Working from home as an OBM (Online Business Manager) makes it easy to live in a gray area when it comes to time. While you say you work 8:30am to 5:30pm, your email replies at 10 o’clock at night say otherwise. When you don’t have a clear cut off time with your day, as you would in a corporate setting (because you physically have to leave the office), you can constantly find yourself lost in projects that consume hours of your day rather than the 45 minutes you know that job should take.
Finding work-life balance is extremely important when you work from home, so step one is learning to manage your time. Check out our hacks that will help you get your life back and stop jumping at every “Hey-can-you-edit-this-real-quick?” email.
Build A To-Do List
It must be the oldest time saving tip in the world, but it totally works. Here’s how to build a to-do list that will actually help get things done.
- Look at your entire week, not just the next 8 hours
- List the items you must complete by Friday
- Based on when those projects are due, assign each task to the day of the week that gives you adequate time to complete it (minus the up-til-midnight crunch)
- When a new assignment comes in, resist the urge to immediately jump in and give it a space in the appropriate day’s to-do list
Give yourself a goal time to complete each project so that you’re aware of the time you’re spending and you don’t get lost in one task for hours.
Plan Your Breaks
Lunch breaks, coffee breaks, or taking a quick walk down the hallway are a part of the normal office setting, so you need to include those moments in your day. Purposefully schedule downtime for those moments you can feel your focus slipping – the 10 a.m. Facebook check-in, the 2 p.m. text conversation – that way you can take a timed break, and get back to work with fresh eyes.
Block Out Distractions
Just as you plan your breaks, you need to purposefully plan your work environment. Sitting down to edit a client’s marketing strategy is all for not with Facebook notifications still open or a flash sale countdown clock ticking in a different tab. Close out the distractions and work through until the project is complete.
To-do lists are just a start (albeit a really good one) to time and office organization. Find a system – Google docs, Asana, or Teamwork PM – that tracks your work, client calls, invoices, contracts, and more. Find a platform that works for you and stop wasting time fumbling through files or searching for a missing invoice.
As an OBM, you naturally want to be indispensable to clients, but you’ll quickly get burnt out with work overload if you’re always saying yes. If you need to evaluate if you have time, let the client know you need to check your calendar and will get back with them within the hour. That small window of time will help you avoid overcommitting and being over stressed.
You have the ability to be a strong OBM and still protect your time. These time management skills will help you develop an efficient work routine while still leaving room for a personal life. What are your best time management hacks? Comment below!
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