Time Management

 |  Work

One of my big worries about working from home is the discipline required to achieve everything I need to do with the numerous distractions at home.

While Oliver is small and sleeps or feeds most of the day, I have three full days for coding where Isabel is at nursery. I also have my evenings, although I like to get to bed for a sensible hour. This feels like a decent amount of time but compared to the distraction-free run of days at your standard 9—5 I feel like I’m already against the clock.

I’ve been using FreshBooks to track project times:

…which is helping to ensure I’m tracking time for client projects, and meeting my expectations/guestimations for project time length (so that I don’t under-charge). This doesn’t help with general time allocation though; it doesn’t stop me from spending 15 minutes of an hour tweeting when I could (should) be working which for a full days coding, putting me at a deficit of 2 hours or more!

I’m trialling Evernote to keep track of my notes and to do lists (which I used to use at work to keep me on track) but I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m spending more time managing myself than I am just getting on with stuff.

So what’s a girl to do?

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

6 comments so far

  1. Stephanie said:

    I don’t know how it would work for you and your projects, but I like using the Pomodoro method to break down my tasks into chunks. I like the “gamification” of the system where you’re challenged to predict how many “pomodoros” it will take to complete a task, and you can do all sorts of analyses to determine your accuracy and such.


    • Jem said:

      I’ve heard of it but I always think it sounds gimmicky. You’re the second person in a week who’s said they use it though, so maybe I should give it a go.

      • Stephanie said:

        I mean, it is. It’s nothing revolutionary. You use a timer. Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. Repeat until you’ve worked four sets. Take a 30 minute break. Rinse and repeat. But I find working toward a small goal of finishing something in 25 minutes makes me feel more accomplished.

  2. Louise said:

    that idea does look good :-) Maybe I’ll try it too!
    Here’s what I do Jem – obviously the work I do is voluntary and therefore there is always some flexibility in the deadlines which helps when family needs take over.
    My smartphone has been a big help in allowing me to keep track of my emails so I can send off a quick reply then and there whilst waiting for the children to finish breakfast/lunch or whilst I’m hiding in the bathroom! It means that when I sit down to do some work I’m not spending 30 minutes catching up with emails before I can get down to what I need to do.
    I use a lot of my school run walking time for thinking and working through problems and also writing my to-do list in my head. I also find it’s a good way to let of steam/unwind and keep me on the straight and narrow. It means that when I can sit down and work I don’t have to do the whole research/thinking bit first.
    I’m not a big list writer as some how I manage to keep most of it in my head but I use stickies on my desktop for things that I really need to remember.
    I’ve been using Zoho Projects for project planning. I’m used to MS Project so it’s second nature to me but I do think it’s more flexible. I like being able to allocate tasks to the milestones and then also have a a task list for each task. That way I can I really write down everything that needs doing.
    I think you’re right to track your time and it’s good practice (if not essential if you’re doing your own billing) to keep metrics and plot actuals against your estimate.
    I try to get a bit of balance between family and work life – so I don’t work every spare minute that I have. I know that if I have to – I can probably clock up around 3 days per week but when Willow stops sleeping in the day that’ll drop to 2 days. To make sure I don’t burn out, I try to limit the number of work ‘days’ I have. So I’ll only work say 4 out of 7 evenings a week and maybe 3 out of 7 nap times.
    I do it this way so (a) I don’t feel that I’m neglecting my children or husband and (b) I don’t feel that I’m missing out on doing the things that I really want to do in my spare time.
    It can take a while to get a balance and work out what works and what doesn’t :-)

  3. han said:

    A girl is to use the secret weapon! its BRILLIANT!

    I can’t stop recommending it! I’m so so so so so so so much more organised its like I’ve taken a whole weight off my mind!

    Just put aside half an hour to watch the videos you will be convinced! (you may have to tweak slightly but you can apply the method to everything/other programs once its setup)

    Its organised my home, work, freelance and japanese work.

  4. Carly said:

    I also use Freshbooks and have done for over a year, it’s awesome :)

    Han got me on to Evernote, but I don’t have an iPhone or regularly use my iPad enough so I find I’m probably not using it to its full potential.

    I find I cheat at the Pomodoro technique also. Off to check out Han’s Secret Weapon suggestion now…