Working from home offers excellent opportunities to boost productivity. With so many types of team collaboration tool to choose from, communicating remotely is becoming almost as easy as it is in an office environment. But while good communication is key to remote working, time management is another important aspect to factor in.
When you’re working solo, it’s easy to get distracted or disengaged; both of which are highly detrimental to the quality and quantity of work produced.
If you’re a remote worker you are 100% responsible for your day. With no one else to guide you, you need to structure your time – and ensure you’re making the best use of it.
In this post, we’ll outline some remote work tips based around time management to help you make the most of your working day.
Get into the habit of creating a ‘to-do’ list
Write a list of tasks that need to be completed at the start of the day (or the night before). Use this as a basis upon which to tackle the day’s activities.
Include everything on there, including tasks you need to complete towards work projects as well as personal commitments. This includes grocery shopping, or going for a walk in your lunch hour. Include an estimate of how long each task will take and check each item off as you complete them.
By setting down your objectives for the day and ticking them off, you’ll build stability. And by creating patterns you’ll be able to identify whether you’re spending too much time on one task to the detriment of another.
Create new routines
Routines are incredibly important when it comes to self-motivation and management. Here are some ways to set new order to your day:
- Aim to get up at the same time each day, just as if you would if you were heading out to the office. Some people build in a mock ‘commute’ to help get them in the right mindset for work.
- Just as you wouldn’t wear loungewear to a meeting in the office neither should you look anything less than professional in online meetings. Don’t stay in your PJs all day – wear clothes you’d wear to work. This will help you get into the productive mode and make you feel more professional.
- It can be hard to switch off at the end of a remote day at work, so the lines between work and personal life tend to blur. Try to mark the time between work and play by booking in a reading or exercise session at the end of every working day.
Multi-tasking may on the face of it look like a good idea. In theory, it presents the opportunity to get two things done in a shorter time. However, science doesn’t agree. The brain takes 15 minutes to refocus when you switch tasks. If you concentrate on two or more things at the same time, your mind is continuously shifting focus and this can harm your productivity.
Some studies report that subjects who multitasked experienced significant drops in IQ – even to the levels of people missing a night’s sleep
Focus on one task at a time and complete each task before you move onto the next one. This will lower your distraction levels and you’ll complete each more quickly than if you did them all at once.
Stop surfing the web
Web surfing can play havoc with any effective time management plan. When you’re working remotely you’ll more than likely use the internet as part of your job. It’s incredibly easy to succumb to the temptation to stray to non-work sites. Maybe because an advert caught your eye, or you feel the need to catch up on social media.
Doing this can lead to a significant amount of wasted time.
Hold yourself accountable and use a tracking app to check how often you’re heading to non-work-related sites. Or use a ‘work only’ computer and block your favorite distracting sites.
Create a dedicated workspace
Make sure you have a quiet, clutter-free environment in which to work. This could be a table, desk, or summerhouse. Don’t work from your bedroom or the sofa – they’re places you associate with leisure. Blurring the lines between work and leisure won’t make you any more productive.
Identify your productive periods
We all have certain times in the day when we’re at our best, productivity-wise. You will probably know when yours are. For example, maybe you’re more focused and alert first thing. If so, use this time to get on with harder tasks or maybe pencil in this time for remote collaboration.
If, like many of us, you get a post-lunch lull, use that time to complete routine items that don’t require 100% of your focus.
Time-blocking techniques can help you organize when to schedule specific types of tasks.
Take plenty of breaks
In the office environment taking breaks is a normal part of your routine. At home, there are no outside signals to tell you when to take a break. Plan to take a break every hour or an hour and a half, and aim to do some physical activity at these times. This will help refocus your attention and boost your energy levels.
Go for a walk or do a workout – anything to take you away from the screen.
Create time for social interaction
In the office, you had plenty of opportunities for casual conversation and social interaction. These are the things which help to keep us sane. When working remotely it’s a different matter. To stay engaged and motivated plan virtual video conferencing sessions that enable you to connect on a human level.
Building a good remote team culture is essential, too. So, keep up to date with the latest company news and plan to break out sessions where you can discuss each others’ expectations.
One of the biggest challenges facing remote workers is the inability to manage time effectively. From working overtime without realizing it to blurring the lines between personal and work time, there are many things that can get you off track.
Technology is a great help to remote workers. However, time management is an aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. To work smarter we need to develop new habits that not only boost remote team engagement but promote a healthy virtual working mentality.
About the Author:
Sam O’Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams