Effective Time Management in a Remote Work Setting

time management

Whether you are transitioning to remote work for the first time or have been at it for some time, there is a high chance you will struggle with time management in a remote work setting. As it reflects in your productivity, there is that temptation to extend your working hours, but that will only further compound the problem. 

Remote Work Setting: Critical Time Management Skills

The struggle to optimize your time in a remote work setting may exist because you now have to work unsupervised which is a different model from what you are used to. At other times, it could be because you do not have an existing strategy to deal with the unfamiliar distractions associated with remote work. Whatever the case, learning and utilizing effective time management skills is sure to help you solve the problem. What are those critical time management skills for remote workers?

Time Blocking

Time is an essential commodity for all adults. It is limited in supply and as a remote worker, you have to make the most of it. One major way to utilize your time is by allocating every single second of your day to a specific task. This strategy is called time blocking. Time blocking involves breaking your working week into time slots. So, there is a planned time for every activity you do. In a way, time blocking also sets a limit on how much time you dedicate to any particular task. 

Time blocking is a critical time management skill for remote workers. Practicing time blocking will help you to get more tasks done within a specified time. This strategy also prevents multitasking which is a habit that promotes inefficiency. Note that time blocking goes beyond creating a task list and assigning time to it. It is more about prioritizing what needs to be done by first understanding what needs to go into each task. 

It is when you properly understand how long a task will take and what you need to perform in the real-world environment that you can properly prioritize, plan and chunk out time for it. This knowledge helps you to do tasks well and this excellence will equip you to attain high efficiency without rushing through your tasks.

Task Delegation

Very rarely are remote workers lone rangers. Most times, they are part of a team, a department, or a unit. If you are working with others on organizational goals and objectives, it is important to master the art of delegating tasks to utilize the time, especially if you are a manager or team lead. Working in isolation can easily make you feel overwhelmed and it is easy to encroach into tasks that are better handled by others when working remotely simply because other members are not as visible. 

Regardless of your position in the team or department, it should be clear to all what tasks each member of the team is responsible for to achieve the shared goal within the stipulated time. Sometimes, delegating tasks requires knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the team members so that each person works on what they are great at. A lot of remote teams are relying on this decentralized time management system to meet up with their deliverables.

Apply the Pomodoro Technique

Time blocking is pretty useful for mastering your schedule. But to actually complete your tasks, you need the skill to utilize your time. One such technique developed by Francesco Cirillo is the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique helps to manage each chunk of time dedicated to a specific task in a remote work setting. It involves breaking down each time chunk into a 25-minute work 5-minute break segment. 

So for every 25 minutes that you work on the task, you will observe a 5-minute break. After observing four segments which is equivalent to 2 hours, you take a longer 15-30 minute break off work. With this method, remote workers can stay productive for an extended period without feeling fatigued, bored, or exhausted. 

Set Boundaries 

Remote workers can only manage their time efficiently when they put the right boundaries in place. After allocating specific time chunks to specific purposes, you need to prevent encroachment. Whatever your line of remote work, you should be dedicated to the task at hand and work with a sense of urgency and commitment. 

Your priority should be to complete the allocated task for the day within the designated period. You can set alarms to indicate the time separated for work from other activities. By dedicating an alarm to the time you will start and close work for the day, you can maintain boundaries for each activity. You can also set alarms for breaks, lunch, and closing times.

Remote Work Setting: Critical Time Management Strategies

Time management skills are necessary to stay productive in remote work settings. However, there are strategies underlying the skills that are necessary for remote workers to understand. When you understand these critical time management strategies, you can customize your time management skills to prevent burnout and fulfill your schedule.

Understand Yourself

There is no one-size-fits-all time management strategy. You need to understand yourself first to even begin to identify or design time management strategies that will work for you. For instance, the Pomodoro technique is a time management skill regularly used by remote workers. But some remote workers have claimed that the work segment duration is too short for them, so they extend their work segment to 45 minutes and take a 15-minute break. 

They do this for the next 4 hours before taking a full 1-hour break. Even though they follow the structure of the Pomodoro technique, they worked out the details based on personal preference. Some people are productive in the early hours of the morning and they marathon their high-intensity tasks within those hours while leaving the less intensive ones for later. The goal of this guide is for you to generate ideas that can be adapted to your unique situation. 

Discover your personal productivity curve by studying different time management strategies, trying them out, and measuring your productivity. Tweak them as needed and find those that help you to get the most done with the least effort. You are free to overlay the suggestions you generate here with your ideas. Once you are able to achieve the goal of managing your time effectively. 

