Appears at www.coachthemindset.com/time
Today, more than ever, the line dividing work and life is much thinner and the need to have a healthy balance between our life and our work has never been greater.
- Many of us work from home full or part time. Our phones are always on, and we’re always working.
- For many, coworkers and even supervisors make up the main group with whom we interact socially in person, virtually, and on social networks. We don’t want to miss a lead, a deal, a share on our social media.
- Employees seek a greater emphasis on the need for meaning and life purpose in their careers.
Things Are Not Normal
What is Normal Anyway?
The pandemic has an impact on or has caused us to rethink
The way we work – work from home, remote, work-space redesign, flexible schedules.
The way we communicate with others – Social Distancing, In-person/online/social media.
The way we care for ourselves – Mental and physical wellness.
The way we spend money – Financial and global uncertainty, job-security, furloughs.
Employee burnout is up, as is the demand for mental health services.
According to Forbes: “7 in 10 employees consider the Covid-19 pandemic the most stressful time of their career—even more than traumatic events like 9/11. This has led to higher rates of anxiety, stress and insomnia, as well as substance abuse and suicide.”
Alcohol consumption is up, as is binge drinking.
Unhealthy eating is on the rise and exercise is down (although starting to pick up a little.)
Productivity is down. JP Morgan recently stated that productivity has been down from work-from-home employees of all age groups.
What to do?
Waiting for things to “go back to normal” is setting expectations that will never be met. Accepting reality is the key to being resilient. While the demand for masks and disinfecting wipes might decrease, things will never be normal like before.
Create Your Own Normal
Creating your own normal means accepting that society has changed and adapting to it. It means understanding that many of the norms and rules that we are used to no longer exist. It means that you now have the flexibility to think outside the box, while also being mindful of new situations.
Create your own normal through scheduling, but also by being flexible and uniquely you. There are four main categories of time management that will be your key to success:
1. Time for Work 2. Time for You 3. Time for Others 4. Time is Money
Time for Work
You may be working remotely or in a new setting. There can be increased distractions which can hurt your productivity.
Make a schedule including breaks – Many businesses are becoming more flexible, but it’s important to have regularly scheduled breaks and create a schedule that meets your needs.
|Take a midday nap or workout, and make up the work at a different time that works for you. Don’t be afraid to break the schedule and be flexible. Don’t force yourself to work if you’re not feeling in a rhythm.|
Communicate with your employer / employees – It is very important to communicate your needs to your employer. Additionally, as a business owner/manager, it’s important to communicate expectations clearly, on both ends, regarding performance, schedules, and support.
Time in the office – Make your home or work office comfy. Conditions in the office may have changed. You are your own office manager if you’re working from home.
Time to be productive – Schedule time for “deep work” and focusing when there are no distractions.
|Get a comfortable chair and headset and position all equipment ergonomically. Get yourself some fun lighting or decorations for your home office or customize your actual office. This is your workspace; you need to be the best you.|
Time for your career – It’s a great time to advance skills, gain licenses and certification. Many online services offer the new ability to gain certifications or licenses. More than just your current position, evaluate your purpose, your mission, your cause.
|Create your own normal: Maybe budget some time to pursue your personal career ideas, side hustle, blog, online network through LinkedIn. Again, schedule it in your calendar.|
Time for You
You need to take care of yourself. Employee wellbeing is a top concern for employees this year.
Time for Your Body – We always make excuses to avoid exercise, but our health is crucial now. Many of us were not as active during the pandemic and it’s tough to get back into a routine.
|Create your own normal: Use new technologies for online physical health and wellness or flexible options for gyms and fitness studios. In some ways, it’s much more convenient to work out now. If you work out at home, even create a space that is good for that activity.|
Time for Your Mind – Mental health is a crucial activity. Anxiety and uncertainty are way up. Addiction and abuse are up as well. Mental health no longer means driving to a therapist, waiting in a waiting room, or having uncomfortable experiences. Mental health professionals and coaches are much more accessible through digital platforms.
|Create your own normal:: Many psychiatrists and therapists are now allowed to see patients virtually. Coaches have always been accessible through video communication. There are also a variety of apps for mental health, meditation, journaling, etc.|
Time for Your Soul – Be sure to incorporate moments to pause and re-energize through meditation, some form of mindfulness, and thought . If you are religious, be sure to add times to your schedule and inform others of your schedule changes.
