Even though we’re 5 months into living through a pandemic, few have aced at adjusting to the new reality and successfully found a work-life balance. Yes, the global crisis brought along with it an abundance of time but disrupted routines simultaneously. Working from home seemed appealing at first but it has blurred the lines between professional and personal lives. And speaking from personal experience, that has inevitably affected my productivity. If yours has too, consider me giving you a virtual high five! Feeling overwhelmed with basic tasks is normal given the excess workload that’s now on our plate. And feeling bewildered with how to manage it all is understandable. Especially for working moms that are also managing their kids and work-from-home can get daunting. However, like there’s light at the end of every tunnel, there’s a solution to every problem as well. Time management has time and again proven to be an effective way to decrease work stress and make it more seamless, and managing time optimally in a scenario like this will also be a useful way to find a balance between your personal and professional life!
Easy yet smart tips and tricks to manage your time under lockdown, smartly:
1. Make a flexible timetable
A new reality demands a new schedule and it’s imperative to amend your old schedule accordingly. Work from both the ends—home and office, has increased two-fold, so it’s all the more necessary to stick to a schedule. Having a set schedule in place will allow your mind to get used to the new reality faster and hence, you will become quicker at your tasks. An increase in speed will further free up time for you in the day. Therefore, make a fresh timetable within which you include your work duties and home duties as well. Start with baby steps and make a weekly plan. This will allow you to make permutations when required as you will have a sense of how your week looks. However, working remotely with family around isn’t seamless and will demand your attention to various tasks that may not be in your schedule. This is why you must set a schedule that is flexible and will not restrict you from tending to other needs.
2. Start your day early and go to bed early
Working from home has saved us our daily commute which would take a major chunk of time for some. But that does not mean you don’t utilise those extra hours for your benefit. Therefore, don’t waste the time that you otherwise wouldn’t have and begin your day early. House chores can be mentally and physically draining after a long day of work. So, get whatever it is that you can out of your way before you sit down to work. What’s more is, if you happen to have house help around and don’t have the added pressure of home duties, utilise some of that time as ‘me-time’. Everyone complains of not having time for themselves given how work has taken up most of our lives in today’s day and age, so why not make the most of this time for yourself that you’d otherwise spend travelling?
3. Always begin with making a priority-based task list
I cannot stress this enough but having a daily task list in place is supremely helpful. When I first started working, I would not make to-do lists for myself thinking I didn’t need them, but I was proven so wrong when I gave it a shot. Having a sense of what your day looks like is supremely helpful because you can allocate time to each task accordingly. To make things easier, list down your duties for the day priority-wise. This will also ensure that you don’t miss out on any important job that you’d get reminded of when your day is almost over and you’re in an anxiety ball trying to finish it whilst also having no mental space to execute it. And finally, ticking off tasks on the list is so rewarding and satisfying that it ends up being a tiny morale boost to finish your next task faster! Try it, I swear!
4. Make time to exercise for energy and maximum productivity
If you didn’t make time to work out before, now would be a good time to start the brilliant experience you’ve been missing out on. Working out is addictive and for good reason. It may seem like a task at first but once you get on board, you’re going to question why you didn’t hop on the bandwagon earlier. It is a good stress-buster and will leave you tired by the end of it for sure, but will energise you mentally. Even squeezing in 15-30 minutes is sufficient to get going. Do it daily or thrice a week, including exercise in your routine will help you in a myriad of ways—better sleep, physical flexibility, a sense of accomplishment, help you avoid procrastination and finally, escalate your productivity overall.
5. Set realistic deadlines
Deadlines can be motivational pushers and mental drainers as well. Yes, every task must have a deadline but one shouldn’t meet it at the cost of their mental health. For this, it is best to not have deadlines that seem unrealistic and require you to forget your personal life. Having deadlines that seem impractical to meet will instead increase your work furthermore. How? You will subconsciously be worried about not completing the task on time which will affect how you execute it. This will, in turn, make room for mistakes that you otherwise could have avoided and further require more time to rectify them. Anticipate the approximate amount of time you will require to complete a task and leave some buffer time to improvise or correct mistakes. Setting realistic deadlines won’t leave you feeling washed out as opposed to setting time limits that will completely exhaust you physically and mentally.
6. Communicate effectively
Effective communication is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Unless you speak, the opposite person will never understand your problem. And it is all the more important to communicate better as remote working conditions don’t allow for face-to-face communication and things could get lost in translation. What I mean is that sometimes you might have an emergency or simply an urgent task that needs your attention which will take up a good amount of your time. This might result in you not being able to deliver your work needs on time. In a situation like this, it is best to inform your manager to avoid misunderstandings or unnecessary hassle. This will allow you to get to your task peacefully later and also let you finish it rather faster. As mentioned above, working with a calm mind will save you time than working with a stressful mind which will prolong your job.
7. Include routine breaks so as to give your brain rest
Don’t be in a rush to tick things off your checklist. Two simple reasons why: hurrying through a task will likely cause you to make errors and secondly, not let you deliver your best result. Giving timely rest to the thinking machine of our body is extremely important in order to not get burned out. Because if you’re burned out, your output will get affected drastically which will consequently affect your tasks and simply demand you spend more time on one task. So they could be 5-minute breathers or 20-minute ones, don’t hesitate to give yourself a break.
8. For women with kids, plan a timetable for the children as well
Working moms of kids that need constant care—worry not, we have a fix for you as well! Fairly easy and only requires to map out your child’s day or week. Ensure that you indulge your kids in activities that keep them engaged without causing you disturbance like reading time, play-time, art and craft etc. Kids under a certain age can be major distractions when at home 24/7. Therefore, while planning your day and week, plan theirs too. Once planned, hand it over to them and ensure that they put it in practice by themselves (with your help the first few times, of course!). This way, you’ll be able to avoid any unnecessary distractions.
9. Set flexible boundaries to avoid distractions
Working from home is equivalent to having unavoidable distractions. To tackle this situation, set clear boundaries for yourself and for your family members. For this, make a space for yourself that is away from the home chaos and one that will let you go about your tasks peacefully. Additionally, be firm about your rules and abide by them which lets others know that when you’re on your official time, you do not entertain any unnecessary interruptions. Unless of course, a particular interruption does require you to take care of it, which goes without saying.
10. Make use of tools that you think will help you
For many of us, simple tools help in organising our time better, think planners, notepads, pinboards etc. If you think you are someone that needs this basic stationery while working, then have it on your desk. These could simply be things you write important notes on, plan your day out on or sometimes scribble on. How will this help you with managing time? You will always have a view of things you need to complete before calling it a day and as mentioned previously, save you from the hassle of doing things at the last minute. If you’re not big on stationery and are more tech-savvy, download applications that are like virtual planners or reminders. Basically, our point here is that keep things that you think will help you be faster at your work, around while working. It could be anything! You do you, girl (and men)!
Time management will set you on a successful and happy path! Try out these 10 tips for a hassle-free work-from-home experience and let us know what techniques you use to manage your time effectively.
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