With more of us working from home these days (and for the foreseeable future), the value of self-management is real. Going remote is, unfortunately, not as easy as logging into a Slack account.
This is even more true when you throw a pandemic into the mix. The “new normal” is different for all of us, and what you need to be successful may vary from that of your co-workers.
Regardless of what your specific needs might be, there are tried and true tactics worth considering for steering focus in the right direction. Here are five ways to optimize your workday for getting stuff done.
Define Your Working Hours
Your previous working hours in the office may have resembled the typical 9-to-5 schedule. Atypical times call for atypical adjustments.
For example, if you have kids at home, your working hours may need to account for that. This might translate to core working hours set between 9:30 am – 12:00 pm and 1:30 – 4:00 pm.
The important thing is to be diligent about setting expectations and communicating them accordingly. Working from home doesn’t have to mean working longer days—unless you want it to.
Some people find solace and escape in the work they do. If that’s you, great. If that’s not you, also okay. It’s not as much about how many hours you work but the quality of your output.
Prioritize Todos Accordingly
If you’re someone who already practices timeblocking, this next piece of advice will likely come naturally. The key to making a todo list of items that actually get done is recognizing that not every todo is equal.
Each one will come with its own due date, time to complete, and connections to other todos and projects. When looking at what needs to get done on any given day, dedicate the first part of your day to todos with the highest priority.
Consider bookending your days with administrative tasks (e.g., checking email, data entry, scheduling meetings, etc.). You can then focus the bulk of your day on work that matters most.
Use Those “Do Not Disturb” Settings
Technology, for all its benefit, is incredibly distracting. Constant notifications and Slack messages can derail us—often unnecessarily—from the task at hand in mere seconds.
There’s this false sense of urgency that arises when we see an email or instant message come through. We feel as though we have to respond instantly.
The reality is that most of the messages coming through can wait. When you’re working on high-priority items or in a meeting, turn on your computer’s Do Not Disturb settings.
Similarly, mark yourself as Away when you’re not sitting in front of your screen. People on the other end will be more understanding of the delayed response when your status is communicated accordingly.
Remind Yourself to Take Breaks
When you’re in the zone, it’s hard to step away. And by all means, don’t disrupt the groove when it feels right.
With that said, also don’t feel as though you must be glued to your screen 24/7 in order to convince others you’re getting stuff done. That’s now how it works.
Set a reminder every hour to stand up and take 15 minutes for yourself. Do some stretches, read, journal, go for a walk, or simply put away the dishes. Give your eyes and brain a break, and your quality of work will thank you.
Go Easy on the Productivity Front
Productivity is something that looks different for everyone, especially right now. For some, it might mean working ahead of schedule while pulling a loaf of home baked bread out of the oven. For others, it might mean getting a solid two hours of work done while wearing not-sweatpants.
Give yourself some credit for what is getting done and identify areas that might be lacking. There’s a time for coddling and a time for doing what you’ve got to do. Try to strike a balance between the two.