Time management is one of the skills that everyone is constantly trying to improve. Most people have a difficult time getting ahold of it, but even those who seem to have it all under control could still do better.
Tips & tricks when WFH
With the COVID pandemic disrupting lifetime routines and changing how, when, and where we work, time management became even more challenging, for even more people. Having to juggle personal and professional lives in the same place, at the same time, can prove difficult even to the most organized persons.
The goal of our article is to give you some realistic tips that will help you improve your time management when working from home.
1. Develop a new routine
Maintaining a routine while working from home reduces stress and helps keep your productivity levels up. Working in a predictable and controllable environment is important for mental health. A routine helps you have healthier sleeping and eating patterns. Include some physical activities on your daily to-do list and help your physical health too.
Treat work days the same way you did when you used to go to the office. If it helps you get into the role, you can even dress up. The best part is that you won’t lose any time commuting. If possible, set your meetings at the same times as usual, and don’t forget to take lunch breaks every day. If you have a family, you could all benefit from a routine that gets you together for the 3 meals of the day, and regular leisure time. Sticking to a routine creates stability for everyone around you, helping them know what and when to expect.
2. Schedule wisely
Plan your day around your energy levels. If you are anything like me and prefer the quiet of darkness and the light of the moon, schedule your important tasks in the evening. However, if you are a morning person who feels filled with energy and ready to conquer the world after a cup of coffee, take Mark Twain’s advice and “eat the frog” for breakfast 🙂
Of course, Twain’s frog is a metaphor for the most horrifying task of your day. The task that you feel tempted to leave aside and do at the very last moment, under the pressure of a deadline. Instead, take action and get it done while your energy levels are peaking. Then nothing that may come at you during the rest of the day will seem half as bad.
3. Include breaks in your schedule
Schedule each hour of your day so that it allows for a few minutes to yourself. Use that time to decompress, have a snack, check social media, or return those phone calls that you didn’t allow to distract you from working earlier.
If you are ready to implement some serious time management strategies, use the Pomodoro Technique to schedule your breaks. Plan your workday in intervals of 25 minutes, with 5-minute breaks in between. Every couple of hours take a longer break of at least 15 minutes. Check on your kids, do some chores, or take a power nap, then get ready for the next 2 hours of work.
Taking strategic breaks from time to time helps you focus more and getting into the flow when you need to.
4. Set SMART goals
SMART goals help you have a clear image of what you have to do and when to do it. It’s one of the best ways to plan mid-term and long-term targets. SMART goals should be:
- Specific: what are you looking to accomplish with this?
- Measurable: can you measure your progress?
- Achievable: do you have the right skills and motivation to make it happen?
- Relevant: is it worth the effort? Is this goal aligned with your long-term objectives?
- Time-bound: does it have a realistic deadline? What can you do today, a week, or a month from now to make it happen?
Now that you have a realistic plan for the future, you can schedule your days to include activities that bring this goal closer to fulfillment.
5. Optimize your workspace
You may ask yourself what does the workspace has to do with time management. Well, an organized workspace helps you save time and boost your productivity.
According to Harvard Business Review, our physical environment plays a major role in our overall well-being. It affects our emotions, cognition, behavior and it influences our relationships and decision-making abilities. Besides making us lose up to two hours a week just searching for stuff, a cluttered workspace increases anxiety and stress. That has a major impact not only on a personal level but also in the macro-economy. Workplace stress and related ailments cost businesses $190 billion every year in the US alone.
Avoid becoming a number in that statistic and start cleaning up your desk 🙂 Make sure to keep at hand all the stuff you need during the day. That’s the best way to avoid unnecessary interruptions.
6. Avoid distractions
This is time management 101 but it needs to be said: take active measures to avoid distractions. Keep a diary for a week and write down everything that interrupted and distracted you from work. Keep track of all your moments of procrastination and remove those activities as much as possible.
For example, if you find yourself checking social media every hour and browsing through your Facebook newsfeed, closing that tab might not be enough to prevent you from repeating that action. Instead, you can use apps that lock social media both on your PC and phone. Schedule the times when you are allowed to unblock them, during your breaks.
Planning is everything in time management
Managing your time while working from home may be a challenge, but you have the tools to conquer it. It’s all in the planning: plan your days, your weeks, and your months!
Once you have a healthy daily routine, everything seems much easier. Stick to your calendar, set SMART goals, and avoid distractions to keep your productivity up. And don’t forget to clean your desk and take a break to decompress from time to time. Good luck!