We're all months into this pandemic and doing our best to work outside the office. Whether you're working on your own business at home or working for someone else, time management can be a challenge amidst distractions like children and chores. The "new normal" is to accomplish everything that you did before even...
After some research, I've found a few time management techniques that actually work.
Here are Time Management Techniques for Entrepreneurs and Remote Workers.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
That phrase sounds so pie-in-the-sky to those of us who are trying to manage some semblance of work/life balance. Back in March, several articles came out revealing that remote workdays were, on average, 3 hours longer for those trying to balance work with kids who were suddenly out of school. Many of those surveyed months ago were already frustrated with the new struggle of life's responsibilities that weren't so neatly compartmentalized any more.
Because the virus isn't going anywhere any time soon and it's still to be determined if my kids are going back to school, I've learned to embrace the work smarter philosophy with some tried and true techniques.
Break Down Overall Goals into Smaller Tasks: Often, it is too overwhelming to consider all that I have to do in one week. Instead, I "brain dump" and begin tackling the next week's goals on the Friday before. I create a task list of items that contribute to each goal and check them off during the week. If it's an especially challenging week, I may even choose which tasks I accomplish each day.
Prioritize and/or Do the Hard Stuff First: Prioritization can be done in myriad of ways, depending on your job or goals. Deadlines obviously take priority but if I have something particularly challenging, I prefer to knock it off my to do list first. Getting the hard stuff done first pushes me through the rest of the week with ease.
Push Past Procrastination: It can be a real struggle when I'm not feeling motivated to do anything. Some time management techniques will suggest doing a simple task first, just to feel a sense of accomplishment. This works for me sometimes but if I'm procrastinating and I do one simple task, I'll still give up after it's done. My secret to pushing past the procrastination is setting a timer.
Setting a Timer for Motivation: I don't recall how I discovered this technique but I began using it on my children when they were toddlers. If I wanted them to clean up or get ready for something, I'd set a timer and they'd rush to finish before the time was up. It actually still works and they're teenagers now.
Recently, I learned about the Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, using a tomato-shaped egg timer the same way. I've really liked honing my timer method to this technique because it encourages breaks. It works like this:
- Decide on your task
- Set the timer to 25 minutes
- Work until the timer is finished
- Take a short 5 minute break
- After 4 "pomodoro's", take a 15 - 30 minute break
Setting a timer sort of makes a deal with yourself that you won't be distracted by social media or texts from your mom or the kids wanting your attention. Focused work means that things just get done and they get done faster.
Okay so what about that work/life balance that we keep hearing about? I'll be honest, I can't say that my work and the rest of my life is perfectly balanced but it's better than it was before. Because I'm at home, I have saved the time I would normally spend driving to a downtown office or sitting in traffic. Accounting for that, there are more hours that I can devote to either my home life or my work life. My secret for finding balance is doing the same things listed above:
Break Down Overall Goals into Smaller Tasks: The goals are different than they are for my work but they're still on the same weekly list. These goals include doing some sort of daily exercise, walking the dog, spending time in my garden, reading before bed and connecting with my children. I include chores such as grocery shopping, laundry and housecleaning. Again, I assign tasks to certain days so that by Friday evening, I have next week's list and then a weekend of no responsibilities to enjoy with my family.
Prioritize and/or Do the Hard Stuff First: Because so much rides on me, the first priority of every day is me. I rise before my children, meditate and exercise. In the afternoon, I prioritize time to sit on the front patio with the dog. I require this time to rest my mind and sit in quiet.
Push Past Procrastination: When my children are awake and want my attention, it's TOUGH to break away to get my work done. Then I remember my timer method and I tell them to give me an hour or two to knock a few things out. In that time, they get their chores done or do something creative and then we have quality time to spend hanging out. It's a win-win.
As an entrepreneur who works from home, the pandemic-shift didn't send my life into too much of a tailspin, fortunately, as I had already implemented methods to accomplishing my goals and tasks. Adjusting to the kids being home was a challenge but we're now settling in. I hope these time management tips are helpful. Please chime in with your own ideas in the comments. Thank you!