We have been working from home for almost a year now. Most of us already figured out the ways to manage time while working from home, but for some, this might still be a work in progress. It is important to organize our time to help us achieve a balanced work and personal life.
There's no one-size-fits-all method and technique to manage time, but here are some tips we curated that might help you:
1. Audit where you spend most of your time.
Being busy doesn't always equate to being productive. This is why having an inventory of your time enables you to spot the unnecessary things you do, get rid of them, and make room for things that matter more.
A simple way to audit your time is to go through your day as usual, and note what you did within specific time frames. You can do this on a notepad, or even on an Excel spreadsheet. Take note that this is not a to-do-list but a what-I-did list.
After auditing where your time is mostly spent, in the remarks section, you can add action plans like eliminating activities you don't get value from or increasing the time you spend on tasks that are important to you, then adjust your plans accordingly.
2. Identify what method works for you.
A lot of people utilize time management methods to help them, and different methods work for different types of people. Finding the best one for yourself would probably take a few trials-and-errors.
Here are some specific methods we suggest you experiment with:
Prioritizing to-dos using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is a principle that prioritizes the tasks based on the urgency — the urgent, not urgent, important, and not important tasks. This unique approach of managing time can be used in different mediums as well - non-digital (paper) or digital. This tool solely depends on your preference, hence you can use this tool on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis.
The good thing about To-do Lists is that you can use them with different media — paper, sticky notes on a laptop, or even a Chrome extension. We created a FREE minimalist chrome extension tool called Inspiring Todo App you can try it out for this!
Time blocking is a time management method that assigns tasks into blocks of time throughout the day. This can be DIY-ed in a non-digital or digital approach. We suggest trying Google Calendar for time blocking because aside from its user-friendly interface for blocking time, it has a feature that sends you notifications 15 minutes (customizable) before your next scheduled activity.
3. Build around what works for you.
Now that you identified what methods work for you, start using them regularly and build your days around them. Here are other practices you can incorporate with your time management dynamic:
If you are working from home and you want your team and family to let you work in peace, you need to inform them what time frames you need to focus on work. Help them help you.
Stay away from bad distractions
Some distractions are necessary, and some are not. Get to know which distractions hinder you from achieving your targets then make every effort to eliminate them.
4. Have an established morning routine
According to a licensed professional counselor and mental health service provider, Jodi Clarke, in her article called "Benefits of a Morning Routine," establishing a morning routine allows us to set the tone for the day which helps us manage our time and increase our productivity. Many other pieces of research prove this same thing.
With the work from home situation, we think that it's easier to run towards our desks and work right after we wake up. These studies tell us that spending the first hour of our day doing our morning routines allows us to be more focused and intentional about our work later on.
When all is said and done, time management is a medium and not the end goal. As John F. Kennedy advises,
We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.
We hope these tips help you! If you have any other tips you'd like to share, feel free to share them!
You might also want to read Practical tips to stay productive working from home.
Story by Krisha Suico, Christine Suson and Michelle Biag, Symph Interns 2021