“Time is the one thing in life that you can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
If there is one thing that has become the most important talking point in 2020 after the dreaded pandemic of COVID-19, it is remote work. I bet those who are working from home for the last few months (or the entire year) cannot agree more with my statement.
The fact is – remote work is no more a temporary alternative to regular, in-office work, as it was a couple of years ago. Now, it’s quite clear that remote working has become the new normal, and it’s going to be like that for long.
One of the main reasons why so many employers and managers have been apprehensive about remote work is because they are of the view that employees do not dedicate themselves (completely) to work while working remotely. Why? Due to the lack of direct supervision – at least that’s what they think.
I would not disagree completely with this perception because some employees may take undue advantage of this situation, but it’s more about the trust you have in your team and vice versa.
Another concern of both the employers and employees is poor time management while working from home, especially if you’re new to remote work. Since there’s a change in the environment you work in and you do not have your colleagues around you, you can end up juggling multiple household chores and official work.
The good news is that there are always some tried and tested time management strategies to help you utilize time efficiently and avoid time wastage. Now, remember that everyone is different. What works for one telecommuter might not prove useful and productive for someone else.
A lot of people who have never worked from home think that it sounds like a dream until they have to do it. Once they do it, they realize that without practising the best approaches for time management, it can be tough to deliver quality work on time.
Given below are the top tips for remote workers to help them make their work less stressful while increasing productivity. Implement them for yourself; you can even tweak and customize them just for you.
Let’s get started then.
1. Set A Work Routine
As is rightly said, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Even flexible scheduling calls for some structure. Setting up a work routine brings direction and stability to your workdays.
Work routine is also helpful to your colleagues and managers as they have clarity about your availability. You can make some changes to your routine once in a while, but your workdays are consistent overall, throughout the week.
Create an outline of your workdays in the following manner:
- Plan when you will wake up,
- Plan when you will start work, take lunch, have breaks, and end work each day
- Plan what activities you will do to relax and unwind at the end of the day
2. Track How You Spend Time
Alright, you can make all the notes about what activities you are spending your time on, but you cannot have a precise, accurate record of exactly how much time you spend on various activities and tasks in a day.
Therefore, you need to invest in efficient and productive time-tracking software to get a clear picture of your productive and unproductive activities. A good time tracker can show you exactly how much time you spent on every task, meetings, browsing websites, adding timesheets, setting time estimates, creating payroll, client billing, etc.
Using a good time-tracking tool can help you become more productive and eliminate time-wasters from your routine.
3. Don’t Mix Personal Tasks With Official Work
“I can wash utensils in quick time or take my pet outside. Who’s watching me over here? I can get the job done quickly and resume working.” This is a common thought of many remote workers; mixing personal tasks with official work. While it may seem quick to wash a couple of dishes, you end up adding to your domestic tasks.
You also put in a load of laundry, pay bills, prepare meals for kids, take out the dog, etc. Since your manager or owner is not overseeing you, you think it’s okay to do some personal stuff quickly. But if you wouldn’t do those things in an office, you should not do them during your working hours. You need to treat telecommuting the same way. You can do your tasks during lunch break or once you’re done for the day.
4. Take Scheduled Breaks
It’s one of the not-so-obvious time management techniques. FlexJobs’ annual survey found that 65% of respondents are more productive in their home office as compared to a traditional workplace, but that productivity can come at a risk of burnout. Without regular breaks, you’re setting yourself up to become a sitting duck to stress, fatigue, and lower productivity.
While you should be dedicated to your work, you should not forget to take scheduled breaks to avoid work monotony from taking over. Sitting in front of your PC/laptop continuously for hours can be detrimental to your productivity as well as your health.
You can take a 10-minute break after every hour or so to give your eyes (and body) a much-needed relief. You can use these short breaks to get up from your chair, do some stretching, have a coffee, or take a walk around your home. In other words, take short breaks to relax and walk away from your work.
5. Set Up A Designated Workspace
You have a designated workspace in your regular office, do the same while you work from home. Do not work from your bed or crouch, rather set up a separate workspace where you can concentrate better without distractions. Make sure you have all the stuff you need to work from home efficiently, like PC/laptop, internet connection, whiteboard, calendar, chair and desk, and a neat and clean workspace. Not to mention the importance of using security tools. There are plenty of solutions, but VPN is becoming increasingly popular these days. With a VPN you can not only safely access sensitive work-related files but also keep your information protected when going online. We suggest taking some time to read detailed reviews of different VPN providers, such as the NordVPN review, so you can make an informed decision on what works best for you.
You should be able to associate your workspace instantly with work and disassociate from the rest of your home. You can also use a spare room of your house to convert it into an office, like Bethan Vincent, marketing director of app and web developer Netsells did. Having a designated workspace — be it an entire room or just a corner — helps many employees looking to increase their productivity when working remotely.
6. Communicate With Colleagues Frequently
Remote workers can feel lonely and isolated at times as their colleagues are no more there. Having in-person work-related and casual discussions in the office with coworkers can reduce stress levels and improve productivity. However, just because you cannot communicate with your co-workers face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be communicating with them regularly.
You can use different modes of communication to catch up with your colleagues. You can use video conferencing software like Zoom or Skype for group calls and conferences, phone calls, texting, or chat with them using your project management software. Frequent communication with coworkers is important to keep stress and loneliness at bay.
The Final Thought
Telecommuting might seem to be an inviting prospect for those who have never done it before, but it’s not without challenges. Mixing personal work, domestic chores with official work can eat into your designated working hours and cut down your productivity without you realizing it.
So, it’s important for remote workers to manage their time well. By practising these proven strategies, you will be able to draw a fine line between your work and personal time, as well as block distractions and keep track of your time every day. Increased productivity and better time management will eventually lead to less stress and happier you, and your well-being matters more than anything else.
Author Bio :
Nandini Sharma is the Assistant Marketing Manager at ProofHub – a powerful project management software loved by more than 85000+ teams and businesses worldwide. She brings unparalleled expertise in digital marketing through her years of experience in the field; especially when in the area of brand building, targeting a large audience and building strong connections with them. When not busy in creating winning marketing strategies, she can be found involved in art and craft activities.