Despite the fact that I worked out of my home office before quarantine, I recently had to make some changes to my office setup. The space that worked for me pre-quarantine just wasn’t supporting my needs and new routines now. And this is coming from someone who was already had been able to work from home – so I know how challenging this adjustment is for those of you who are used to working elsewhere.  

I think many of us would agree that our physical work environments have changed drastically since this began.

Maybe you’re now sharing a home office with a spouse, or working from one end of the kitchen table while kids work on remote schoolwork at the other end. If yours is like my home, there may be more noise happening during the day than you’re used to hearing while you’re working. Even your pets may expect more of your time and attention than you’re able to give (a pretty good problem, all things considered and I know it can all build up…). 

Whatever’s going on in your home, it’s so normal to be struggling with time management and productivity right now. Embracing new routines is critical here.

We simply can’t lean on our old routines because they don’t exist right now.

If you were used to getting social interaction by walking around the office and chatting with colleagues, for example, that’s part of your day that’s isn’t happening in the same way anymore. This is just one of a hundred ways your routines may have shifted. All this upheaval tends to add to feelings of overwhelm, making effective time management really challenging.  

Luckily, we’ve already spent enough time navigating this strange new reality that you should have acquired some data about what is working for you so far. Thinking back over the past few weeks can help you get really clear about the best way to move forward as you work from home.  

Time Management as You Work From Home: Two Questions to Answer 

Do you feel like you’re constantly swinging between “scrambling to get everything done” and “worried and freaked out about the world” modes? When you’re in that kind of constantly heightened state, it’s easy to overlook subtle things, like the ways your environment is supporting and/or challenging you. Answering these two questions may help you hone in on better solutions moving forward.  

1. What in your environment has been working well over the last week? 

Even if you haven’t been as productive as you’d like, you’ve probably had some days or hours when you were able to really focus and get things done. Are there certain times of day, or spaces in your home where you’ve been able to be especially productive? Are there certain kinds of snacks or background music that helped you focus? If you’re at home with family members, how were they occupied when you were at your most productive?  

You may have found productivity in strange places. Maybe you had a really productive client call at 10 p.m., or found that you were able to do some creative brainstorming while hiding in your closet from the kids. Maybe you got your best work done after a quick yoga session or a midday bubble bath. This will be different for all of us! But figure out what worked well for you so you can build on that.  

2. What in your environment really messed with your productivity last week? 

Which distractions most affected your ability to focus? Were there physical discomforts in your environment? Are you spending all or most of your time sitting in a chair that’s not comfortable? Is the lighting in your work space making you squint, causing headaches or making the room feel gloomy? Are you feeling too restless from sitting in the same room all the time? 

Naming these barriers to productivity lets you dismantle them. Fixes can be as simple as:

  • Changing out light bulbs
  • Packing up some work to do outdoors on a nice day
  • Try setting up a work space that allows you to stand sometimes during video meetings.

Be mindful of external distractions, too; if checking the news or scrolling through social media sends you into a worry spiral that derails your time management strategies, you might decide to check those feeds only at the end of the day.  

The way you work may look a little different than you’re used to right now, but I want you to know that peaceful productivity is still possible – even now. Be gentle with yourself and reach out when you need help. I’m here to support you through this time however I can.  

Need some extra support?  Check out my Jump Start Your Productivity LIVE Virtual Workshop. We started this week and if you register by April 24th, I’ll get you caught up and ready for the next meeting.   

Details and Registration Here.

Because the world is, quite frankly, a little bit crazy pants right now and you are part of my community:  

Use the Promo Code: STARTNOW  
when you register and you will get the Early Bird Pricing. 

I want to help you as much as I can! 

Be well,  

Sarah Reiff-Hekking