Time management and remote work is a powerful couple. There have been many articles about various techniques about it. This time, however, I’m not going to write about scientific methods that should help us manage our time in everyday situations. I’m sure all of you have experienced time management related challenges at least during the past year when you worked from home. Based on my conversations with different companies from all around the world and many fresh remote workers, I’ve come across several topics that are being mentioned frequently and… literally drive us crazy. Let me reveal the top four remote time management obstacles that I’ve captured within the past few months. Of course, I’ll provide solutions to them as well.
No meeting means free time
If our calendar doesn’t show that we’re busy attending a remote meeting, it means we are available… Well, at least that’s how others usually see it. I’ve spoken with remote workers who sometimes have meetings for 4 hours in a row (which is insane in the first place!). In this case, as the rest of their day appears as “free”, they are being randomly invited to other meetings. This is too much and makes our productivity go downwards. It’s not just about the common Zoom fatigue syndrome but also simple tiredness. My hint is: block time in your calendar if you don’t want others to randomly invite you to meetings. Maybe you can do this for 2-3 hours every day to make sure that your daily tasks are performed on time. There’s nothing worse than getting frustrated because of past deadlines despite feeling overworked anyway. Let’s make sure that you truly master remote time management instead!
People pleasing is top priority
“Can you quickly help me out with something?”. Of course, we want to be friendly and helpful, so we usually agree. We unexpectedly drop whatever we’re doing to dedicate just 5 minutes of our time… Not to mention that it usually takes longer than that, we completely forget what we were up to, and our deep work becomes scattered. Try to avoid such situations to ensure top remote time management. Ask yourself about your priorities first. If you have a deadline coming up by the end of the day focus on ensuring you’re on time. So, you may just respectfully respond: “Sure, I’ll help you out but in two hours” or ask if it’s urgent in the first place.
Maybe it can wait, and you don’t need to engage yourself in the topic right away.
Using all communication channels at once ensures a response
You are actively attending a remote meeting, but you can’t really focus. Why? Because you see hundreds of messages popping up via Slack, e-mail, and your phone at the same time. Someone desperately wants to get in touch with you and since you’re not responding on one channel, they’re trying every possibility. Sounds familiar? So, to ensure great remote time management, choose one channel for urgent messages. Let others know that you check it regularly, and you’ll respond at your earliest convenience. This way you’ll avoid being bombarded from every direction. If someone still doesn’t care about your rule, it’s their loss.
The more consequence there is in your actions, the better others will understand how much you value time and work quality.
Immediate responses prove engagement
When we work remotely then our team doesn’t see us all the time. So, when we get a message, we feel like we should immediately respond to show that we “are at work”. If we don’t get back to someone asap, they may think that we’re doing the laundry instead work working… This is nonsense and leads to burnout. Great remote time management ensures that we can’t possibly let ourselves be overwhelmed with notifications where someone is pinging us for whatever reason. My recommendation is to determine clear rules concerning the response time. Tell others about your working preferences and agree on implementing good practices that don’t require constant messaging but rather asynchronous communication.
Now you’ve gotten to know the four major obstacles that make remote time management difficult. I’ve also shared several tips on how to overcome them. Anyway, there’s one aspect that I haven’t elaborated on. Here I mean curiosity. When we receive notifications or others want to ask questions, we tend to be curious, so we open the message or immediately get into the conversation. Right? This needs to stop. Our priorities should always come first and it’s about training ourselves to master consequence and assertiveness. This must be a step-by-step process with no surprise to our surrounding. Let’s talk about it with our team members to make sure that there are no hurt feelings in the end.