While some people thrive in traditional office atmospheres, many have had to adjust to working in the comfort of their own homes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2025, it is estimated that 22% of the U.S workforce will continue to work remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic statistics.
There are often drawbacks to working in an office environment, but remote work can present challenges as well – such as prioritization and time management.
Here are three easy tips to help improve your WFH time management skills.
1. Schedule deep focus time.
To minimize distractions and maximize your efficiency, establish blocks of uninterrupted work time into your day and put them on your calendar. Consider using tools / software that temporarily blocks access to websites or apps of your choosing. Deep focus time blocks can be beneficial to get your hardest or most tedious tasks done since you won’t be able to use your identified distractors, and your colleagues will see that you are currently unavailable.
Scheduling these focus blocks for the periods that you have the highest energy levels will help you optimize your time, make the most progress on bigger projects, and improve your quality of work. Aim for sessions between 1.5 to 2 hours at a time to achieve maximum productivity.
2. Give yourself breaks.
Instead of dreading certain tasks that you end up dragging out, try scheduling microbreaks (short, regular interval breaks) into your day. Research has shown that taking breaks can give you a fresh perspective that helps maintain job performance throughout the day, lower stress levels and exhaustion, and increase productivity. Mental and physical fatigue can result from things like repetitive tasks or sitting in one spot for a long period of time.
Short breaks can give your brain the time it needs to recharge and the option to move and stretch your body. Use these breaks to meditate, call a friend, grab a healthy snack, or take your pet for a walk outside in the fresh air.
3. Establish boundaries.
Working in a traditional office setting makes it easier to be in the mindset and schedule of a good work/life balance. Without leaving an office and commuting home, you may struggle with “clocking out” or unplugging at the end of the day at home. Try disabling notifications from work applications, changing your chat status, and setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to “sign off”. This will help reduce the urge of checking back in after-hours, which should be time spent unwinding with your family.
Working remotely also means that your TV and refrigerator are within close proximity, so you may find yourself trying to multitask (unsuccessfully) or roaming to find a snack more often. Designating an area of your home for specific purposes can help you create a connection that allows you to focus on specific tasks. While it doesn’t have to be an entire office in your home, try to section off a small corner to establish as your desk and office space where you only perform work-related duties and nothing else. It can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted, so the best advice is to limit those distractions as much as possible.
Because there are only 24 hours in the day, and often too much to do, it’s crucial to be efficient with how you manage your time. Give these tips a try so your time doesn’t slip away while working remotely.