Raise your hand if managing your time during the COVID-19 pandemic means the lines between the office, home and your kids’ schoolwork now blur together — or might not exist at all.  Time management is a challenge during normal times, but when working remotely, it can be tougher without the parameters you’re accustomed to when you’re in the office. Here are five tips for time management that can help you be more effective. 

  1. Do one thing at a time
    We’ve all been tempted to check our email during a Zoom meeting, and maybe even decided to respond to one. You might think that you can keep track of a meeting while writing an email – but you can’t.  Research shows that we can’t do two cognitive tasks at once. When composing an email, you’re not engaged with what’s going on in the meeting. If your boss asks you a question, you won’t give a very good answer and you’ll forget what you were writing in that email anyway. 
  2. Be aware of the time of day when you are most productive
    The typical 8:00 am to 4:30 pm workday may not be the most realistic if you have family obligations competing for your time. You might also notice you’re more productive during nontraditional hours, such as before others in your house wake up or after dinnertime. Either way, communicate openly with your manager so you’re on the same page about work hour expectations. 
  3. Treat free time like work meetings
    It’s important to continue taking breaks like you normally would in the office. Schedule them on your calendar like you would for any other work meeting, even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes. Not only does this mean you’ll get a reminder, but it’s also a chance to block your calendar so colleagues see you’re busy. Use your free time to take a quick walk or have “watercooler talk” with your coworkers (also known as your family or pets). 
  4. Minimize social media distractions
    Are you finding that social media is constantly distracting you? Log out of your social media accounts during work time so you’re less inclined to use them.
  5. Identify your daily and weekly priorities
    While you may have a long list of tasks to tackle, this is the time to recognize the importance of prioritizing.  Those tasks related to your most immediate goals should be at the top of each day’s to-do list.  Less important tasks or those that can be tackled in a  couple of months should be flagged accordingly.