Time or Effort Management in remote working?
Time operates differently when working from home, doesn’t it? And depending on how you get your mind around it, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing.
It's no longer just time and space, it's MY time and MY space
In the office you are accountable and working at home you are accountable too, but not just to work. Remote working is the perfect incentive, but you need to build up from the basics.
Effort Management Tips
1. Everyone has a natural internal clock — a chronotype or circadian rhythm — that determines when they're most alert and most sleepy. What's yours? When are you most alert? The biggest external factor is exposure to light, especially sunlight. Remember to maintain your light quotient during the day - work near the window, get out and about and top up your vitamin D levels in the daylight. Start by colour shading your schedule with these high energy times. Perhaps even get a large calendar and stick it in front of your work space.
2. Days bleed into each other during remote working, don't they, and this can make it difficult to keep track of them, especially when time-sensitive projects are involved. Next, put the time scales into your calendar, not the tasks.
3. Meetings are something which we all have to accept as the normal day, but you don't have to attend all of them remember (a later topic)! Anyway, next shade in the regular meeting times.
4. STOP, stand back and look at your schedule! You only have 24 hours to a day. That's your time management done. Next we need to look at how much effort you want to put into that 24 hour period. Are you a detailed person who likes everything to be just perfect before you move on to the next task? Do you do many tasks at the same time? Can I suggest you get an old fashioned egg timer, wind it up for 25 minutes, pick a key task and work on it for those 25 minutes. Do nothing else. No checking the phone, or anything. What did you manage to achieve before the bell rang? So now you have an idea of how much work you can do if undistracted, don't you? You can now assign effort required to your priority tasks based on 25 minute bite-sized pieces? Check out the The Pomodoro Technique® for more detail. Now you can put your priority tasks into your schedule aligning them with your high-energy shaded areas.
5. It's a question of values. Remote working has highlighted to need to look inside ourselves and respect who we are and what we value. Going to the office was easy to detach yourself from the rest of life and focus on work, but now your life is all around you and you have to ensure you don't compromise your values. This requires collaboration and transparency with bosses and colleagues and an openness and negotiation of understanding that we've never really experienced before. We all must overcome the old feeling of being at home and not being productive because we walk the dog rather than read the email. Effort in one task leads to a more productive mindset in another area of our work.
6. A final tip: Include your work hours in your email signature or as a status/away message, if possible. That might help cut down on colleagues reaching out to you outside your work hours. We all need boundaries!