Time management is an important thing to master throughout life. It’s useful to everyone, no matter their age, job, or skill level. Time management, though, is especially necessary for remote employees that don’t have anyone physically watching over them. Finding motivation while working remotely presents unique challenges. Many people struggle more than ever to efficiently focus on video conferences, projects, and email exchanges. Social psychologists have known for decades that people are motivated to work harder when others are watching. When being observed, people run faster, are more creative, and think harder about problems.

Time management is more than managing the day’s minutes and hours, but also managing your mood, your priorities, and your expectations of yourself.

Why is Time Management Important for Remote Workers?

Working remotely is productive and convenient. When done correctly, it offers flexibility and an ideal opportunity of work-life balance. To be able to successfully make the most out of remote working, however, you definitely need to possess a few specific skills. One of these essential skills is time management.

On average, employee that work remotely gain about an hour daily that would otherwise go to long commutes and daunting traffic. This extra time is potentially a great opportunity to channel that time and energy towards a hobby, cooking meals, or simply spending time with friends and family. But without good time management strategies, it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself working when you should be doing other things, or getting distracted during that family time because you didn’t complete what you needed to today. Without time management skills, studies show that remote workers are much more prone to overworking themselves and eventually burning out.

How To: Time Management for Remote Employees

Approaching the skill of time management as a remote employee is a bit different than how you would approach it in the office. Since you are the only one watching you and keeping you on track, you have to have a lot of self-discipline and make sure to stay on track.

Grouping like tasks together can make it easier for you to stay focused for a specific amount of time. If you group all of your similar tasks together and schedule a break in between, you can press through the like tasks and have something to look forward to at the end. Doing specific tasks in short bursts can be very helpful to keeping your focus and not feeling restless or overworked in your own home.

Making a to do list at the start of your work week and at the start of each day is a great way to stay organized and stay on task. Being able to physically see everything you need to accomplish can make it easier to allot time slots for certain projects, while staying on track to complete everything you need to get done.

Work at the time that is best for you. The best part about working remotely (besides not dealing with traffic), is that as long as your boss is okay with it, you can work around your own schedule. While of course leaving time for meetings, phone calls, and conferences, you can work depending on when you are most productive and focused. If you know you are an early bird, there’s nothing wrong with logging on before anyone else is awake. If you work best at night, check in with your team for a bit during the day, then buckle down on your personal projects after dinner. Really find what timing and schedule work for you, and utilize it!

Time Management Must Have Tools

Although it’s ultimately up to you to work on your time management skills and stay focused, there are many applications and items that you can utilize to make it easier on you. Having a communication app is a very important thing while working remotely. Not only to stay on the same page as your fellow coworkers, but also to let them know what you’re up to. If you don’t want to receive any phone calls, set yourself to busy or do not disturb. If you’re stepping away for a while to refocus and relax, send a quick message in the app that you’ll be back online in a little bit. Communication is key all the time, but especially when working from home.

Utilizing a website blocker or screen distraction minimizing tool can be extremely useful if you find yourself getting distracted by social media, personal emails, or school/other hobby work on the computer. It can also be useful to sign out of your social media sites. Forcing yourself to manually type in your user name and password on your computer will give you an extra second to ask yourself: “Do I really need to be looking at my Facebook or Twitter stream right now?” The same applies to Gmail or Facebook chat features. Stay invisible or offline until you’re sure you have time to chat with people—or risk the constant dings of conversation taking you off track. If you need help staying offline, check out these 8 website blockers for productivity & focus.

Another helpful practice is limiting email/notification noises on your computer and cell phone. Unless it’s extremely urgent, or you are expecting someone big, you don’t need to be checking your inbox every time something new comes in—which is exactly what that loud “ding” makes urges you to do.

Using a calendar that your coworkers can see will help everyone stay aligned. If someone sees you are in a meeting, they are less likely to bother you. You can also block out your calendar for lunch breaks, mental health breaks, if you have to log off early one day, etc. This will keep everyone on the same page and lessen your chances of getting distracted in the middle of your break, or getting fatigued by overload.

Time management is truly your best secret weapon to combat burnout, work-life imbalance, and poor performance. If you’ve only ever worked in an environment where your scheduling and tasks are dictated by someone else, it can be pretty difficult to crack down and discipline yourself and your time management. But with these tricks and tools, you’ll be a time management champion.