One of the major challenges I encountered when I became a work at home mom was tracking my productivity. I knew it was going to be harder working at home than in an office because of all the distractions, but how will I know if I’ve done enough for the day? In an office, I know I’ll have the company clock and boss to tell me when I’m done for the day and I can finally relax. But what would happen once I start working at home? How will I know if I’ve already clocked in 8 hours worth of work? How will I know if I’ve done too much or too little for the day?
From being an office worker to telecommuter to work at home mom, I’ve had the opportunity to try out different ways of tracking my productivity depending on the type of work that I had to do that day. These different methods have helped me a lot, not just in tracking my work productivity, but it has also helped me determine my work personality and schedule. Once I found out what hours of the day I worked best (I’m a morning person, an 8-5 kinda gal) and my work personality (I prefer to focus and finish 1 task at a time, not an efficient multi-tasker) I was able to find was to make myself more productive, allowing me to do more with less time.
I’ll be sharing just some of the techniques that I have tried and have worked for me and my friends. We actually use more than one way of tracking our and we change it up a bit sometimes depending on the project, how busy we are, and how we work.
- Creating a task list. Creating a list of the tasks you need to do every day is extremely helpful especially if you’re working on a very flexible (unpredictable) schedule. And there’s something really satisfying watching your task list grow shorter. Another great thing about working from a list is it forces you to be organized and to learn how to prioritize (especially when you have to make last minute insertions to your task list). A really good tip when working from is a list is to be honest with yourself and know how much work you can really do in a day. Categorize what’s most important and least important. That way, you’ll know when you’ve done enough and putting in a little bit of extra work would just be optional. For creating a list, it can be something as simple as a list on a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet on your computer. But if you’re sharing a tasklist with colleagues or employees, you may want to put that list online or use project management tools like Basecamp or ClockingIT.
- Tracking software. A lot of online workers I know don’t like time tracking/productivity tracking software because it makes them feel like they’re being spied on. It does have that big brother quality to it but the thing I like about tracking software is it helps you identify what type of worker you are and what kind of things can distract you. This because the software tracks everything that you do, down to the very last second. That’s when you realize that maybe you’re spending too much time on Facebook or answering your email. The software also shows you what jobs you like the most, what jobs you’re most efficient in, and what jobs you dislike the most or take the most time finishing. RescueTime, Freshbooks, and TimeDoctor are just some of the software I’ve tried. You also need to have a reliable internet connection for it provide accurate data.
- Timer. I use a timer for tedious, repetitive tasks. It motivates me to work faster for some reason and I also use it when I have a definite deadline. Having a timer is also great if you’re being paid by the hour.