Healthy habits and routines – Being home more can often lead to unhealthy eating and sleep schedules. It can be easy to fall into a habit of overworking, and we are not effective when we are burnt out, tired, and eating junk. With exciting sports, global news, and social media, do not neglect your important sleep. Even the US Army has stressed the importance of strategic napping.
|Create your own normal: Take random naps at unconventional times if it gives you energy. Schedule your meals in advance and have scheduled snack breaks.|
Time for Others
While it’s important to focus on yourself and your work, there are other individuals in our life that either need our attention, or want our attention. It’s important to know the difference. The pandemic may have allowed us to rethink our relationships with our family, friends, roommates, and co-workers (who may be friends.) It’s also allowed us to reconsider how and when we communicate with some of them.
Time with Friends – As we come out of our isolation, the type of activities in which we participate and those with whom we engage may have changed. You may not want to go to public locations or crowds, while some of your friends may. Your time is valuable and it’s important to engage in activities that are good for you and healthy.
|Create your own normal: Use phone calendars or make scheduled time for social interactions with friends and don’t have FOMO or cancel. However, be flexible if your friends cancel on you and find ways to be productive through some other activity.|
Time for Family/Partner/Signifcant Other – Just because you are in the same residence as family or live nearby, doesn’t mean that you are making time for them. Even if you are taking care of all their needs, children require and deserve undivided attention with their parent/s or caretakers.. Schedule 1-on-1 time together with your children, for which they determine the activity. Like above, be committed to this time, but be flexible and dynamic if the other person cancels. It’s important to strengthen family relationships that may not be as strong as before the pandemic due to less face-to-face time. Many are also caring for other family or elderly parents or grandparents. Scheduling will also assist with this; sometimes it’s worth paying for services if it means that you can have more time to be productive, but do not lose the personal interactions.
Time for Technology – While there may be more awareness of the importance of digital health and wellness, technology and social media can interfere with our productivity and steal much precious time. Additionally, it can cause unnecessary anxiety. There is no question that technology has helped us during this time to be informed, connected, and productive while isolated. However, we have all spent unnecessary time playing games, reading news, blogs, reddit, and of course Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
|Use your devices and platforms to save your time, not waste your time.|
Be honest with yourself about what is necessary and what is not. There are a variety of applications to monitor and limit overuse of certain apps and device time. Review whom you follow and interact with on social media, and decide if it is healthy and important to you, and don’t have FOMO about what you are missing. Use newly popular tech to bring important people closer to you than they were before. FaceTime or send a video message to someone whom you previously only texted or sent a DM.
Turn off your device during deep work time and during ‘deep leisure’ time. Every alert on your phone is a call for instant gratification, that can take you out of a level of focus that was necessary for what you were doing. It takes 23 minutes to recover from a distraction at work/ Plug your phone into the charger outside your office when you work, outside your bedroom when you sleep, and create a morning routine before you check your email.
|Create your own normal: If you can work mobile, find a hotspot such as a public park, cafe with outdoor or spacious seating, or anywhere even more exotic. Use recent technology advancements and new norms of what is acceptable to help you focus.|
Time is Money
While the pandemic may have taught us the value of life, health, and experiences, the need for money management is as important as ever. You now have to be the CFO of your life in which all purchases are scrutinized.
Our income and shopping habits have changed, and we may be making purchase decisions impulsively, or based on convenience, health concerns, or availability. Individuals are relying on food delivery services or fast delivery on products from online retailers for home needs, which may be more expensive. Having time will enable you to save money and make smart purchases, and having money will allow you to use services that save you time.
|Create your own normal: Schedule times to splurge rather than make it impulsive. Budget and schedule ‘order-in’ times. Set rules on purchases, such as “every purchase decision over X amount needs to be put in a cart for your internal CFO to review, and then make the decision to purchase the next day.”|
Bringing it all together through planning, flexibility, and reflection.
The key to success with time management is to organize all of the above, and make a mental budget of your time, and possibly an actual written down budget of how you spend your time each day or week.
Create your own normal by doing what works for you. It may involve using apps and calendars on your phone or in the cloud. It may be a big family wall calendar in your kitchen. It may just be all something you keep in your head.
Make time to plan and to have fixed schedules until you are comfortable with your own normal. You owe yourself the time to reflect and communicate with yourself. There are many ways to do this in the morning, evening, or by writing things down.
Be dynamic, be flexible, be you.
Creating your own normal means to be you and to define your own rules with what is smart and what helps you. Scheduling, lists, calendars aren’t necessarily for everyone, and schedules will not always work out. When things don’t work as planned, reflect and contemplate what you can do better, and tweak your strategy.
Ultimately, technology will play a huge role in our ability to manage time. Pay attention to how you can use technology to be productive and effective, and eliminate habits that will rob you of your most precious asset… your time.
Use the clock chart on the following page to fill in your own minutes.
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