Very early on in my career, I went on a time management course. It wasn’t quite in the heyday of the Filofax (look it up!) but not long afterwards. One of the most valuable lessons I learned, was about planning out your time and grouping tasks together. I was reminded of this during a chat with a business colleague recently, when she talked about setting out chunks of time to avoid overwhelm.
The Juggling Act
When we’re juggling so many things at once, work, home life, home schooling and spending time with our families, it’s so easy to get lost in the thinking that “we have lots of time”. Work, home life and family time all merge into one and we seem to never fully switch off from the work time. Let’s face it it’s so easy just to log on again for another hour in the evening just to “finish that thing”.
Another big challenge with working from home is the non-work interruptions and how many zoom calls have we been on which have been “bombed” by pets or family members? How many heated discussions have gone on about keeping the children amused while the other adult in the house works? Who takes priority?
Fundamentally, time management is about boundaries, organisation and setting goals. Here’s some ways you can help to keep a great work-life balance during the working from home days:-
- Agree with other home workers in your house, your individual working hours and try not to overlap. Your employer should be able to agree some flexible working for you.
- Set up a shared diary, so that if one of you is on a conference call, the other is making sure there are no interruptions.
- Set yourself goals for each day. Work, goals, home goals, schooling goals, exercise and timetable these in to the diary. Make sure everyone else involved is aware of the time slots (especially for home schooling!).
- Set out chunks of time, for individual tasks, for example, 9.00am to 10.00 am to check and answer e-mails (you may need more than one slot in a day. 10.00am to 11.00am to write a report, 1.00pm – 2.00pm video calls, 5.00pm to 6.00pm paint part of the garden fence, 6.00pm to 7.00pm go for a walk.
- Imagine your home office as a workplace and schedule it as if you were in an office. Make sure you take a lunch break and other breaks and do something different.
Plan and stick to it
Whatever you do, agree some expectations and boundaries with the others around you. Make sure you put everything in the diary and stick to it. Avoid being overwhelmed by work, about talk of the virus or with everything you need to think about and don’t forget to schedule in some free time for yourself.