Time Management, or the Complete Lack Thereof

As I sit here on my bed in my Harry Potter leggings with two sleepy schnauzers curled up around me, I fully admit that I’ve got quite the cherry gig going. I’m sure you’re all super tired of hearing me drone on and on about how much I love my new job, but I promise that bringing it back up is simply a way of introducing the main crux of this here post. Because yes, I now work for Yelp and being that Yelp’s HQ is located roughly 2,500 miles away in San Francisco, this means I have all the comforts AND challenges associated with being a remote employee.

Now, I realize I’ve already dedicated an entire post to the pros and cons of working from home, but I figure that it’s a useful enough topic (not to mention pretty crucially relevant to my life and stuff) that it warrants a little more focus. Particularly pertaining to how this epic change to my lifestyle is affecting my health and weight loss efforts. Because, lest we forget, the first time we played this game I had a standard (read: boring) eight-to-four-style government contracting job, which kept me on a very regular work schedule with a LOT of free time both at and after work.


And now? Well, I’ve already mentioned how time-consuming this job is. In a good way, kind of, considering the fact that I love what I’m doing. But the fact of the matter is that it is just SO easy to spend all of my time these days, well, working! You already know that my job involves planning and participating in lots of nighttime and weekend events, in addition to the many calls and meetings that I have with local businesses throughout the week.

yelp septemberfest-006

And since Northern Virginia as a region is actually quite large, it isn’t unheard of for me to end up driving out to meet with someone in Centreville and then head into Arlington and then back out to Fairfax in a single day.


So between all of that, plus the fact that the rest of my job resides primarily in the online realm and thus I can literally be doing work ALL THE TIME, even when I’m just on my phone, means it’s really, really hard to break away. And so here, in a nutshell, is simultaneously the best AND worst part about working from home:

You set your own schedule.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And yes, it’s absolutely rad that while I sometimes may spend an entire day running all over Northern VA, popping in and out of meetings, I also can schedule massage appointments for 2 PM in the afternoon or can spend half a day getting purple-ified at the hair salon on a random Tuesday. But having that much freedom also makes it pretty difficult for me, someone with admittedly weak self-discipline in the first place, to prioritize things like going to the gym or eating at regular intervals.


Because of the aforementioned HQ being on the West Coast thing, many of my colleagues and coworkers don’t get cracking until it’s noon over here. Which means it’s not uncommon for me to receive emails and notices as late as 9 or 10 PM. Which you wouldn’t inherently think is a bad thing, since I’ve never really been much of a morning person anyway and I do love being able to operate without an alarm clock, but it really does screw with my schedule, since the other people I work with here — my Yelpers, business owners, PR companies, media folks and whatnot — are obviously operating on Eastern Standard Time.

So by the time I roll out of bed around 9:30 AM or so (don’t hate me!), let the dogs out, feed them, brush my teeth, etc, there may already be a pile of work issues that need attention. So I immediately open my laptop and set to work on there, only to realize a few hours later (when my stomach finally starts to rumble) that I should probably eat something. Urk. Not so great, especially for someone who is a steadfast believer that eating breakfast is a key tenant of successful weight management.


And I know what you’re thinking. Just get up earlier, dummy! If I got up earlier, I’d be able to take care of all that morning stuff AND eat breakfast before getting slammed with emails and having to dig into my calls for the day, right? Weeeeell, kind of. As mentioned, I’m gonna have stuff to deal with until fairly late into the night anyway, so getting up earlier really just ends up extending my workday even further. So, therein lies the REAL solution: I need to learn how to STOP WORKING. To close my laptop at a certain time, to stop checking my email, to realize that there is like a 0.1% chance that something is going to come up at 9:30 PM that needs IMMEDIATE resolution and can’t wait until morning. Because if I mastered the art of not working, it would probably be pretty easy to get myself back on a regular home office schedule, the kind where I start and stop work at normal times. (At least on non-event days, which would be better than nothing!)

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, especially when you not only like what you do but really, truly want to be amazing at doing it. I mean, I’ve been trying for 10 months at this point to figure out the secret to shutting my mind off, flipping the “work” switch, and being able to find that delicious work/life balance, and so far… nada.

Alas, I’m just awful at self-regulating my work hours, and that is why I end up doing things like working on Sundays and obsessively checking my email before I go to bed. And just like I obviously stay on track with my weight loss best when I have the accountability of this blog and calorie counters like My Fitness Pal and a fitness tracker like my new Fitbit, I know that I need something to provide accountability for ensuring I don’t work myself into the ground. Maybe I should just set like 10 different silent alarms on my Fitbit so that it buzzes and scares the crap out of me (it does!) every time I should be doing something other than working, like eating breakfast or getting up from my desk to walk around.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that my lack of time management skills is one of the main reasons that blogging fell off the radar last year. And it’s definitely the reason that I still haven’t finished my second book (sorry guys…). And it is one of my go-to excuse for days I don’t make it to the gym or end up making some not so great food choices. “I’m too busy! I don’t have the time!”