Get Rid of Distractions

When in a remote work setting, expect to be distracted and prepare against it. In fact, there is more room for distractions when you work remotely than in an office environment. You need a rock-solid strategy to maintain focus so that you can meet your daily objective. A basic strategy to manage your time is to work in a quiet workspace. Such an environment can be a rare find and so most people settle for their homes. 

If you will be working from your home, try to separate a space that mimics the conditions of a brick-and-mortar office. Ensure the workspace only features work-related items. If you can’t get a separate space for the home office, consider getting a divider to separate the office from the rest of the home. This divider can also generate the feeling that you are resuming work and closing from work. It is better to select a room with a door you can close. Another step to minimize or eliminate distractions is to use website-blocking software to avoid internet time-wasters.

Time Tracking Software for Remote Workers in 2023

Genuinely Disconnect from Work

Productivity tanks and burnout looms when you are always plugged to work. It can be extremely challenging for remote workers to disconnect from work, especially in certain roles that have to do with social media, PR, and others. But there must be a time of your day when your brain gets the message that you are off work. You need this escape to maintain a healthy work-life balance, good mental health, and steady productivity. Learn to disconnect from work and be fully absorbed in whatever non-work-related activity you are undertaking. 

Again, the strategy to achieve this depends on your person. Some people feel disconnected once they log off their company’s software, others are disconnected when they hibernate their PC but some remain connected even if they have done all this. Their minds will wander at the last email they sent and whether they remembered to add that attachment. They may also think about the next day’s general meeting and what they need to add to their presentation slide. Such people may need to physically change their location to disconnect from work. Find out what you need to do to disconnect from work when you are done for the day and do it.

Remote Work Setting: Building Remote Work Routines and Habits

Time management is important for remote workers because poor time management leads to its waste. It is bad when you spend so much time on your tasks only to achieve undesirable outcomes. When you learn to use your time productively, you will also enjoy the output that comes with it.

Structure Your Flexibility

Remote work often translates into flexible working hours, but with poor time management, flexible working hours have come to mean that many remote workers work extended hours. To others, it has come to mean that they always struggle to meet deadlines. The flexibility that comes with remote work has led to inattentiveness, multitasking, and other productivity killers. The best habit for managing remote work flexibility is to create a routine for your workdays. 

Structure how many hours you need to work each day and when they will be. Be as specific as possible. For routine tasks that you perform every day like checking your emails, do you do them first thing in the morning or go straight into the task for the day? Planning as specifically as possible will reduce your stress as you feel more in charge of yourself and your time.

Find a Stable Location

Remote workers tend to enjoy working across changing scenery, but such an approach is rarely sustainable. The safest way to manage your time is to have a base – a work home of sorts. Efficient time management does not support the “I can work from anywhere” mantra. Some options that provide such stability include your home (another description for remote work is work from home for this reason, plus, you can get some tax deductions), and a co-working space (if you find a nice and pocket-friendly place). 

Other options include cafes and libraries if you can guarantee that you will consistently find the right seat and it will be the desired ambiance. The important thing is to try as much as possible to work from your base all the time. If you meet any surprises when you do venture out, it will not be strong enough to keep you from getting work done because it was never your go-to remote work hub.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Remote workers automatically assume that working from home means they do not have to worry about work-life balance challenges. But there is a difference between being present and being available. While remote work can make you present, you can only be available if you take active steps to be. In fact, because it is so easy to conflate presence with availability, remote work makes achieving work-life balance more difficult. If you do not have a definite start and stop time for your workday, your workday may encroach on your off days and your colleagues may reach out outside working hours for work-related non-emergency issues. 

8 Common Challenges of Working Remotely and Their Solutions

To recreate harmony in your life and practically prioritize your work-life balance:

Create a schedule: Not only for your tasks but also for your vacations and days off.

Communication clearly: Notify your friends, family, colleagues, and bosses about your schedule where necessary. Let them know that your work hours do not intersect with your personal time. Highlight the exemption cases to ensure you leave no room for ambiguity

Be firm with your principles: Setting boundaries is the easy part. The important part is sticking with it. Ensure you are firm on your time management principles, especially when you rely on the cooperation of others.


There is a strong correlation between anxiety levels and time mismanagement. When you set or have to attain unrealistic expectations in a remote work setting, the first resource that is depleted without corresponding output is time. So, to manage time effectively, you need a strong sense of relaxation and self-assurance that can help you sustain discipline and commit to routines. 

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