Since the world transitioned to working from home, many people have suddenly found themselves completely in control of how they spend their time. Now they can cook lunch between meetings, pick up their kids from school during an afternoon break or take the day off to get housework done. This new abundance of unstructured time might feel great at first, but it can easily lead to wasting time on things that aren't important, which can get you behind in your job or important tasks. If you know how to schedule a successful day, though, these worries go right out the window!
Rise and Shine
Whether it's cooking eggs and bacon or making a smoothie with your favorite protein powder, a morning routine is a must-have for successful people. Waking up at the same time each day and going through the same motions is a quick and easy way to signal to your brain and body that it's time to get down to business. Sometimes a routine is more of a morning ritual. Maybe you prefer to exercise first thing in the morning, or start the day with some relaxing yoga before breakfast. Whatever gets your juices flowing and your mood excited about the day works perfectly. It also helps you to feel more motivated to wake up and get moving because you're doing it for something you enjoy.
After your routine is all wrapped up, it's time to turn to work. Instead of just diving in and seeing what comes back completed, it helps to be intentional about your day. A good way to do this is to pick your top three projects for the day, no matter how big or how difficult. These three things will be your guide for the day. You can prioritize them in order of importance or deadlines or however makes sense, but they will be your compass through the millions of tasks you have on your plate. Once you've established these projects, you can ensure everything you do during the day is an effort to clear the bigger task off your plate.
You might be thinking, "Three projects! There aren't enough hours in the day for me to tackle those!" The truth is, however, if you stay focused on the task at hand and manage your time well, you can easily knock out three big projects every day. The key is to know how to budget your hours so not a single one is wasted. Time blocking is one popular method of keeping track of your time. Think of your time in three zones: green, yellow, and red. Green time is actively accomplishing tasks and goals, yellow time is administrative or extra work that must get done but doesn't directly impact the overall goal, and red time is time not spent working on the task at hand. Block out your day hour by hour, making sure you have at least six hours of green time. You can even go so far as to designate each hour to a specific task if that helps you. This way you know exactly what you need to be doing every hour of the entire day.
One key to blocking time that some people forget is being able to accurately estimate how long it will take to accomplish a task. For example, if you schedule an hour for something that really only takes 15 minutes, you'll end up with 45 minutes of unstructured time where you might get distracted or off course for the day. Be sure to honestly assess how long it usually takes you to complete everything on your list for the day, and mark out your time accordingly. This will help you to stay more productive and more focused until it's time to knock off for the evening.
Arguably the most important aspect of working hard and managing your time is knowing when to take a break. As much as we'd like to be able to work our daily eight hours straight, our brains and bodies need a break from the grind every now and then. If you can spare it, try to give yourself about twenty minutes every couple of hours to get up from your desk, walk to another room, maybe get a snack, step outside, and just get away from the workspace. This will allow your brain to take a breather and you can return refreshed and ready to dive back in. You might feel tempted to multitask while you're in your work hours to get more done, but this can actually tax your brain even more and often causes mistakes and multiple tasks left half finished, so it's best to avoid this practice.
Working remotely is a whole new world, but if you know how to effectively manage your time, then you'll have no problem succeeding from your home office.