One of the biggest lessons I learned throughout my career is the importance of time management. By effectively managing your routine you will be able to get a lot more done in a lot less time.
The spread of the new COVID-19 virus has had a great impact on the world and how our society functions. All of us will need to cope with a new way of living in the weeks and months ahead.
Many businesses have already implemented a remote work policy for their staff. And so a record number of people now find themselves facing a new work program without being given much notice, formal procedures or training.
Working from home for the last couple of years now, I can attest to how a little preparation can go a long way in terms of productivity. And with this new-found flexibility, you will be able to secure more time for yourself.
Here are 5 tips on how to effectively manage yourself and stay productive when working from home.
1. Get Ready For The Day Ahead
I cannot stress enough about the importance of having a morning routine and how it changed my life.
All the actions you take to get yourself ready to go to work setting the alarm at the same time, taking a shower, having your breakfast, getting dressed – helps to prepare your mind for the day ahead. Doing all these things in the same order and at the same time, every day now that you are working from home builds to build a mental association with the idea that you are going to work.
That’s why it’s important to keep doing all the things that you would normally do before going to work, including to dress nicely. It is also a good idea to dedicate the commute time that you save to physical exercise, meditation or writing a journal, rather than staying longer in bed.
2. Choose A Dedicated Workspace And Pretend It’s Outside Your Home
Working from home comes with many advantages: but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re new to it, working from home can pose a few challenges. An organized work station will help you avoid distractions from the home environment and will keep you focused so you can effectively complete your tasks.
Rather than working from your couch or at the kitchen table, try to prepare a quiet space that you can treat like your office. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, a small desk off in a corner will do. Keep everything work-related there: don’t spread things around the house. This is a place you will only go when it’s time to work. And when you are in your office resist the urge to start the washing machine or fold the laundry. Likewise, when you finish your shift try to stay away from your “office” space.
3. Communicate Your Plan To The Rest Of The House
Once you have decided to set watertight boundaries around your workspace, ask the rest of your household to do the same.
Distractions can kill productivity so it’s important to make clear your rules to housemates and family members.
It’s difficult to stay focused if your partner keeps asking you questions from the living room or your kids sneak into the room at any given opportunity.
To make home working a success, it also helps to align your work hours to your home environment. Schedule conference calls and tasks where you require utmost quiet at the same time your toddler is napping or your kids are busy with homework. If you are one of the lucky ones whose productivity peaks the minute they awake, then take advantage of the quietness while everyone else is still asleep.
4. Manage Your Time
When working from home it’s really important to learn how to manage your time. This means finding that balance between procrastinating and working non-stop.
Having structures in place is the key.
- Plan your entire week in advance. Keeping the big picture in mind and knowing what needs to be done ensures that you stay on track.
- Schedule your day into segments allotted for each task you need to accomplish.
- Work when you are most productive. No one has the same level of productivity and creativity for the whole day, so schedule your more difficult tasks at the time you feel your freshest and save routine jobs for when your motivation will start to lag.
- Establish your start time, break times, and most of all decide at what time you will clock out. Take all your breaks away from your desk. Go for a walk or have a quick chat or a coffee with someone else in the house.
- If you work on a team, share your plan with colleagues to make sure you have the right amount of time to get stuff done, releasing any pressure. At the same time, communicate with them the times you won’t be available. In my experience when I first started working from home this was a big problem as my colleagues felt they could message me at any time 🙂
In order to stay productive, I found that The Bullet Journal is a method that works amazingly well.
5. Curb Distractions
Just because your boss isn’t seated beside you doesn’t mean you should feel free to mess around on social media:). Social media applications are designed for quick and easy access and they are built to be addictive. Though social media makes for great virtual communities it is also the number one productivity killer.
A sensible choice is to make them less accessible. There are many ways to do it:
- Use one browser account for work and one for personal use, or if that is not possible, then remove all social media shortcuts from your toolbar.
- Try to cross off at least three things from your to-do list before checking social media. This alone most likely will take you closer to breaktime or lunchtime when you’ll have the time to check it.
- Do not keep your personal phone at your desk. If you do use it for work then be sure to turn off all notifications.
- Change your settings to leave the automatic login option off on your social media accounts. Login every single time. Tiresome? Well, that’s the point! And I strongly recommend the use of apps such as
- RescueTime or StayFocusd Chrome Extension.
Working from home during the coronavirus era isn’t by choice. However, we can use this opportunity to redesign our routines and re-shuffle our priority list to focus on what is important.
There are also challenges in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if we were used to walking or cycling to work and going into the gym. Don’t allow inactivity and easy access to the kitchen to be part of your new routine.
Make the effort to schedule a time for regular exercise and a plan for healthy eating (snacks included!). And drink plenty of water. Let’s use the spare time we have acquired from our cleared social schedule to declutter our homes, our minds, and our lives from all the excess of stuff we don’t need.
It’s time to be conscious of the importance of family and friends and to be thankful for the time we have with people we love.
In this very difficult time, we must find strength in this situation by taking the opportunity to understand what really matters and how we want to live.
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