Working from home has left many people with a new challenge: learning how to work again. After years in an industry, it can be jarring to develop new work patterns or transition to a new schedule.
For those still working in an on-site office setting and for those working at home, it is a common complaint that there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, with a few organizational steps, you can make the hours you have count even more.
The most important thing you can do, especially if you are working from home, is to create routine. Consider even writing it down in a journal or scheduling it through your online calendar. It is very easy to get pulled away by side projects or little fires that need to be put out, but it is important to keep a consistent routine of work.
Not only does this keep you from getting overwhelmed, but it allows for you to balance your work and personal life. Setting a hard stop time for work and then designated times for a quick email check will help you balance your priorities at different times of the day.
This also applies to times where you are not sure what is going to happen. Do you know you need to make a lot of calls during the day, but aren’t always sure who or for how long? Block out an hour everyday for calls and emails.
Do you know that you need to field questions from your employees or mentee? Consider creating office hours that are dedicated solely to mentorship and answering solicitations or questions. Blocking out time like this will help you from being distracted by every email that comes in and let you finish more tasks in a day.
Everyone has a time they work best. Finding that time will help you work smarter not harder. For many people they are most productive in the morning, so instead of spending the morning answering calls and shooting off emails, that is when they complete their most important tasks. Find the time that you feel the most productive and make sure that is the time you are scheduling the projects that require the most from you.
While the odd meeting may come up, make sure you are keeping your prime time to a few hours. That way the rest of your day can be focused on the nuts and bolts that get the job done. This will give you and your brain and break and make sure that your inspired hours are not wasted and your most important projects are getting the best version of you.
Writer James Clear talks about the idea of “half-work.” Half-work occurs when you are on a phone call and checking your email or you are typing up a report and switch to watch a video or listen to a podcast. Being engaged in your current task will not only help you complete it faster but complete it more thoroughly.
If you have a very important task that needs to be completed, block out time for it and put the cell phone in the other room or turn off your wi-fi. While these seem like extreme precautions, finding your own way to prioritize tasks and do them with your full intention will not only save you time, but produce better work.
This may seem antithetical to time management but taking breaks purposely and in a scheduled manner can help your day be more productive. Burnout is real and working non-stop for hours on end can lead to sloppy mistakes or low morale. Try to build breaks into your schedule and put them on your public calendar so they are not interrupted.
If you lead a team, it may be a good bonding opportunity to schedule a break for the team during the day. That way they know they can focus on work because a break is coming. Scheduling breaks also prevents those social media scrolling sessions that go from a quick look to 20 minutes.
Building a routine and managing expectations is the key to good time management. Allowing your workday to work for you will lead to higher productivity and better products at the end of the day.