by Seán McLoughney | Chartered Accountants Ireland | 9781912350469 | €16.99 | 25/02/2020
Being able to manage your time while working from home is more important now than ever. Seán McLoughney gives us key tips on how to manage your time effectively.
Planning and scheduling your time when working from home
Time management is a core business management skill which presents us with daily challenges. Organising your day so that you are as productive as possible isn’t easy because of the constant interruptions that occur in a normal working environment. In this current environment, many people face the additional challenges of working from home.
Effective time management skills ensure that you are more productive and efficient in your new surroundings.
Create a routine
When working from home, it is vital that you create a routine similar to the one you had when working in the office. Continue to dress for work and dedicate a specific space for your home office. Set a start time for working, which for some people maybe earlier than your office start time. This becomes your new start time every day. Also establish when you will take tea and lunch breaks. Finally, embed a ‘wrap up your day’ ritual into your new routine: close down your laptop, clear your desk and organise yourself for the next day. Wrapping up your day will help you to mentally switch from the home office to your home life.
Plan and schedule your day, week and month
Every day you encounter lots of distractions including phone calls, emails, coffee breaks etc; but the work stills need to get done. The home office, for lots of people, lacks the discipline of the work office. There is no one sitting next to you to stop you from browsing your social media feed or catching up on the latest series from Netflix. You need to start planning and scheduling important activities to ensure the right things get done consistently, keeping all your activities in the one place and protecting your time so that the important stuff doesn’t get dropped. Protecting your time for scheduled activities means switching off distractions, including your social media networks.
Move away from outdated ‘to-do lists’ and schedule important activities into your diary and ensure you complete them in the allotted timeframes. Your diary should give you a single view of all the important stuff you are currently working on. Using your diary to schedule tasks will ensure you can see what is coming down the tracks, such as busy times that may impact deadlines or conflicting deadlines. It allows you to take corrective action quicker and avoid missed deadlines. Reviewing your diary daily will improve your scheduling skills.
Maintain your drive and motivation
Identifying your energy levels and work patterns will also help boost your productivity. Your high-energy time is when you should focus on the most important tasks. In low-energy periods, focus on easy tasks, such as responding to emails or reorganising your virtual files.
When working from home, you should include in your daily plan some time for recharging the batteries – this is not a waste of time. Previously this happened naturally in the working environment through social interaction and tea/coffee breaks. It is a crucial investment in maintaining high energy levels. Schedule a virtual coffee break with your co-workers, get some fresh air or play with the kids. Switch off before switching back on again.
Sean McLoughney, founder of Learning Curve, is a sought-after learning and development specialist, author and speaker. He helps organisations improve the job satisfaction and productivity of their people. Sean is the author of Meaningful Performance Reviews and Time Management published February 2020, both of which are published by Chartered Accountants Ireland.