We have talked a lot about work-life balance and one of the major aspects of this concept is time management. By now you probably know yourself well enough to know if this is a major issue for you or not. Regardless of whether you are a planner or you like to wing it, there is no denying that a virtual workspace has a completely different set of protocols for time management.
One of the unique time management challenges of being at home is the new environment and the people inside of it. It is likely that you are not the only person home at this time and even if everyone in your house is working, it can still be incredibly distracting to be in that space. As you work from home and are continually surrounded by family, you may find it harder to separate the two, responding to more life situations than you would if you were not at home. An article from Business World suggests setting aside specific hours for family events and communicating those hours with your family so they know when you will and will not be accessible (Kohli, 2020). Obviously your family will still have access to you but it provides a bit of accountability on your part to get work done during your work hours so that you can be present with your family when you say you will be.
While it is important to make sure you have some separate work and family time, companies do not want you to ignore your family and some companies are even accepting a more family-friendly organizational culture (Cho & Ice, 2019). These companies recognize the importance of family and are creating more flexible schedules for their employees. Pre-covid this looked like the hybrid work from home schedule, today it may look more like Zoom free Fridays or a midday break away from meetings. This has allowed employees to be more present during work and take the time necessary to make sure their family has access to them as well.
In terms of time management, we have already noted the importance of scheduling out your day to not only get work done but also allow yourself some time to deal with personal/family matters. Another tip would be to measure tasks not time. What this means is focus on what you are accomplishing, not the time you are using. While you need to stay truthful to your agreed upon work hours, you should not rule yourself by the clock. Focusing on the tasks you need to complete and your progress in those tasks should be what drives you. To help with this, create a small, realistic to-do list with achievable goals that you believe could get done that day. This will keep you motivated to continue throughout your day as tasks are accomplished, and depending on your goals may give you a good schedule for taking short, refreshing breaks.
As we just mentioned, your breaks are just as important as the time that you are working when it comes to time management. Your brain can do a lot, but it cannot focus for 8 hours straight. To make sure you keep your brain from burnout, establish a certain amount of time that works best for you whether it is anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours where you commit to working and then take a corresponding break which could be anywhere from 5-30 minutes. Even if you just get up and walk to get a cup of coffee, you are allowing your brain to slow down and refresh and be better able to complete the rest of the tasks you would like to get done.
There are several other ways people manage their time, whether you plan out every aspect of your day or you have a more abstract schedule with only due dates as your structure. Everyone works differently and it is important that you continue to try new strategies until you find the one that works for you. In fact, it has been found that trying new strategies can actually keep you more alert in your work instead of falling into a more habitual state (Kohli, 2020).
If you are still wondering how you can better manage your time, head over to agl.thinkific.com to start our first course from the AGL Institute called the Virtual Self. We have developed a unique tool for time management that will help keep yourself on task with projects.
Thanks for reading!
Cho, E., & Ice, A. C. (2019). Work-life balance among self-initiated expatriates in Singapore: Definitions, challenges, and resources: Research and reviews.Current Psychology. 1-12. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy1.usc.edu/10.1007/s12144-019-00413-8
Kohli, V. (2020, Aug 07). Work life balance and time management, biggest challenge for WFH. Business World.