Get All Access for $5/mo

5 Tips for Staying Focused on What Matters When You Work From Home Time management becomes even more important when you're surrounded with at-home distractions.

By Brendan M. Egan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hero Images | Getty Images

Many companies are allowing employees to work from home. In fact, 43 percent of American workers said they worked from home at least some of the time in the last year. And there's an entire group of workers -- among them entrepreneurs and those running startups -- who operate exclusively from home.

Employees typically love working from home because it saves commuting time and is more convenient and comfortable. But it has its downsides as well. With so many distractions at home, remote workers and entrepreneurs may find it difficult to stay productive throughout the day.

It's impossible to do it all even if you've completely mastered the art of time management. But these five tips should make you feel more productive and in control of your workload.

1. Create a list of 'in-between' tasks.

Make a list of small tasks that will take less than 15 minutes to complete and keep this by your side throughout the day. Try to squeeze these tasks in whenever you have a few minutes to spare. If you have a conference call in 10 minutes, don't just sit around waiting for the time to pass. Tackle one of the tasks on this list. It's a great way to make the most out of every minute of your day.

2. Determine your most productive hours.

Some people believe they're at their best in the morning while others feel more energized and awake at night. Get more done every day by identifying your most productive hours. These are the hours you should take on your MITs (most important tasks). Implementing this strategy will ensure you focus your best energy on the tasks that simply must be completed.

Related: Scientists Say These Are the 2 Most Important Hours of the Day. Are You Making the Most of Them?

3. Make to-do lists in advance.

The vast majority of people who work from home start their days by jotting down a to-do list. Even though this quick exercise should help you feel more prepared for the day ahead, it sometimes can have the opposite effect. Seeing all those items in one place can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed, which is not a good way to start the day. These feelings can linger around for a while, too.

Instead, try writing your to-do list at night. Wait until you're ready to call it a day, and then spend a few moments putting together a list for the next morning. If you write your to-do lists in the evening, you will avoid stressful surprises in the morning. Planning your day in advance allows you to get right to work in the morning. You'll face the new day organized, with no need to panic about that to-do list.

Related: The Amazing Side Benefit of Writing a Daily To-Do List

4. Make accurate estimates.

Accurately estimating the time it takes to complete your work is the key to mastering time management. Why? Let's say you tell a client you can complete Task A and Task B within 24 hours. You estimate Task A will take five hours and Task B will take one hour. But Task A actually will take seven hours to complete. Now, you'll have to work longer hours to meet your deadline -- all because you did a poor job of estimating the effort required.

The takeaway: Always give yourself a little bit of extra time.

Related: Which Came First? The Time Estimate or the Time-Suck?

5. Use time-management apps.

Take advantage of the many time-management apps available for smartphones and tablets. Do you have a procrastination problem? Factor in this "procrastination time" so you have a more accurate estimate of when the task will be done. If Facebook is a problem, disable any alerts or block the website altogether so you're forced to ignore temptation.

Timely, for example, organizes your work week by estimating how long the projects on deck will take to finish. As you move through the week, it tracks how long it actually took you to complete each task. This information helps you make more accurate predictions in the future.

Related: 4 Reasons People Procrastinate and a Cure for Each One

Brendan M. Egan

Founder & CEO of Simple SEO Group

Brendan Egan is an entrepreneur involved in more than a dozen startup companies. His primary focus is running Simple SEO Group, a digital marketing and web development company he founded nearly a decade ago. He published his first book, "101 Tips From The Marketing Masters," in early 2020.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Side Hustle

'The Work Just Fills My Soul': She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure 'Dream' Business

Kayla Valerio, owner of vivid hair salon Haus of Color, transformed her passion into a lucrative venture.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.