As we have all switched to working from home, we’ve not only seen productivity stay consistent or even increase, we’ve also eliminated our commute time, resulting in US workers collectively saving 89 million hours a week. However, are we using that time to do things around the house? Distractions can elongate our work day when we’re at home. So figuring out ways to save time while working remotely can give you some time back in your day while staying productive.
The idea of pursuing hobbies, tackling overdue projects, or simply taking some time for yourself during the quarantine has not been as successful as many of us hoped. We are wasting much of our newfound time on unfulfilling pursuits. According to an HBR article, there are a couple of reasons for this and a number of things we can do to reclaim our time.
The first reason is that we no longer have a natural break between our work and home lives. The commute, no matter how dreaded, created the separation between home and work. Now one blends into the other, and we’re filling the time with less productive work. The second reason is that we’re filling the free time we have with passive leisure activities such as watching TV instead of active leisure activities. Granted the active leisure activities, like socializing with others, have become far more difficult to do during the pandemic, the passive activities may help us relax but they don’t result in happiness. The article recommends the following ideas to help you save time while working remotely.
Create Your Own Commute
Just because you’re not going into an office doesn’t mean you can’t create the “break” between home and work. The optimal commute time is 16 minutes. At the beginning and end of your work day, take 16 minutes to get ready for work and wind down. Go for a walk, plan out your tasks for the day, listen to a podcast, whatever helps you create separation.
Give Yourself a Feierabend
Feierabend is a German term for a daily ritual when work is over. Whether you work out, have a drink, call a family member or friend, mark the end of your day with something you look forward to. This daily routine can bring you satisfaction and happiness.
Focus your workload on a daily “must win”
Working at home has made it harder to focus on work tasks. There are video calls, chat, and email interruptions, not to mention kids, laundry, dishes, and other household tasks calling your name. Prioritize one thing you want to get done each day, and focus on it until it’s complete.
Put “proactive time” on your calendar
What the article calls proactive time, Google calls “maker time”, and I’ve heard it called “NNT” or non-negotiable time. All of us need time to focus on a task that needs our full attention. It might be coding, writing, financial analysis, or hundreds of other things. Regardless, you need to block time on your calendar so you can get the important things done without interruption.
Reclaim the social in social distancing
As we start to open places back up, it’s important to make the effort to start socializing more. Go on walks, runs, or bike rides with a friend. Meet for outdoor coffee. Whatever you can do, put in the effort to do it, you’ll thank yourself later.
Run time-management experiments
COVID-19 has forced all of us into a unique experiment of working remotely. Look at the situation as a game and test different time-management practices to see what suits you best. The recommendations above are a great way to start. If your office is open for staff (even on a limited basis), try going in once or twice a week. The dynamic of seeing a few co-workers can break up the at home monotony.
Let us know if you have other ideas on how to save time while working remotely. And if you have any questions about improving your company’s remote working culture, let us know how we can help.