Remember March 11, 2020? If you were working at your job in an office, you do….you grabbed your coffee, kissed your loved ones and headed out the door to work. Remember March 18, one week later? Suddenly your kids were not in school, your office was closed and you were learning something called “Zoom” and trying to figure out why you weren’t zooming through your day. Things were at the best topsy- turvey and at the worst chaotic.
One year later, many of us are still working remotely. For some, it’s been a blessing and a boon. Corporations that were very nervous about their employees working at home because they were sure loyal employees would spend their day pretending to work when they were really watching Netflix, found that as we all developed a new rhythm their employees were surprisingly MORE productive and engaged. It kind of became a game changer.
That said, there are still challenges to working at home and staying organized about it. Keeping your workspace as neat as possible makes a difference in being productive. Sometimes, however, if your workspace is organized, your work DAY isn’t necessarily as synchronized at we want it to be. Face it, even though it’s been a year this is still a concept in progress. So this week let’s focus on organizing your DAY better. Here’s some thoughts and tips:
· Manage your TASKS, not your TIME. Focus on getting TASKS done and not how much time you spend trying to get them done.
· You’ve probably heard this before, but do the most difficult thing at the most productive time of the day. If you are a go-getter in the morning, get it done then. If you are more of a “I work better after I’ve got my momentum going” type of person, that’s the time to tackle the hard stuff, after you get the mundane out of the way. This means you have to take a decent realistic look at yourself and maybe track your productive time for a week or so to see when you work best.
· Focus on the results, not the project. If you are working on a task or project that seems daunting, picture yourself on the other side. Laura Vanderkam, author of The New Corner Office, tells the story of her son being terrified of riding a roller coaster so she told him to envision it when it was over. He did, and he found out he enjoyed it more than he thought he would. Picture yourself on the back side of the project.
· Make a realistic To-Do List. A to-do list is basically a short contract with yourself. 3-5 things is a great place to start. If you get them all done by noon, GREAT! You can always create another list after lunch, and you have a feeling of accomplishment. A To-Do list is not a wish list, it’s a task management tool.
· Rethink urgency. Remember you are looking for solutions to a problem (whatever that problem may be at the moment), and prioritize what needs to go first to get done to start the solution going.
· Do your best to manage distractions as best as you can. Distractions happen, whether you are a CEO, a teacher or just someone trying to get your 5 year old to sit at the computer and learn their colors and numbers. Work in bites of time. If you have a lot of distractions at home, wear headphones when you work. Things always pop up, so to stay on task, cret a “later” list—a list of things to address later in the day or another time. That gets them out of your mind so you can stay on task.
Finally, give yourself a break. Get up every hour and look at something different. Walk around. Grab a snack or beverage. Pet the dog. Go outside for a minute. You will be glad you did. Schedule them with a reminder from Alexa or Siri if you need to.
End well, for the day. Every day needs an opening and a closing. Many people who work from home find it helpful to create their own end of the day ritual. What can yours be? Write your to-do list for the next day. Sign off from your computer. Meditate for 5 minutes or write in a journal. Do something that shifts your brain into “ok, we are shifting gears now”.
I’d love to hear from you about creative ways to end your day.