Time Management Tips When Working Remotely During COVID-19
Time is one of the main focuses when working from home, and also the first thing to get completely screwed up. Things rarely go as we expect them to, especially when dealing with a new environment and new policies and procedures.
Does this sound familiar “I need to have this project done for tomorrow, but now that I have access to all my files I can finish up after dinner”? Our external pressures have deteriorated as we have less direct contact with each other and our supervisors. Those who are lucky enough to have kept a paid position through this pandemic have encountered the bliss of a reduced commute and lunch prep time, but the absolute terror of being faced with our neglected pile of dishes and laundry while at work.
Hopefully some of these tips will assist you in determining what area you might need improvement in, or get assistance with through coworkers, management, or teachers/consultants.
Ensure you are absolutely clear on what tasks you are responsible for; lack of direction or clarity will lead to duplications and wasting time.
Think of your schedule as blocks of time. Every day you should have a block for lunch, a block for break time, a block for emails, and many small blocks to check your phone (to be realistic). These blocks can be adjusted and moved around but try to keep them in the same order and within the same time of day as closely as possible.
Find your scheduling style.
Do you like apps? There are hundreds of time management apps out there that are free or have free lite versions. Check out Hubspot’s top 16 article which tells you the price, availability, and features of each app.
Do you like physically writing things down and checking things off? Find an agenda that has your preferred amount of space to write your goals or lists each day. Currently I am in love with the erincondren LifePlanner, even though it is much more expensive than I normally would spend on an agenda (customized is approx. $80-$90), I will never go back to anything less. (No, unfortunately erincondren did not pay for this shoutout).
Since the pandemic hit, many of us have had the opportunity to get completely set up at home, with 24/7 access to email and our work servers. This has several effects, it can create efficiencies in your work, but the work-life-balance can quickly dissolve. Unless you own your own business, or work on-call, DO NOT CHECK YOUR WORK EMAIL after work hours. You can do it. I believe in you. Keep your personal and professional lives as close to normal as you can.
Discipline or Motivation?
Turn off your phone and computer alerts for emails and texts. Set aside a specific timeframe to check everything (work related) and change the sound for any alerts you might need for emergencies with your family, so you can rest easy knowing you aren’t missing their calls.
You will not always have motivation to do something, so you must have the self-discipline to start it anyway. That’s easier said than done of course! The point is to not rely or wait for sudden “motivation” before you start a specific task.
Thoughts to conquer:
“This isn’t going to be good anyway”
“I’ll do it all in 4 hours tomorrow morning”
“I don’t need to do it right now”
Text here. (I’ll fill this in later)
Just kidding. Procrastination is a very serious problem for many people out there. You’re not alone!
Try not to commit to large goals in your mind. Keep it small and achievable. Example: read that report for 5 minutes, then stop. This will allow your brain to get into the working mode and you’ll find it much easier to keep going than stop more often than not.
Make a list of the things you need to do today. Then make another list with the most important things to do today. Keep things manageable and attainable.
Deconstruct your tasks. Large goals can feel overwhelming, if the goal can be broken down into important steps it will be much easier to stay on track.
Stick to a routine, but don’t let the routine stick to you. Our brains are amazing things that allow us to create habits. Once you do something in a specific order and specific times during the day you will suddenly start doing it without even thinking!
Work towards an incentive. Example: Every time I check off 5 mini tasks I get to watch a Youtube video (under 10 minutes).
How organized are you? Especially with the combination of your work with your home office, which probably has all of your personal bills and paperwork scattered around it.
Spend at least 5 minutes at the end of each workday tidying up your space
Remove any clutter – such as a bowl with keys and buttons for some reason
Remember this should be an inviting area, so whatever style or décor you like, take some time to improve the space with some style
Do not start looking at office style pins on Pinterest
Last step: Give yourself a break!
You have been working hard trying to figure out your new situation. When something like a pandemic comes along and throws a wrench into your system, don’t give yourself a hard time when you don’t immediately adapt to a completely new environment.
Get up, exercise, eat healthy, and remember that managing your time is not always about work. Ensuring you have time for your family and friends is just as important!
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