Fall is quickly approaching and summer is coming to a close. Recently, my kids returned to school. As a work-from-home dad, I try my best to be as productive as possible and this shift in schedules can be challenging.
Before my daughters were in school, I would proof a blog post while they watched Frozen (again for the umpteenth time). I would go through email while they took a nap. But now I have big chunks of time and want to use it well. So far, one thing has really worked well for me: time tracking.
When I track my time, I am the most productive.
I knew this was essential from having read books like 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Both of these books nurtured the way I thought about time. I knew that little things would eat away at the hours if I didn’t limit the internal distractions and external demands. I did not want to have eight hours to work and nothing to show for it.
If you want to use your time better at home as well, here’s what worked well for me:
- Print out a time log. Any Google search will do. I strongly suggest a physical copy. Not just because I like paper, but because it eliminates one additional distraction, your screen. How often do you log on only to find yourself on infinite scroll? I do all the time.
- Write down your goals for each day. I have three big goals each day. Sometimes it’s one big project, sometimes a few small ones. Decide before you even start work – ideally the night before – about what you want to get done.
- Record what you have done. If you write, write it down. Read, write it down. Clean the kitchen, write it down. When you note what you do, it does two things. First, it makes you accountable to for what you chose to do. When you write it down it’s a signature of accountability. Second, it makes you pay close attention to what you do. No longer will little time sucks go unnoticed.
- Look for patterns. My biggest discovery was that I like to snack and randomly browse the web. I stopped my snack problem when I limited my trips to the kitchen. The web surfing has been harder to rein in, but I know it’s something to work on and that alone has improved my response.
To have the ability to work from home has been great. It makes my personal life easier and opens up professional opportunities that I wouldn’t have elsewhere. That said, it isn’t easy. But it is definitely worth it.
If you work from home, what are some tips you have for a good work day?