Plenty of us are spending more of our time working from home nowadays. The hybrid work environment can be great in so many ways; we can steal back some of our time that would otherwise be spent commuting, we can be at home and ready to spend quality time with those around us as soon as the work day has finished, and for some of us, just sneaking in an extra half an hour in bed is more than enough reason to love a hybrid work schedule.
However, the work-from-home day is not without its pitfalls. It’s far easier to fall into bad habits when you aren’t held accountable to a boss who can simply glance over and see what you’re up to. Some of us need the added push of a superior breathing down our necks to actually get the work done.
If this sounds familiar, then these time management techniques will help you to have a more productive day working from home, so that you don’t have to find a career change and head back to the office!
The Pomodoro Technique
Using the Pomodoro technique is a great way to increase productivity and it’s incredibly simple to implement. You begin by working solidly for twenty minutes; that means no checking emails, no looking at your phone, or talking to a colleague, just straight concentration and focus on the task. You then follow this up with five minutes of break time.
Some people like to do the daily Wordle, others like to see if they can win at roulette before their five minutes up, the choice is yours, but make sure you spend your five minutes doing something you enjoy.
Whilst twenty minutes might not seem like very long to focus on work, the average human is only capable of concentrating for four hours a day, for between fifteen and twenty minutes at a time. So if you can fit in twelve Pomodoro sessions, you’ll have reached the human limit!
The Pareto Analysis
If you’re not sold on the Pomodoro technique then all is not lost. The Pareto Analysis is a great tool for those who often find themselves putting off the big tasks and ending up getting behind. The idea behind this time management tool is that for most people, 20% of the actions they take will be responsible for 80% of the outcomes that follow.
To achieve maximum productivity with this technique, you need to work out how you’re going to make those 20% of actions really count.
To begin with, list the problems that you’re facing in your career and determine what it is that is causing those problems. Perhaps you’re regularly forgetting to reply to important emails, arriving late for meetings, and often asking for deadline extensions.
All of these problems could be boiled down to poor time management. Once you have your list of problems and root causes, score them on how serious a problem they are from 1-10, with 10 being a big problem, and 1 being a minor problem.
Add up the total of the groups and the one that has the highest score is the one that you should spend the majority of your time fixing. This technique does require you to be self motivated, but it’s often far easier to find this motivation when you’ve got a simple objective to achieve.
Often it’s people who manage to achieve great things in their lives that come up with the best methods of time management. After all, if you want to become the president of the United States, you’re going to need to manage your time effectively.
Dwight Eisenhower, who achieved this feat in 1953, came up with a time management method beforehand that undoubtedly helped him in his quest for office. It’s known nowadays as the Eisenhower Matrix and is a great way to categorize your tasks more clearly to help you to see where your attention should be focused.
In order to being, you need to sort your tasks into four different categories. Is the task important, or unimportant, urgent or not urgent. Important tasks are the things you need to do to help you reach your long term goals, whilst unimportant ones are those tasks that do need to be done, but are less pressing when it comes to achieving your dreams.
Urgent tasks are, obviously, the ones that need to be done immediately, whilst not urgent tasks can wait until a later date. Once you’ve sorted your tasks into the four groups, focus on the tasks that are both important and urgent first, followed by the tasks that are either important or urgent.
If you make it through to the unimportant and not urgent quadrants then that’s fine, but if you don’t, you can remove them from your schedule, or delegate them to someone else. Remember to keep updating your task groups so that you’re always working on the most important tasks.
Filling The Pickle Jar
This theory is used to describe lots of things, but it really comes into its own when it is used for time management. If you’re the kind of person who works well with analogies then this technique should make sense very clearly to you.
You need to think of the pickle jar as your life. Within the jar, you need to fit a bunch of rocks, a bunch of pebbles, and a handful of sand. If you put the sand in first, then the pebbles, there won’t be space for the rocks.
However, if you put the rocks in first, then the pebbles will fill in the gaps that the rocks leave, and the sand will fill in the tiny gaps that the pebbles leave. It’s in this way that you are able to fill the jar with everything that you need to fit into it, by starting with the big stuff and leaving the smaller bits until last.
By now, you’ll probably have worked out the analogy. The rocks are the most pressing and important tasks in your day, you need to fit these into your life first. The pebbles are the tasks that need completing, but could be delegated, or done on a different day.
The sand are all of the nuisances in your working day, like phone calls, emails and the like. These will just have to slot in wherever possible. Break down each working day into rocks, pebbles, and sand, then assign some time to make sure that all of the big things get done.