For most of us out there, COVID has ushered in a new (hopefully brief) era of working from home. With it comes challenges we never had to face in the office, like the temptation of your favorite TV shows, the idea that you can prep for dinner and work at the same time, and, for some, kids. Now more than ever we are in dire need of solid time management skills to lean on when the distractions are overwhelming.
Even efficiency experts in the office may need some guidance when it comes to mastering the WFH routine. Here are some helpful tips to reach high performance at home.
An easy way to manage your time effectively is to map it out before the start of the day in the form of time blocking. If you’re new to time blocking think of it as a to-do list with time associated with each activity.
Whatever your job may be, you generally will have day-to-day tasks that don’t vary. For marketing, your time blocked schedule may look something like this:
8 am – 10 am: Write content for the website
10 am – 10:15 am: Walk around the neighborhood
10:15 am – 12 pm: Create email drafts for approval
12 pm – 1 pm: Lunch
1 pm -2 pm: Respond to emails
And so forth, until your entire day is planned out. The trick is sticking to it. If you have a time of day planned for writing, don’t even open your inbox. Set aside everything but the task at hand. This might feel strange, like you’re neglecting tasks, but really you are giving each task the attention it deserves. In the long run you will see how much more efficient you are when you aren’t multitasking.
Within your time block schedule you should prioritize your tasks. However, how you distribute the most important tasks throughout the schedule is a personal decision. Some people are most efficient first thing in the morning, so they should put their highest priority in the beginning of the day. Others work best in the afternoon. Their time blocked day should focus on the important tasks after lunch. Make sure you are optimizing your day to fit your needs.
Just because you are working in a home office for one, it doesn’t mean you’re alone. Your team is just a chat, email, or call away. If your plate is feeling overly loaded it’s time to delegate tasks. Your team is also there to support you through the home office transition. The workload you’re accustomed to in the office may now feel overwhelming with the added difficulties of simultaneously running a household. Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Schedule your breaks
Notice in my example of a time blocking above I scheduled in two breaks. Time blocking should include your breaks. Without them on the agenda, you will either work straight through the day and burn out or sneak in breaks sporadically and throw off our entire day. Breaks are necessary for working at your highest level of productivity, so don’t count them out as frivolous or a waste.
Time block for the kids
Make sure you’re applying the same rules to your children’s days. Time block their activities and post the agenda somewhere they can refer back to if they are unsure what they should be doing. This might feel overly controlling, but the kids are used to this from their schooling and it may actually bring them comfort.
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