project management tools or time-tracking apps that can help you with this endeavor. 
  • Take ownership of your work – One of the core pillars of becoming more accountable is to stand behind your work, good or bad. If you don’t do well, you’ll likely get some constructive criticism and feedback on improving and adjusting your workflow. 

How to Create Your Remote Work Schedule?

People and their general work habits are different, and this goes without saying when talking about remote work. Everybody has their own way of doing things, and trying to mess with that for the sake of establishing a singular remote work schedule template is sure to backfire. 

Instead, in this section of the article, we’re going to focus on some general tips that can help you improve the structure of your work day, stay on top of your productivity, improve your time management skills, and complete your tasks within set deadlines.

How to Create Your Remote Work Schedule

Get up Early

Try and get up at least an hour before you officially log in or clock in to your remote work. The reason for this is to give you enough time to prepare for work, go through your morning routine, or even do some minor house chores if that gives you peace of mind. Basically, use the time you would spend commuting to a regular office to prepare yourself for the work day.

Warm Up First

Before you start working on the most difficult tasks for the day, try to warm up with some easier work obligations, like sending and answering emails or completing menial administrative work. This will help you get into the right headspace and gradually separate (mentally) from the fact that you are in your home.   

Dress for Work

There’s a reason why actors find it easier to get into character if they are in costume. In acting, costumes are used as triggers that allow actors to embody the character more easily and truthfully.

Now, when it comes to remote work, you don’t need to “dress to impress.” The important thing here is not to wear your PJs the entire day. That’s it. It’s really difficult to feel and be productive while wearing sleepwear. 

If you can, try to wear something comfortable that still says, “I’m going to work now.” 

Prioritize Your Tasks

Try and identify the most important tasks you have on your plate for the day. There are various time management and task prioritization techniques that will help you set specific values and parameters to determine the level of difficulty and importance of each task you’re going to perform (e.g., Eisenhower Matrix). Doing that will allow you to allocate a sufficient amount of time to successfully complete more complicated tasks.

Use Time Tracking and Other Types of Software

Time tracking and various other types of tools (like project management software) can help remote workers create effective time management strategies. They can offer further support when striving to set and maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Time-tracking software can help you stay focused on and accountable for your work. It will give you a detailed overview of how you allocate your time during work hours, the work activities on which you spend your time ineffectively, and the times of day when you’re most/least productive. You can then use this data to tackle and, hopefully, completely eliminate time-wasting endeavors.  

Only by understanding how you spend your time can you optimize your productivity, prioritize tasks, and keep a good work-life balance in a remote work setting.


How can I track time when working remotely?

The best way to track time when working remotely is to use digital time-tracking tools. They can help you stay on top of all of your tasks, accurately track your work hours, as well as make a distinction between billable and non-billable hours.

How do you manage PTO for remote workers?

The most common way to successfully manage PTO (or paid time off) for remote workers is to use various types of digital tools — anything from project management software, and time-tracking apps, to other types of cloud-based organizational software. 

What does poor time management look like at home?

Poor time management when working at home can take on many different forms and can include negative consequences, such as:

  • Lowered productivity;
  • Increased risk of burnout;
  • Issues with work-life balance;
  • Increased levels of stress;
  • Missing deadlines;

How do you track productivity while working from home?

There are different ways to track productivity when working from home. For example, you can create a simple to-do list and tick off tasks as you complete them. If you want a more accurate way of measuring your remote work productivity, you might want to use time-tracking software. These types of digital tools will allow you to gather more accurate and detailed information about your work.