More people are working from home than at any other time in history. For many it’s their first experience ever working remotely. The transition from a workplace office to a home office requires adopting new habits to stay balanced and productive. Whether you are a freelancer or part of a team, getting paid hourly or a salary, I recommend adding time tracking to your toolbox. Here’s why…
Working remotely has blurred the line between the professional and personal. One of the advantages to working remotely is that you can take breaks throughout the day to attend to your personal life. Like, rotating the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, or reading the newspaper. However, the home office is also full of distractions that can easily derail a workday.
The inverse is also a concern — it’s harder to switch off work when your laptop is always within reach. Home life can be ignored too easily if there’s always something to be done “at” work.
When you track your time you will quickly find out exactly where your time is going. And, once you’ve accumulated a few weeks of data, the numbers will reveal if you’ve been spending too much time, or too little, at work. Understanding how much of your time is going toward work makes it easier to justify spending more time on the personal.
Remote Team Collaboration
Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you’re working in isolation. You’re still part of a team. Not being in an office together makes collaborating and communicating with your remote team more challenging. Time tracking helps because it keeps each person informed as to what others are working on.
While it’s important to check in with your remote team at least once a day, it’s also useful to know where their time is going throughout the week. Weekly and daily time tracking reports will reveal which projects and tasks received the most attention, and highlight the work that was neglected. Project managers and team leaders, especially, will find this data useful for keeping projects on time and under budget.
New Work Habits
Working remote from home requires building new work habits. What worked at the office won’t necessarily work at home. With longer periods of uninterrupted time you will find your work habits shifting. While you’re still doing the same work remote, when you get it done is going to be different. For example, you may find yourself more focused and productive in the early morning or late afternoon now that you don’t have to commute.
Time tracking can help you identify and maintain routines to keep you productive. After you’ve filled out a few weekly timesheets you’ll begin to see a pattern. You’ll see which days are more productive than others, and which days are more likely to be consumed with meetings. When you understand where your time is going you can plan your work week accordingly.