Jori Hamilton https://twitter.com/HamiltonJori 6m 920
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Time management is one of the most critical skills for the 21st-century worker to master. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a company, running a warehouse, working in an IT department, or laboring as a chef in a five-star restaurant, if you can’t manage your time, you’re going to have problems
The coronavirus pandemic has shed new light on one of the more unique areas where time management can be a struggle: working remotely.
The Unique Distractions of Working Remotely
Remote work is a fascinating professional situation. On the one hand, it can save you significant time by enabling you to eliminate your commute, avoid unnecessary workplace conversations, and work at the times of the day when you’re the most effective.
However, as is the case with most things in life, there are also several significant challenges that are uniquely associated with remote worker struggles. With the COVID-19 crisis specifically pushing remote workers into work-from-home settings, the list of distractions can include shouting children, clamoring pets, and spouses and roommates who feel free to interrupt since, you know, you’re right there in the other room.
On top of that, the knowledge that your recreational activities and tools are all around you can make it tempting to ditch out on work in favor of doing something fun. It can even be difficult to get out of bed in the morning when you know that no one will be waiting to check in on you at the office.
In addition, the time that’s saved avoiding a commute is often burned up in extracurricular work-related activities, like being your own IT support staff. Setting up and managing a VPN or taking the necessary steps to protect your work equipment from an information breach can soak up hours of precious work time.
Developing Your Time Management Skills as a Remote Worker
There are many ways that remote work can test your time management skills. If you’ve found that your abilities in this area are lacking, here are a few suggestions for simple ways to up your time management game.
Stay Organized and on a Schedule
Remember to always stay organized and on schedule. Organization is a critical time management element that includes essential working-from-home basics like keeping a decluttered space, maintaining routines, and setting boundaries — many of which are covered in greater detail further down.
Another key to proper organization is keeping an updated schedule. Scheduling is essential for your remote work survival. A good schedule can help you keep tabs on what is expected of you as well as remind you about deadlines and help you prioritize your activities.
Stick to Routines
Routines aren’t just a way to help you get up in the morning or remember to take your vitamins. They can also provide a critical sense of structure and focus throughout your day. Morning and evening rituals are particularly important.
The former can help you wake up, get focused, and naturally spark some momentum at the beginning of your day. The latter can enable you to unplug, slow down, and get proper rest at the end of each day. Regardless of the specifics, routines are powerful tools in developing your time management capabilities.
Maintain a Variety of Different Goals
Remote work relies heavily on goals and objectives. It’s important to define clear expectations as teams go about their work from isolated geographic locations.
However, the benefits of setting goals go beyond collaborative project management. It can also be helpful on a personal level, particularly when it comes to managing your time. Having goals in place can enable you to stay focused and maintain momentum as you work.
Don’t be afraid to set goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual basis. Obviously, these should vary in their level of detail, but regardless, having a variety of different goals to work toward can be a pivotal factor in managing your time effectively.
Set Up Dedicated Spaces and Set Boundaries
If you want to properly manage your time while working from home, you must set up a clear, dedicated space where you can work. This is ideally a home office, but if you lack the space you should still mark out a corner of your bedroom or some other isolated area where you can focus when it’s time to work.
Then, set up clear boundaries for both work and life. Let your loved ones know that you cannot be distracted while you’re working. At the same time, make sure to unplug from work and leave it behind when you exit your space at the end of each day.
Manage What You Can and Make Peace with the Rest
In a certain sense, you can control a lot of things about a remote work scenario. From organizing a dedicated office space to structuring a schedule all the way to painting the walls blue for greater productivity, plenty of things are in your control.
However, at a certain point, you also must accept that some things are out of your control. You can’t expect your child to be silent all day or for the dog to never bark. Nevertheless, if you do what you can to better manage your time, you can make peace with the factors that are out of your control and still boost your productivity and efficiency.
The important thing is that you make an effort to identify those items that are under your control and then take steps to address them.
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