Many of us had developed a solid time management skill set pre-COVID.
Then came 2020 – curb ball was thrown.
Now that many companies have shifted to a work from home dynamic new distractions have emerged which may be rendering our previous time management skills ineffective.
Juggling parenting, a virtual school lifestyle and keeping the motivation alive is not always easy especially with the current blurred separation between office, home and family.
We have some tips to help you create a balance to your day to redevelop your skills, increase productivity and get back your sanity!
- Coordinate Family Schedules: It is essential to collaborate with anyone in your day to day life to better set expectations of how your day will go. We are all in different situations but creating and being aware of each other’s schedule will help alleviate some stress. Write your schedule out and keep it visible. Pro tip manages schedules virtually and shares it with all families involved.
- Stay away from your personal tasks: A huge downfall to working from home is thinking you can get EVERYTHING done during your work day. “Oh I can wash these dishes real quick.” “Might as well start a load of laundry.” These are things you couldn’t do in an office, so treat working from home the same. If you think of personal things that need to be done during your work day, like paying bills, make a note or a reminder on your phone and you can do them once you’re done.
- If you’re a parent you know all about multitasking! While you may be good at multitasking it could end up hurting your productivity in the long run. Typically your brain takes 15 minutes to refocus when you switch tasks. Once you multitask two or more things your mind is continuously shifting focus. Try sticking to one task at a time and switch your focus once you are done. You will be less distracted and may complete your task quicker than if you tried to do them all at once.
- Designating a space to work in can be a game changer! Keep your areas separate so you aren’t always bringing your work with you or becoming distracted. The kitchen is for meals and maybe schoolwork. The living room is for leisure or family time. Maybe you have a desk in your bedroom if there is no spare room to differentiate as your office. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you to allow differentiation. It will allow you to focus and be in “work mode” when needed and allow you to be in leisure or play mode the rest of the time.
- Get dressed! Dressing for the office will give you a routine and put you in the mindset to work. Being focused allows you to manage your time more effectively, and we all need that! Plus, it will alleviate the stress of your boss accidentally seeing you in your pj’s.
- Staying productive and not burning out can be hard to manage even while in an office setting. Continue to take breaks as you normally would. Add them to your schedule if you need accountability. Even a small 10 or 15 minute break to walk, have a snack, make a coffee, or even have a fun chit chat with your co-worker. This can make a huge difference in maintaining your productivity. Keeping track of your work time and break time will allow you to be more organized, meet deadlines and stay alert.
Working from home changes so many things, and one of those may be maintaining the typical 9-5 workday.
- Be transparent with your manager about your daily schedule and family obligations that are competing for your time. Life changes when you work from home and you may be more productive working a more sporadic schedule or nontraditional house. Regardless of what will work best for you, communicate openly and honestly with your higher up so you are on the same page about your work hour expectations.
Now that you have put in the work to create a schedule that works for you there is one more hurdle to overcome; unplugging from work at the end of the day.
Your work commute is gone and now you have to find the best way to be done for the day. For most people our cell phones give us access to all things work and therefore tend to become distractions.
Try setting an alarm to remind you to end your workday. Turn your computer off, and if you use a laptop, make sure it is put away so you’re less tempted to open it and check in. For some it may be helpful to include your work hours in your email signature or create and away message for after hours.
Written By: Morgan Henry