If you now work from home because of the COVID-19 shelter in place orders, you probably already have your work space set up because you’ve been working remotely for at least a week or two by now.
But what you might not have set up yet in your new work from home environment is your “groove.” Whenever life throws changes at you, you can feel off kilter…something isn’t quite right. It’s out of whack. It’s human nature to feel awkward or even anxious whenever change happens. The key to getting out of this is to first recognize it’s happening, and then make the decision to take action to get back into whack. (That’s a scientific term.)
2 Keys to Work from Home More Effectively
During any type of schedule change, there are usually two factors missing which cause us to feel like we’re not in control of our time management.
1 – Time Blocking. Time blocking means that you understand what the different components of your job entail. More importantly, you have created estimates of how much time each week you should devote to each of these components. Can these change during any given week? Yes they can, especially now with so many business situations evolving daily. However, when you understand your components and estimated times, instead of allowing things to just happen to you, you can now make the conscious, intentional decision to decide where your time needs to go – and for how long. In other words, instead of waking up on Monday morning and saying, “Where did last week go? I didn’t get anything done that I had planned,” you will now say, “Last week didn’t go according to my original plan, but that’s OK. I’ve made the adjustments, and none of those items I had to skip over will fall off my radar.”
Time blocking won’t prevent less-than-stellar things from happening. What it will do is help you focus each day on what priorities you need to address, as well as modify, adjust and recover far more quickly when plans change. This leads to less stress and even better decision-making about how you use your time.
2 – Realistic To-Do Lists. If you’re frustrated a couple of times or more per week because you couldn’t finish your to-do list, it could very well be because your to-do list is not realistic. Many people create their task lists from stream of conscious – whatever tasks pop into their head get captured on a list, and that list becomes their goal for the next day. The important step that’s missing is time estimation. When you understand how much time you have in a day to actually work on anything from a to-do list, you’ll narrow down which items to work on. For example, if tomorrow you have phone appointments and video conferences scheduled throughout the day, leaving you with a total of only three hours in between all of them, that means you only have three hours of to-do list time. But if your stream of conscious task list has six hours worth of tasks on there, of course you won’t be able to finish. Then you’ll get ticked off and flustered. Create a realistic to do list to improve your focus and be less stressed.
Have you noticed the pattern?
planning = more focus + less stress
Try it. You’ll like it!