5 tips for managing time while WFH
8th December, 2021
Most of the IT professionals that I know are now busier than ever before, though they are all working from home (WFH). Ideally they should be less busy. Isn’t it? No commute to office. Hence no preparation time to go to office. No business travel. No casual chats around coffee machine or on the hallways. No formal or informal lunch or dinner with the customers or colleagues. I still find many people are overwhelmed with the unprecedented shortage of time. They are working more but getting less done, and feeling frustrated.
Here are my 5 tips to manage your time better while WFH
1. Build your time framework
One of the key elements of good time management is schedule. In the normal time, we follow a time management framework consciously or unconsciously. We know when to go to office & when to come back. We know when our weekends and holidays are. We schedule tasks and projects around this framework. Everything hinges around this framework. Because of the lock-downs, we don’t have any time framework. We hardly remember what day of the week is today. It’s like endless road with no bumps, no detours, no variation or road signs anywhere. We need to first put some road signs.
We need to build our own time framework. Even we work from home, we need to define our office hours, something like 7 AM to 4 PM or 10 AM to 7 PM. If you need to work with people at different time zones, you can take advantage of staying at home by splitting your work day into two parts with a long gap in-between (say 7 AM-10 AM and 4 PM-10 PM).
You may also want to add a smaller window of work on weekends. You need to fix a time for lunch. It may not be possible to always stick to these hours, but building your own work calendar will make things much better than keeping everything fluid (endless stream of time).
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ― Michael Altshuler
2. Do the rights things. Say No to everything else
Productivity is all about doing the right things. Prioritizing them and getting them done. Everybody has 24 hours in a day. You can never accommodate everything that comes on your way. You have to pick the ones that matter the most. During these Covid-19 lockdown WFH time, your calendar might be overflowing with invitations for meetings, scheduled calls, webinars, etc. You need to remove many of them to make room for your most important tasks.
WFH has restricted our movement, by default. Among the right things, please make sure to include physical activities. It will definitely increase your productivity and creativity.
3. Calendarize top 3 most important tasks for the day
Decide the top three most important tasks that you want to complete in any particular day. Block your calendar for these tasks. Estimate how much time they might take. If the time required to complete a task is long, you have to break it into smaller chunks & plan to complete one or two of those chunks in a day. Be slightly conservative in your estimation. Schedule the tasks first in your calendar. Make sure that your calendar is not fully occupied. Keep at least 30-40% of the time free in your calendar for any contingency or urgent work.
4. Focus on one task at a time
Focus on one task at a time. Try to complete the task in one touch. Do not go back and forth on the same task. Complete the task before jumping into the next. Avoid all types of distraction. If you remember some other urgent task that will take less than 4 minutes, you may want to complete the task and come back to the task at hand.
You might have to go offline if you get frequently disturbed. Control your urge to check on social media or searching Google, unless it is absolutely critical. Be aware of all the time we spend on surfing the net and going through all the messages floating in social media. They are the ones stealing most of our time.
“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.” – Mozart
5. Schedule separate time for social media, family etc
It is difficult to avoid social media (particularly WhatsApp) these days. Schedule time separately for checking WhatsApp or other social media activities (may be 3-4 times every day for 10-15 minutes each). Same way, while you are at home, you need to allocate time for household chores. Since you family is at home, you need to plan time with them. Many people are having scheduled time for family lunch and dinner. Remember to go offline during that time.
“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein
If you face any challenge in implementing these tips, please feel free to connect with me.