Ways to Save Time and Stay Organized While Working From Home

Updated on: by Erica Martin

Get Organized

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When you’re working from home it’s important to find ways to save time and stay organized  so that you can focus more on your work and less on outside distractions such as email.  In this blog post, I’ll be discussing ways to save time and stay organized while working from home, which will ultimately help reduce a lot of the stress work from home professionals experience.  Some of these methods are discussed in the book “Bit Literacy,” by Mark Hurst  – please note that while I’ll be referring to his book and some of the ideas he discusses throughout this post,  I am not being paid by Mark Hurst or his company, Creative Good, for mentioning the book – I just think it’s an excellent book and wanted to share some of the things I learned from it, and how they can be applied to working from home.


Get your email inbox count to zero, every day.

This is one of the first things Mark Hurst discusses – one source of stress for many people, including those of us who work from home, is the number of emails in our email inboxes, both read and unread.  One way to relieve stress as well as save time is to keep your email inbox (or inboxes, as the case may be) as close to zero as possible – preferably at zero.   After I read this section of his book, I immediately went to my Yahoo and Gmail inboxes, and decided what I wanted to do with all the emails I had in my inbox – some of them got deleted, others got filed in the different folders I created, and some I sent to Evernote so I could read them more thoroughly and possibly use some of the information in articles I write on other sites such as Hubpages and Yahoo! Contributor Network.   Now I strive to keep my email inbox count as close to zero as I can every day – it isn’t always possible for me to keep it at zero, because there’s information in some of the emails I receive that I want to share with others – but as soon as I do, those emails get deleted or  filed.


Set a specific time, or times of the day for doing tasks such as checking emails or returning non-urgent phone calls.


I usually check my Yahoo email inbox twice a day – once in the morning and once at night, after I’ve finished my work for the day (although as many of you know, a work at home professional’s work is never truly finished until their head hits the pillow at night).  As far as returning non-urgent phone calls, I try to do that on my lunch break, but sometimes if I get a break during my work day and I know the phone call is going to be relatively short, and I know I won’t be able to reach the person after business hours, I’ll return it during the day.


When you have several things you need to do during the day, make a to do list and check the tasks off as you complete them.


You can simply write down your to do list on a piece of paper, though Mark Hurst advises against this in his book because it’s not the “bit literate” approach,  or you can use a to-do list website, such as goodtodo.com, which is a bit literate to-do list website that Mark developed.  You can sign up at this website for free and get access to a lot of basic functions, such as adding items to and deleting items from your to-do list, re-dating items that you’ll need to do on a later date, and you also have the option to email items to your to-do list using words like “today,” “tomorrow” or a specific day followed by a long string of characters that Good To Do will assign @goodtodo.com.  Then you can go in and make any necessary changes to the to do for that date.  You can also sign up for a paid account, which gives you access to even more options, such as the ability to create to-dos from multiple email addresses (when you s ign up for a free account, you can only create to dos from the email address you register at the site with),  allow any email address to receive exports and subscriptions to daily to dos, allow you to create more than two categories for your to dos, if you choose to categorize your to dos, plus you’ll be helping to find the continued development of the site.


Learn the Dvorak method of typing.


 This method uses the Dvorak keyboard, which is keyboard that places all vowels, as well as the most frequently used consonants, in the home row, and the other less frequently used keys in the other rows.  Once you learn it, the Dvorak method is supposed to reduce the risk of RSI (repetitive stress injury) because your fingers aren’t leaving the home row as much, and it’s also supposed to make your typing speed faster.  I’ve begun learning this method, and it’s not easy for me, especially since I’ve been using a QWERTY keyboard for so long.  You can find printable Dvorak keyboard layouts online, as well as instructions on how to add the Dvorak keyboard in Windows – in Windows 7 it’s easy to switch between the QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards once you’ve added the Dvorak keyboard to your list of keyboards.  There are also many excellent free online typing tutors that provide exercises for learning the Dvorak keyboard.


Use a bit lever.


In “Bit Literacy,” Mark Hurst defines a bit lever as a piece of software that can “take small inputs and generate huge outputs.”  These outputs could include commonly typed words or phrases.  I’ve actually discussed a bit lever program in previous posts – Phrase Express.   You can use Phrase Express to create text shortcuts that will automatically type out long phrases that you use often, such as email signatures.  However you can also use PhraseExpress to create keyboard commands to open certain websites or programs. Microsoft Word also offers this option, and it is a huge time saver.

I hope this post has provided you with some ideas on ways to save time.  If you’re interested in reading more about Mark Hurst’s book, or possibly buying it, you can check it out on Amazon.
If you’ve got other time-saving tips you use, I’d be interested to hear them!

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November 23, 2012 at 2:29 am

All the tips seems easy to follow but takes time to turn into a habit. For now, I’m doing well in reading and deleting my emails every day. If I missed a single day, I’ll surely have lots to read the next day.

While I cannot switch to DVORAK, I can still practice QWERTY so I can type faster and try my luck in transcription.

For my list, I have my smartphone to jot it down. It is a challenge every day to improve time management and organizing. It may take some time but the reward is such a worth.

Now I’m curious about “Bit Literacy.”

Thanks for the post. And looking forward for more tips and your hubs which encourage me to write articles for Hubpages again.


November 27, 2012 at 7:26 am

Very helpful points. Having a dedicated office space can go miles in helping your small business succeed. Find an area in your home – it doesn’t have to be large – and keep all your files, documents, systems there organized. A proper sitting arrangement with a comfortable chair is required to carry whole day’s work.