One of the biggest problems that can be found in any modern business: time management skills.
Readers of this blog want their teams to be passionate and dedicated, yes—but we also want teams that know how to prioritize and manage their time while working, too.
Here are 5 realities about healthy time management that we’ve learned as a 100% remote company:
1. Batch tasks or activities to be more efficient
One of the ways I stay time is to batch certain activities or work together. I call this “batching” as I’ve heard others describe it (or I’ve heard it called “time batching”,) but there may be another name for this strategy to set aside a block of time for a certain project.
Take for example social media work; if I allocate a certain “block” of time to social media management each day, I find I can be more efficient than if I randomly work on social media throughout the week.
For one, there’s less of that start-up time or time wasted that comes when you switch tasks or go back and forth between work. Second, for some reason I’m able to be much more focused when I batch certain tasks this way. I think it’s because my thoughts are able to be laser-focused on just one thing.
Maybe for you (or those you are coaching or leading), you can use this strategy for a certain client or maybe it’s dedicating a certain block of time to a project. Whether the case may be, doing as much as you can for just one project (or just one activity) is a great way to reduce distraction and to streamline how you work.
2. Managing time is about managing energy
Instead of thinking about how I manage time in my day, I try to think about how I’m best utilizing my energy each day. After all, your energy isn’t unlimited. You only have so much energy in one day, so this can add structure to your day so you do tasks that require more mental energy sooner in your day—or, if you are an afternoon or night-time person, perhaps that’s later in your day.
What that looks like for me: if I need to write an article or blog post, for example, I know that takes a certain level of mental clarity and a good deal of energy for me. Even though I enjoy it, I need to have a high degree of energy to do my best on that task. I’m much better off writing earlier in the day, if not first thing in my day, rather than late in the day.
I’m more efficient and the work output is better that way. When able, that means I schedule more of my meetings in the afternoon, so that frees up time in the morning for writing and other tasks I need to accomplish that are best with a clear head.
People who have been working for years do this naturally, but keep this in mind when working with younger generations or people new to your company. They might not have learned this yet, so you can offer up advice to them to help them structure their day so they match up tasks with their energy levels and so they don’t burn out, either.
3. Reduce meetings
Every organization is going to have a different kind of cadence and norm, but challenge the status quo of how often you meet. Often times, organizations can become reliant on recurring meetings that really have no purpose, yet they pull people out of work for a number of hours.
Use this guide to help you minimize unproductive meetings:
- Make sure every meeting has a desired
outcome. If you aren’t sure what you are meeting about, it might not be a
relevant meeting. Remember that if you are interrupting and pulling people away
from work, you want to be sure there is a clear reason for doing so.
- Make sure each meeting has a lead or “owner.”
Ever been on a conference call with dozens of people and you aren’t sure who is
leading the meeting? If there is no one at least somewhat leading the
meeting, it could be sign there is an issue.
- Ensure that everyone has a role in the
meeting. Meetings are productive when people bring contribution, updates,
or relevant findings or information to those meetings. It sounds obvious, but
make sure anyone included on a meeting invite is contributing in some way to
That means there needs to be a clear expectation that anyone invited to a meeting should be prepared for that meeting. If they have nothing to share, then maybe they don’t need to be included in the meeting. Remember that depending on how long the person has been with your company or what organization they may come from, that might not be a clear expectation, so be sure that’s known, if your team adopts that mentality.
- Don’t (always) default to a meeting. Sometimes when there is confusion or a decision needs to be made, it’s effective to have a meeting to have healthy dialogue and debate over the right course of action. But make sure you don’t always default to a meeting each and every time there is a decision or each and every time there is a problem. It’s going to depend on your culture, but be sure meetings don’t become some form of busywork.
4. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do “now”
Debbie Millman, a prolific writer, designer, educator, artist, and host of the podcast “Design Matters”, said it best when she talked about how many of us don’t prioritize what matters most.
She argues that many times, we use excuses to explain why we can’t do something that we say we want to do. She says:
Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something they say that they want to do, the excuse “I am too busy” is the least likely to be true. I don’t believe in “too busy.” I think that “busy” is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.” It means you would rather be doing something else that you consider more important…
Her point is this: when we say we’re too busy for something, in many circumstances, it may just be an excuse. We all have to make the decision to be honest with ourselves about what we want to do, what we intend to do, and it’s up to us to make time for the things we really care about. It’s not always as simple as that, but reflection on prioritization and true sources of why we are procrastinating can go a long way.
5. Turn it off
We can focus so much on all the tactics or strategies that help us with time management, but one of the best ways to be able to be as productive as possible is to be sure we unplug and that we actually stop working each day.
Did you know that a study of Americans found they we check our phones as much as 80 times a day? (1) And for remote workers, this can be even more of a problem.
A few ways you may want to adopt this mentality include:
- Stop working on anything related to work (even thinking about work) at least 1.5 hours before you plan on going to sleep;
- Take a lunch break each and every day—so that means no multi-tasking or working while you eat;
- Set boundaries as to how much you work;
- Take short breaks—possibly to walk—during the day, without technology.
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We’re making compliance #MoreHuman so you can be as meaningfully productive as possible each day. Get started and get all your Labor Law posters here.
Kim Geiger leads the eSign division at Edoc Service, Inc., a totally remote company. Digital Labor Laws is a subdivision of eSign.
Edoc is a team that’s passionate about transforming how business is done in America. Kim–and Edoc–are champions of remote work, which is why Edoc offers tools and services to other companies to help them be more productive, more collaborative—and often times, more virtual.