I mean, even I know that’s BS. I just don’t know how to make the time. But I am working on it, promise. Maybe in another 10 months I’ll have made some progress, hahaha.


  1. I don’t know how I ever set this up, but my computer says the time out loud each hour. Its super helpful at night for me to realize how quickly time is passing “its 10 o’clock” always makes me realize its time to shut it down. You could also set an alarm clock near where you work on your computer at night and set it for a certain pm time. So you know you have to turn the alarm and your computer off. People who send 9 pm emails, would call if it were an emergency. They expect you to answer in the morning, not that night.

  2. I do a mix of working in the office and working from home so I find that I’m struggling with time management too, even when I’m in the office. I’ve had to set an alarm for myself so I’ll remember to eat on time. It seems silly but it really does help!

  3. Haha I am so excited for your next book! I TOTALLY understand not finishing it though- SO time consuming & trust me, I understand being busy! So hard to do everything 😛

  4. As someone who also works from home (but is totally a morning person), let me tell you, you are very right, getting up earlier doesn’t help. It just gives you more time to work/procrastinate. Unless you are way more motivated than I am.

    Quite honestly, the only way I finally figured out the stopping work thing was having a rough pregnancy. Come 4-5pm, I physically cannot work anymore. I have to shut down. I have to rest. At first, I was terrified that something would come up. I’d miss some opportunity or some emergency. But in 6 months of pregnancy, it hasn’t happened yet. There hasn’t been a single thing come up that couldn’t wait until I got back on my computer at 8am the next day. And the rare few times that someone else thought it was an “emergency” and was perturbed that I didn’t reply at 9pm, I just reminded myself that, to me, taking care of myself and Baby J is priority #1. Everything else falls behind that—including their “emergency”. And, after all, it’s not like we’re curing cancer here. This isn’t life or death. There isn’t a single work-related email that could come through after 5pm that is more important than my health.

  5. Rachelsays:

    So there is a blog/author/writer that I’ve read a bit of her work. She also works from home and talks about time management and setting boundaries. Check her out http://lauravanderkam.com/books/successful-people-do/
    She has an ebook about setting up a morning ritual to get the day started on the right foot.

  6. Sabrinasays:

    I usually get to work strictly from my office, but over the summer we had a busy stretch where I was working from home a lot to get the most out of my hours/minimal distractions of the loud people I sit next to.
    You probably already have a few things that you do, but I noticed that forcing myself to change and sit at the actual dining table instead of jammies on the couch helped me feel like that was where I worked, instead of the couch or my bed.
    The other big thing was switching my phone to not push notifications every time I got an email. I have to actively go in and refresh the mail app and even though its a tiny step, it sometimes acts as a little pause for me to realize I’m checking email yet again.

    But wait – you have HARRY POTTER LEGGINGS?!? Want. Neeeeeeeeeeed!

  7. Jennysays:

    It strikes me that you’re probably not talking about “being bad at time management” in the sense of “I’m bad at tennis” or “I’m bad at math,” because all of those things are things you can learn if you want to. You’re probably talking about being motivated to learn the skills and apply them, because as you said, you love your job and want to be great at it, which makes it hard for you to set boundaries. You might feel like setting boundaries is in conflict with loving your job or being good at it, which decreases your motivation.

    I would suggest (from personal experience) that loving your job and being great at it ABSOLUTELY MANDATES setting boundaries, or you will burn out and hate your job and need a new one. So learning the skills and applying them is sort of a job skill for staying with Yelp. 🙂

    • Gretchensays:

      Wow, I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. 100 points for Gryffindor! I *know* that I should be setting better boundaries, but I guess it’s almost like I feel guilty if I’m not always on top of this job? Like, it’s so great, I wouldn’t ever want to do anything to jeopardize what I’ve got! Which I know is totally messed up… hmm, lots to think about!

      • Aimeesays:

        This is so so true. Take it from a 40 year old who learned this the hard why by doing years of what you are doing now– and just, in the last 2 years, realized a work/life balance. I have my DREAM job as a Realtor and work from home- other than when I’m out on showings with buyers. I had to make MYSELF a priority. If I dont have my health- how can I be any good at my job? You are young now, but need to start preparing and taking good care of yourself and getting into healthy habits for the years to come. Your boyfriend seems fabulous! I’m sure you have marriage and kids in your future– you dont want to go into pregnancy overweight b/c there are so many women that do and then never get out of that cycle. Everything you are thinking about now you should– my recommendation is to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later. Kudos for having a job you adore– now bring it full circle and have the peace with your body and adore that 🙂 good luck!!

  8. Jensays:

    I’m just going to echo what a lot of people have said- as someone who has worked from home and in an office, I definitely sympathize with time management struggles. Establishing a routine is the BEST thing and inserting time for yourself to eat, pee and workout are musts. I think setting your fitbit to buzz and remind you to get up and walk around or eat or do whatever will definitely help! And as someone said- there isn’t going to be an “emergency” that can’t wait so agreeing to shut down your email after x o’clock is something you’re going to need to learn how to do. We’re not saving the world 😉

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