In March 2020, as COVID-19 cases began to climb and the pandemic was declared a national emergency, people grabbed laptops, monitors, and files, leaving their offices in an unprecedented move to work from home. IT departments scrambled to get everyone set up properly so they could be productive, and many learned that they don’t really like to look at themselves on Zoom.
PwC’s U.S. Remote Work Survey, conducted at the beginning of 2021, indicates that “most companies are heading toward a hybrid working strategy where a large number of office employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces,” furthering the flexibility that employees embraced, once they got settled.
If hybrid work is in your future, it might be time to officially treat your home like an office, manage your schedule, build a dedicated workspace, and implement proper data storage, such as HiDrive from IONOS, which allows you to access your data from anywhere¬—at home, in the office, or on the road.
Time management techniques
Initially, it’s important to reflect on the time management you feel most productive. For some of us, it’s first thing in the morning. Others take a little while to get going and start knocking things off their to-do list in the late afternoon. Knowing when you’re at your best helps you determine when to schedule challenging tasks. Some productivity experts, like Brian Tracy, who named the Eat the Frog Method, say that you should always tackle your toughest task (your frog) in the morning, building on this advice from Mark Twain: “If it’s you eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And, if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
After you eat your daily frog, consider trying a few of these time management tips:
Plan out your schedule, including scheduled breaks
Writing down your daily plans or plotting them out in your digital calendar during working from home helps you stick to them. Make sure to include alarms for breaks. Studies show that workers who take frequent breaks (about a 15-minute break every hour) were more productive than those who didn’t. Get up to walk around, queue up a short yoga class, do a crossword—something to engage your brain in a different way than the project you’re working on.
Work with the time you have
The Pomodoro Technique breaks your workday into 25-minute chunks that are separated by five-minute breaks. After completing several Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break of about 20 minutes. During the 25 minutes, work only on a designated project. Don’t check email or social media, and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted. (You can check your feed during the five-minute break!
Try a productivity app
Trello, Evernote, RescueTime, Stretchy, or StrictWorkflow (which helps with the Pomodoro Technique, mentioned above) are all great starting points. They can help you keep track of your deadlines, projects, or even remind you to stretch.
Getting in the habit of maximizing your workday takes work, and a little help never hurts.
Implement just one of these strategies to start out so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Having a concrete goal beyond the vague “be more productive” will set you on the right track to maximizing your uptime and enjoying your downtime.