Time management can be challenging for remote workers. It’s tempting to spend the whole day enjoying your life— loafing, chatting, and doom-scrolling when there’s no one looking over your shoulder. But that could lead to missed deadlines, strained work relationships, a bad reputation and even termination.
And no one wants that.
Here are some strategies to help you manage your time, increase productivity and achieve your goals.
Create a workspace
A workspace helps you focus on your tasks. It should be in a bright, well-ventilated, quiet place without distractions. It does not have to be expensive – a dedicated chair and desk is a good start. You can also shower and dress for work like you would if you had a 9-5, before heading to your workspace. Doing this helps set your mind to “work mode” and sharpens your focus.
You could also decide to change your work locations from day to day. In that case, ensure you have everything you need and a setup that supports your goals. Avoid changing places when you have a deadline or an important meeting.
Make a To-do list
A to-do list is a simple and effective way to improve productivity. List your tasks, then outline them in order of priority and cross them off as you finish each one. Keep your list visible throughout the day to keep you focused. Tweak it if necessary.
Getting things checked off the list can be a huge boost, fueling your drive to get more work done. Making a plan is easy; the difficult part is sticking to it. However, when you follow through with tasks, you get closer and closer to your goals.
You do not have to beat yourself up if your plans don’t work out as you hoped. Reexamine your strategy from time to time until you find one that’s best for you. If you constantly fail to meet your daily goals, consider shortening your list and allocating more time for tasks.
Know when you work best and protect that time
Some people work best in the morning and others, at night. Some find that it helps to wake up early and get their work done before the sun is out, while others prefer a more leisurely approach. All these styles are valid. What matters is knowing what works for you and sticking to it. After all, what’s remote work if not flexible?
Know your most productive hours and block them from interruptions. Consider these hours your “deep work time” and commit them to your most important tasks. Avoid meetings during this time or administrative tasks like email and invoicing.
Focus on the tasks that drive the needle forward.
Feed your focus, starve your distractions
Distractions are everywhere, but you can minimize them. You could consider dedicated work phones and computers. If you cannot afford this, you can mute phone notifications during work time. Another hack is having a specific browser for work activities or creating a separate work account on your personal computer. The work account should be free from games, social media, or any other distractions.
Some remote workers find that co-working spaces and virtual work dates help. You could also try those and see if they work for you.
Try The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular productivity hack, highly recommended for people who struggle to focus. It helps you use your time, break down complex tasks into simpler ones, and focus on one task at a time. Here’s how it works:
Get your to-do list and a timer
Set your timer for 25 minutes (you can opt for your preferred time, but it should be less than an hour).
Focus on just one task until the timer rings.
Take note of what you’ve achieved during this time.
Take a five-minute break.
After you have done this about four times, take a combined break of 20 minutes.
Consider tracking your time
It can be hard to manage your time when you don’t know how much time you need for each task. Tracking your time can help you spot time wastage while incentivizing focus and speed. You can do this manually or automate the process with apps like Toogl and Clockify.
Each week, you can review the data and make changes.
You are most productive when you are well-rested. Burnouts are common with remote work, but you can avoid that by making rest a priority. Schedule rest daily, weekly, quarterly and annually
Working long hours can cause physical problems like migraines, dizziness, aches, and pains. So you need to schedule breaks.
Take a break from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Take a break from your desk every three to four hours.
Have some days off.
Take vacations. Every bit helps.
Managing your time as a remote worker helps you stay productive while enjoying the benefits of independent work. While distractions abound, making good time management choices that protect your focus and help you excel is possible. Create a schedule that helps you work best and stick to it.
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