Under normal circumstances, time management is something many workers struggle with. The sudden shift to remote work setups due to the coronavirus pandemic has made managing time and staying on top of tasks an even bigger challenge. It’s hard to fully focus on work when there’s a million other things clamoring for your attention, from your kids demanding a snack every two hours to the ever-growing pile of dishes in the sink.
These tips will help you better manage your time and stay on task when working from home.
Establish a Routine
Having flexible working hours is one of the top benefits of remote work. You can pick a schedule that works best for you and make adjustments to it as needed.
But flexible time management shouldn’t mean unstructured. Establishing a routine will bring some order into your workday. Keep your schedule as consistent as possible across the week: wake up, start work, take breaks, and end your shift at roughly the same time every day. Having a regular schedule will help put you into the right mindset for work and get things done efficiently.
Informing your kids or other members of your household about your work hours will also help you stick to your schedule. If they know when to leave you alone, there’ll be fewer distractions throughout your workday, so you’re free to concentrate on work.
List Down Your Tasks
At the start of each workday or the night before, sit down and make a list of your tasks. You can use a pen and paper or any of the plethora of to-do list apps available such as TickTick and Todoist. Whichever way you choose to go about it, making a to-do list will give you an overview of your tasks, help you figure out how much time each one would take, and identify which ones need to be prioritized. Block off a certain number of hours for each task. At the end of the day, adjust your time blocks to accommodate any unfinished tasks and any new ones that have come in.
Grouping similar tasks together will also help you get through your to-do list faster and streamline your time management. For example, set aside an hour or so for replying to emails. Likewise, if you need to need to call three clients, make the calls one after the other instead of leaving the others for later. Grouping tasks together not only clears small tasks from your list, but it also keeps you from skipping from one type of work to another, saving you a lot of time and effort.
Make Time for Personal Tasks
When making your to-do list for the day, don’t leave out personal tasks such as errands and household chores. Factor these into your workday and block off time to accomplish them — it can be during your lunch hour or at the end of your shift. Making time for non-work-related tasks keeps you from having to worry about them while you’re working, knowing that you’ll have enough time to get them done too.
And don’t forget to schedule your breaks and actually take them. Far from being a time waster, taking regular breaks allows your body to replenish your energy and mental resources so you can work more effectively.
According to Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts of Technology whose research focuses on the neural mechanisms of cognitive functions such as memory and attention, the human brain isn’t wired for multitasking well. This means that while it’s possible to do more than one thing at once, you shouldn’t expect good results. Instead of helping you accomplish more, multitasking can actually lower your productivity and the quality of your work.
The key to doing more and doing well at work is to focus on one task at a time. Finish one task before picking up another. Don’t let small tasks interrupt big ones — even the two minutes it takes to answer a colleague’s question can interrupt your flow and keep you from completing a high-value task.
Eliminate Time Wasters
All of us are guilty of wasting time at work — we gossip, play games on our smartphones, scroll through social media, watch cat videos, and find a myriad reasons to get up from our desks. These time wasters get us through the tedium of the workday, but they also keep us from doing our jobs. And now that a lot of us are working from home and there’s no one looking over our shoulders, it’s easier than ever to get distracted by these and other time wasters.
Identify the things that waste your time. If your biggest time waster is your smartphone or TV, turn it off. Take it out of the room where you work, if you have to. If it’s social media or non-work-related websites, block them. Use Freedom or similar apps to keep you from accessing certain websites during work hours. You’ll find your time management skills optimized by removing these distractions.
Time is a valuable resource for small- and medium-sized businesses, and no one understands this better than Integris. We offer a comprehensive range of business IT solutions that will help your business make the most of its time for maximum productivity and profitability. Email us at [email protected] today.