While the latest guidance from the government has included advice on heading back to work, for a lot of people it’s still currently not safe or possible to do so. Remote working is therefore still a big part of many people’s lives, and even though it’s been several weeks, it’s still a problem area for a lot of workers.
Managing your time when working from home can be difficult. It’s easy to end up blurring the lines between work and home, and you could find yourself checking emails and working late into the evening. On the opposite end of the scale, it’s also easy to spend work time on personal tasks or chores - which results in a huge drop in productivity. The secret is to manage your time effectively by doing the following:
Make a To-Do List
The easiest way to get organised for the day is to make a to-do list the night before. You can do this in one of the hundreds of organisation apps or software programs, or you can keep it simple with a good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Include everything you need to do, and then separate it into two categories; work and home. Estimate how long each task will take, and remember to keep it realistic and achievable.
Trying to order groceries online whilst eating your lunch and scrolling through your inbox might make you feel super productive, but it’s actually proven that multi-tasking is one of the biggest productivity killers around. Your brain is equipped for mono-tasking, and studies have shown that less than 3% of us can effectively do multiple things at once.
Trying to divide your attention will leave you overwhelmed, unfocused and has negative effects on memory. It’s far better to concentrate fully on one thing at a time and complete your tasks effectively, and to the best of your ability.
Use a Time-Management Technique
If lists just aren’t cutting it, and you need some extra help in the time-management department, you should definitely check out more specific and scientific techniques.
The Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1980s, involves dividing work into 25-minute intervals which are separated by short breaks. It’s thought to work because when you’re aware of limits on your time, you tend to focus more intensely and become more productive.
Alternatively, you could look at the Eisenhower Matrix, which will help you decide which tasks are urgent and need your attention immediately, and which can be considered longer-term goals.
Create a Routine
Working from home often means that you’re suddenly stripped of the usual routine that makes you feel more productive. Developing a new schedule for your time is absolutely vital, and if you’ve spent the last few weeks completely adrift, it’s time to make some changes!
Try to mimic your daily work-routine as much as possible; get an early start, set regular working hours with proper breaks, and don’t be tempted to blur the lines between work and home. Make sure you work in an area away from the television, so you’re not tempted to switch Netflix on in the background - your boss wouldn’t allow Stranger Things to be playing in the office!
The worst thing about working from home is the seemingly endless distractions; family members, well-meaning neighbours, the postman and that permanently pinging email inbox can all hinder productivity hugely.
Try working in a room with a door that can be closed, and don’t be tempted to chat to family members or housemates for long periods of time. Remove social media apps from your smartphone, or install time limitations, as this is one of the biggest time wasters. Finally, don’t be tempted to work on personal tasks during work hours - keep them for your downtime!