February 27

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How to Work from Home, Keep Up With Everything, and Not Burn Out: Time Management Tools for Remote Work


In the office, time management is imposed “from above” — there are schedules, planning meetings, and the boss’s control. Remote work is more difficult: you need to be independent and be able to organize your time. And there is no one else who can prevent you from playing at Vave Casino or watching Netflix. Not planning tasks remotely is a sure way to cause stress, depression, and burnout.

 

These tools help you organize your working time, increase your productivity, and get less tired from work.

To-do List

A task planner is a time-management tool that helps you do the maximum number of things in a set time. If it’s properly compiled, it will be a rigid framework for work and will prevent procrastination.

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For keeping to-do lists, any app with notes or even a notebook will do. The main thing here is not the interface, but methodology and internal discipline.

 

Here are some general principles of keeping a to-do list:

  • The list should be in plain sight; no need to try to accomplish it from memory.
  • Cross off or mark off completed tasks; this creates a sense of progress and motivation.
  • Complete the list at the same time: for example, at the beginning of the working day or the night before.
  • Group similar tasks together: for example, if you need to wash the dishes and the kitchen floor, it’s better to do them at the same time.
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If the task is properly formulated, it’s easier to accomplish. Write it down in the imperative mood, and make sure it has a concrete and verifiable result.

 

No:

  • Go to the store.
  • Fish

 

Yes:

  • Buy bread, eggs, and chicken at Lidl.
  • Feed the fish in the aquarium.
  • To wish John Smith a happy birthday in a text message.

 

Here are a few methods of using a to-do list.

Eisenhower Matrix

This is a time-management method that helps you prioritize your time. It’s suitable if you need to differentiate between personal and work time and learn to plan a clear schedule.

 

The essence of the method is that we make a to-do list and divide it into four squares:

  • Urgent and important.
  • Non-urgent and important.
  • Urgent and unimportant.
  • Urgent and unimportant.
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The method helps us prioritize clearly. If we don’t consciously devote time to it, we will “automatically” choose urgent matters and push important matters to the background.

 

Urgent and important tasks need to be done right now. They usually have clear deadlines and tangible consequences. Fixing a tooth, buying medicine for your child, catching a project from a colleague on sick leave — all force majeure is included in this list. There shouldn’t be too many urgent and important activities; otherwise, you can get stressed and burn out. Here’s what you can do with them:

  • Set deadlines for all to-do tasks.
  • At the end of the week, review what you’ve accomplished.
  • If there are too many important urgent tasks or they come from outside, think about what to do about it (for example, talk to your boss about redistributing the workload).
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Non-urgent and important tasks are related to personal and professional growth. This includes sports, education, language learning, and other tasks that help you move toward long-term goals.

 

These things usually don’t have a deadline, so we put them off and replace them with things on the urgent list. For example, we finish a project and don’t go to the gym. To avoid this, you need to plan for non-urgent, important things.

 

Urgent and unimportant tasks include checking emails and messages, household chores, and other routine tasks. As a rule, other people expect you to do these things, but they don’t bring you closer to your goals.

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If there are a lot of such tasks, it may seem that you have a lot of time and are a busy person. To check if this problem exists, you can follow Warren Buffett’s advice and ask yourself at the end of the working day:

 

  • Have I become smarter today? What have I learned today?

 

If nothing, check whether there is too much to do in this square.

 

You can delegate urgent, unimportant tasks: order food from a delivery service, have a cleaning company do a general cleaning of your house, hire a wallpaper contractor.

 

Non-urgent and unimportant tasks are “time killers.” This square includes watching movies, social media scrolling, and other procrastination. In the long run, such things prevent you from achieving your goals.

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You can try to reduce the number of non-urgent, unimportant things and replace them with pleasant and useful rest, like sports, meditation, and a walk in the fresh air. And the main thing is that the rest is also a business and should be planned.

Rule 1-3-5

Try to plan no over 9 tasks for the day: one large, three medium, and five small tasks. This will help you not to put unpleasant tasks in a long box and not to sit all day over one or two large tasks. If 9 tasks a day turn out to be too many, adjust the rule to suit yourself.

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Eating the “Frog”

As Mark Twain said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be wonderful.” Business coach Brian Tracy advises starting the day with an important task that you don’t feel like doing at all. Then you’ll be more productive for the rest of the day.

Calendar

The Calendar app can be used as a more functional version of a to-do list. It will remind you of events and appointments, synchronize across multiple devices: for example, on your computer and smartphone.

Kanban Board

Kanban is a time management tool that originated in Toyota factories. There, workers regulated production using cards that were attached to boxes of parts. Each card had the number and quantity of parts, the name of the department that sends them, and the delivery address.

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For a personalized kanban, you need a sticker board, real or virtual. There must be three columns that reflect the current status of the tasks. For example:

  • “To do” — tasks to be done.
  • “In Progress” — things you’re doing now.
  • “Done” — things you have already completed.

 

There can be any number of columns — it depends on the specifics and stages of the work. Tasks are organized as cards that can be moved around the columns.

 

The sticker board is not the kanban itself, but only its tool. Kanban is the process of controlling and transferring tasks in columns. The method helps you visualize things to do and not accumulate more than you can do. Here are the principles of personal kanban:

  • Break down the work process into steps.
  • Visualize the process with a whiteboard.
  • Set a limit on the number of tasks that can be worked on at the same time.
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Kanban is good if you have a lot of things to do: it will encourage you to prioritize and not exceed your task limit.

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