During these extraordinary times, many of us are getting a crash course in time management as we juggle meetings online with new tasks and duties on top of our regular obligations, in our various new "home offices" that we might find ourselves sharing with spouses, kids and pets. All with the added uncertainty and stresses that come along with navigating through this pandemic. So, we're here to help!
We've gathered up some great tips for managing your time effectively while working from home. Read the article in its entirety here - but here are some key points to understand in order to help set ourselves up for success:
- Embrace that meetings are increasing.
We've all noticed it...meetings are on the uptick. Without the ability to have the organic conversations that in-person offices allow, virtual meetings, whether impromptu or scheduled, will be the lifeblood of how people engage with one another.
- Pay attention to fragmented time. Fragmented time occurs due to the small pockets of 15 to 30-minute blocks of time that exist between scheduled meetings. These can work well as breathing space, if planned for intentionally. People tend to schedule us for meetings based on what works for them and the open space they spot in our calendars. But that may leave you very little time to actually get work done and the fragmented time ends up sucked up in busy but unproductive activities. It’s important that you get intentional about the ratio of fragmented to focused time you allow in your schedule.
- Hone your boundary setting skills.
With managing your work time and space along with the kids' distanced learning or homeschooling, you've probably found that having a solid structure to your days really helps! On the work side, a good start to boundary construction is to discuss with your manager and team members what hours should be focused time and what needs to be available for meetings and impromptu calls.
- Proactively manage your calendar.
Rather than leaving your calendar at the mercy of others to populate, set your time up to support getting work done. Prioritize the time you allot to complete your projects, tasks and obligations as a commitment and not tentative open space.
- Don't add to the "meetings and managers" obstacles to getting work done.
It’s tough to balance how much is too much when it comes to meetings when managers have to consider the need to connect with their teams for morale reasons, to gauge engagement and productivity and to simply keep their teams updated. The best solution is to come up with a short list of meeting rules of engagement that everyone abides by. Work with the team as a whole to determine the best frequency and purpose of meetings to set everyone up for success.
- Manage your work from home guilt.
It’s easy for someone to get caught up working from morning till night when already at home. At least in the office, there’s the element of needing to go home to get some sleep. The other side is the concern that we don’t know how to show up in a way that keeps us visible to the powers to be. Our guilt can drive us to work longer hours in hopes to show our usefulness. But that’s a recipe for burnout. Be sure to lay out clear office hours with your manager. Work to have the focus be on results vs. visible time on the computer.
- Prioritize energy management.
Pay attention to when you are the most productive and focused. It may be the first few hours in the morning, when you’re fresh from a night’s sleep. Or it may be towards the afternoon when you start to get a sense of what really needs to get done. Work to schedule your calendar to align with those energy windows. Discuss how to coordinate those energy windows with the energy windows of the others on your team.
- Lead with compassion.
If you’re a manager, it’s easy to get obsessed on whether people are taking advantage of this time at home or actually working. As mentioned earlier, these are strange and stressful times. Now is the time to extend compassion, assumption of good intent and a culture of support. Everyone is tackling this time with more than just work concerns. How you respect people’s need for time and privacy can make a huge impact on how everyone comes through all this and operates together on the other side.