Telework and Telecommuting a.k.a ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) has become the norm since onset of the pandemic crisis across the globe. This has called upon very basic attributes of human learning in managing the business, economy, and personal affairs. Like what our teachers and parents have been telling us to do all this long.
Time management has played a key role in growth of individual, businesses and eventually economies. Similarly, in this CoVID19 crisis “Time Management” is playing a pivotal role in business operations and service delivery. Professionally, when you work with little or no supervision, it is important to plan out activities appropriately. Especially, when you are used to doing certain things in certain ways. Personally, I have always had this mindset that my best performance can come out only when I am in office among certain people. However, never ending WFH my beliefs have started to change. I have learned how to manage distractions and efficiently use my everyday time. This does not necessarily mean you must manage every minute or try to force yourself to stay focused. Time management means recognizing when you have deadlines and knowing how long it will take you to finish a project or assignment.
Proper time management is a choice that we all must make in our professional and personal lives. Managing our time successfully can make the difference between completing projects and falling behind in our duties and activities, which can lead to disciplinary actions. Teleworkers need to be especially aware of their time management because they are responsible for their work and their productivity. Only they can know what needs to be done and how they can manage to complete it all.
Writing from my own experience, the following tips which I picked up from working from home for past 3 months on Time Management are following:
Build Flexibility in your schedule
There’s plenty of science to suggest flexible work schedules are critical for happier, more productive employees, and a more successful company overall. There are pros and cons to flexible schedules, just like there are pros and cons to a rigid nine-to-five job. But, as the study indicates, flexible schedules are becoming more typical nowadays. Good time management and building flexibility entails many benefits along with some compromises as well.
The benefits include finding time to spend time with family, reduce commuting time, help kids with their homework, indulge in self-care, avoid rush hour. This helps retain the best talents within the organisations and gives the sense autonomy to associates.
Difficulty in arranging team meetings, the distinction between work and life blur drastically and creating a bonded team are certain compromises one might face while persistently working from home.
Hence, one might have to come to terms with the working arrangement among teams. Newly formed teams should initially work out of office before shifting to work from home arrangements.
Time Killers are Efficiency Killers too.
Managing distractions has been an unaccomplished task for human race. This is no different to what we all are facing now in CoVID19 crisis. When all of us are working from home, schools are shut and we are all locked in home. When working remotely and away from other co-workers, it is easy to become distracted and waste time on minor things. Excessive phone checking, binge watching on Netflix and making personal messages/phone calls distract most of us from working efficiently to our jobs and assignments.
Take a few minutes every day to identify what actions or activities are distracting you through the day and wasting your valuable time. Give yourself a set time that you will not let these things distract you or take away from your current duty. You will be amazed how taking these small steps will improve your time management.
Free time to be wisely used
In any position, there are often slow times or times when there is not much work to be done. But time is our valuable asset and should not be wasted. One of the most over-looked aspects of time management is managing the extra time we may have. When the workday has slow times or periods of down time, do not use them as an excuse to goof off or take extra breaks.
Free time can be used wisely to invest in exercising, skill enhancement, reading or even blogging (in my case) to get our thoughts organised and become more effective individual. Please do not use this time in activities which give instant shot of dopamine to mind (like binge watching on Youtube or Netflix etc.) or even lying around in house. If you do not find anything, in that case talk to your colleagues to see if they need any help. Also talk to your manager to see if you could contribute more toward team’s objective.
Urgent – Important Dilemma
Pone of the remarkable US presidents, Prez. Eisenhower proposed a Urgent-important matrix which has been extensively used by many corporate and sovereign leaders of their time. It helps people to classify the activities which needs to be tend to first or can be delegated or planned or even eliminated. The following diagram helps you understand it much better.
The Glass Jar conundrum: Act of Prioritization
I’m sure most of you have heard of “The jar of life — Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” story. If you have not, here is a quick refresher.
A philosophy professor once stood before his class with a large empty jar. He filled the jar with large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full.
The students said that yes, the jar was full.
He then added small pebbles to the jar and asked again, “Is the jar full now?”
The students agreed that the jar was indeed full.
The professor then poured sand into the jar and asked again.
The students then agreed that the jar was getting full.
The professor then poured water into the jar and asked again.
The students then agreed that the jar was finally full.
The professor went on to explain that the jar signifies one’s life and we have drawn parallels to work life.
|Equivalent to the most important things in your life, such as family, health, and relationships. And if the pebbles and the sand were lost, the jar would still be full, and your life would still have a meaning.
|Plan each day around your most important tasks that will propel you toward achieving your goals. These represent your highest priority projects and deadlines with the greatest value, often important, but not urgent tasks that move you toward your goals.
|Represent the other things that matter in your life, such as your work, school, and house. These things often come and go and are not permanent or essential to your overall well-being.
|These represent tasks that are urgent, and important, but contribute less to important goals. Without proper planning, these tasks are often unexpected, and left unmanaged, can quickly fill your day
|Represents the remaining small stuff and material possessions in your life. These things don’t mean much to your life as a whole and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.
|In other words, schedule urgent, but not important tasks, only after important tasks. These activities are usually routine or maintenance tasks that do not directly contribute to your goals
|Represents the filler items of life which are not important but are still part of our daily lives.
|These trivial time killers are neither important nor urgent and take you away from working toward high return activities and your goals.
In summary, Time management is key to everyone’s life and especially in times when everyone is working from home and economy still needs top be supported and functional. This reminds us all those lessons which we had learnt in schools and university or even our parents. Hence, I urge everyone to assess their positions and change if necessary.