Friday, July 19, 2024

Remote work time management skills: Staying productive with a virtual office

You’re feeling productive, focused and ready to tackle challenging tasks throughout the day.

But an hour has passed and suddenly you’re bombarded with distractions.

Working remotely with a virtual office gives a newfound sense of freedom, autonomy and flexibility like no other. However, it can be challenging to consistently nail your time management skills to ensure you complete important tasks.

Let’s go through some tips to improve your time management skills that will not only improve your productivity but also work-life balance.

Create a to-do list

This old-school time management skill has stuck around for a good reason.
Even if making lists isn’t part of your habit, it should definitely be considered as part of your effective time management tools repertoire. When working remotely through a virtual office the biggest challenge you might face is feeling overwhelmed or distracted.
A to-do list breaks your tasks based on what needs to be completed immediately versus long-term. Having your objectives written in front of you in bite-sized information can also make finishing tasks more encouraging. At the end of the day, make sure to refer back to your list and set your priorities for the following day.
Try to incorporate checkpoints in your list by breaking up tasks, as this will be a greater indication of your efficiency in finishing important and urgent tasks. Manage one task at a time and be honest with your progress if improving time management skills is a genuine goal of yours.
  • Summarizes your day
  • Sets bite-sized goals
  • Allows prioritization
  • Creates accountability

Recreate your office routine

You don’t literally have to commute to the office, but this tip is about creating a similar routine to it. 
The average commuter wakes up by a specific time and has packed their lunch for the day. Instead of cooking lunch during your break, make sure it’s already prepared to ensure you’re sticking to a schedule. 
It’s tempting to take lengthier breaks, but this will only damage your practical time management skills. Try waking up close to the time you used to when going to the office and replace the act of commuting with a walk. 
The consistency of this routine will train and prepare your mind for productivity. You can accomplish this easier by mimicking your previous office desk setup, taking lunch breaks at the same time, logging on and off at the right hours.

Improve decision making skills

Working remotely with a virtual office awards autonomy like no other.
But this also presents a great opportunity for honing your decision-making skills. Even employees that work under their manager will still need to improve their decision-making skills since remote conditions inherently require them. 
An infographic that illustrates a roadmap for decision making skills.

Decision-making is key to developing time management skills and is something that takes time. Over time, do your best always to have a plan, understand the context, limit your choices, set deadlines, evaluate outcomes and learn from your experience.

As you become faster and more effective at making the right decisions, your time management skills will also benefit.

Moderate your distractions

Good time management skills rely on mitigating distractions, and there are plenty of those at home.

Whether it’s the TV, phone, family or chores, do your best to set up a home office away from those distractions. Mute social media notifications during work hours and limit how many non-work-related tasks you do.

It’s easy to get caught up in a few small chores, but before you know it, ten minutes have turned into 30 and you’re behind on important tasks. Save chores for before and after work or try to fit some in during your lunch if you must.

Use project management tools

Online applications such as Microsoft Teams, or Asana can be game changers for those needing to optimize and improve time management skills. 

Similar to creating a checklist, these applications offer a streamlined method for tracking project status, progress and enable real-time collaboration. Working effectively with colleagues is the first aspect that suffers in remote conditions, but project management tools can bridge the gap.

They inform all team members on who is responsible for what tasks, the time taken to complete them and are a convenient platform for instantaneous feedback.

Understand how meetings impact workflow

Virtual office workers typically have more online meetings.

Zoom calls have become a commonality and workers often schedule these on empty spaces in their calendars. The problem occurs when people place meetings in random slots without any thought, as this leads to fragmented time.

Fragmented time is the small windows of 15 to 30 minutes between meetings. If intentional, they can serve as downtime to prepare for the next meeting and provide a mental reset. But most aren’t doing this intentionally and consequently have little time to gain momentum in completing critical tasks.

This is a sign of poor time management skills and will result in hours of lost productivity over a week. Some meetings don’t hold the same importance as the task at hand, and it comes down to your prioritization to determine what should come first and when.

Refer back to your to-do list before selecting a time slot for a meeting.

Don’t micromanage

Managers often fear remote workers will take the wrong advantage of their working conditions. The thought of employees slacking off and doing the bare minimum has crossed most managers’ minds, which is often the leading cause for micromanaging.

Constantly checking progress with your team and dictating everything they do will maximize productivity, right? Well, not really.

Micromanagers waste their productivity levels by being overly involved in their team’s work. At the same time, they minimize the growth of their team members by not allowing them to manage their own time.

Oversight is still necessary as a manager, but so is trust. Time is the most valuable resource for a business and obsessing over workers’ time will only diminish yours.

Set reminders

It’s normal to forget the little things.

Secondary time management skills such as setting reminders can be crucial to ensure you don’t slip up when working remotely with a virtual office. Working from home arguably has a higher margin of error because there’s no one to bounce ideas off of quickly or a co-worker to remind you of some small tasks.

Set reminders for important emails you need to send or meetings that need preparation.

Use flexible workspaces

Some virtual office providers have coworking spaces and meeting rooms for clients. Days that require much collaboration on projects are best done in a shared work environment such as coworking. 

A shared workspace in Servcorp Chifley Tower

Time management skills have taught us that in-person collaboration is the fastest and most effective method. And if you’re looking for the best results, make sure to combine all of the tips above at a flexspace!

Check out our guide on what is a virtual office.

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Amy Menzies

Amy Menzies

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