Time Management

82 STASHED IDEAS

When you're working from home, don't work more. Use that flexibility to bring more balance in your life, not less.

There's no commute when we work remotely, which can easily add extra hours to our day. It can be tempting to pour these hours into work. Working longer often means burnout, which means doing less. It is best to make a routine to prevent work from consuming our day.

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@juan_bb586

Time Management

If you work longer than reasonable, consider creating a system that ends your work session.

You could wrap up your day by reviewing what you spent time on and what got done. Look at your completed tasks from your to-do list and check your time-tracking app. You may find that you accomplished a lot, which could bring closure to your day and help you to stop working.

Remote work is about trust. Research shows that remote workers put in more hours, so any time-tracking may be a waste of time.

Moreover, micromanaging gives a message that employees won't do their jobs unless someone is watching over their shoulder. That message can be demoralising.

Remote workers work more

Loving your job often means that you may be working more. It's harder to stop when you care.

It's deceptive to think that remote work means that you can start and stop whenever you want. Bloomberg reported that people who started working from home since the beginning of the pandemic are working three hours longer per day.

When we work remotely, we don't have to replicate the nine-to-five workday. Remote work means you have flexibility, so you can order your work that will suit you.

Some people will split their days into two four-four blocks, with a four-hour break in the middle. Others may swap a weekday morning for a weekend one. Ensure that your coworkers are aware of when you are and aren't working.

Taking strides forward on virtual workings

So that we may be able to make a significant change we must reassess the way we communicate with each other at work.

Many schedule wasteful meetings that are evidently not helpful most of the time. In order to reduce overworking, we need to communicate policies and expectations to workers clearly but this doesn't mean we should micromanage them.

When we end presenteeism in our work culture, we are establishing a healthier habit of knowing when to log off.

Short-term fixes for cognitive dysfunction
  • In order to reduce the beta waves our brain makes, it's important to take a break here and there and do something that will relax your brain - preferably not involving a screen.
  • By doing so, your brain will begin to produce alpha waves. We'll become more and engaged and focused on our tasks.
  • When we take breaks it allows us to rest and maintain better brain health throughout the day because it helps restore alpha waves which restore our cognitive function.
Working virtually is taxing
  • Since shifting into a more virtual work situation our workday has been proven to be lengthed by more than an hour and meetings extended for a full 10 minutes longer.
  • As we feed into these longer working hours it causes us to have higher chances for cognitive overhead. We may not be aware of it but our brains aren't wired to look at a flat image of a person on a grid.
  • Our brain produces beta waves every time we process a lot of information at once and then our brain starts to slow down.

When we prepare for tomorrow, it gives us a big boost in productivity levels; 1. Because we'll be able to plan out our day without worrying about what gets left behind; and 2. Prioritizing tasks is not as hard as it seems.

Anxiety for what's to come tomorrow happens every so often that we tend to lose sleep over it. When we prepare we will have lower anxiety levels, therefore, getting a better quality of sleep instead of being sleep deprived.

Dressing up actually has a real influence on your attention levels because it symbolizes the start of a new day and it helps your brain to shift gears.

A study was done back in 2012 related to the effect of clothing on a person's mental process. Evidently, it showed that you perform differently when wearing a suit or a scientist's lab coat and even get better intelligence scores.

Multitasking slows down productivity by about 40% and actually has long-term negative effects on our brain such as memory impairment on new subject matters, difficulty in learning new materials, and increased stress levels.

It is recommended to transition into the habit of monotasking where you focus on one task at a time. It will take a few weeks to get used to it but daily practice for more than a couple of weeks will be able to retrain your brain for longer focus.

By the time you wake up, it is important to choose to be proactive and not stay reactive while interchangeably scrolling through your phone's apps.

Spend this time to think about your priorities for the day and run through your calendar to make a to-do list. It's a huge mistake to start the day without knowing what you intend to do.

Not Prioritizing Calm
  • Starting the day off on a note of anxiety instead of calm will carry on throughout the rest of the day.
  • Mornings tend to be chaotic most especially if you're trying to cram everything to be done in the morning all at once.
  • Peace looks different for every individual thus it can look like meditating for 10 minutes or just having a quiet breakfast.
  • When it comes to productivity, slow and steady wins the race.
Skipping Breakfast and Hydration

Skipping breakfast is not ideal when starting a new day. It is important to take care of your body, provide it enough food to create energy in order for you to focus on the things that you have going on for the rest of the day.

The most recommended breakfast is a balanced breakfast containing both protein and carbs. Alongside this, it is also important to drink enough water to hydrate the body and the brain. Even mild dehydration can impair one's mood, memory, and concentration.

Forcing Yourself To Wake Up Early

When we force ourselves to wake up early and fail to do so we tend to beat ourselves up over it. However, we must keep in mind that we are wired differently according to Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project.

It doesn't matter what time we wake up as long as we're able to finish the tasks that are supposed to be done with the schedule it won't make a difference whether you wake up at 5 AM or 10 AM as long as you act deliberately within schedule.

  • Managers can work in time blocks of 30 or 60 minutes, scheduling meetings or sending emails.
  • Makers need almost half a day to get down and create something, requiring an uninterrupted focus mode that is nearly impossible.

What complicates matters is that many managers who are managing the makers think of time as short blocks and try to break the focused time of the makers, requesting them to juggle work or multitask, which kills any productivity or quality with the unending context switching.

The real problem according to experts, is making the switch between managing and making, due to the fact that our brain does not immediately obey us and is stuck on the work that was happening earlier, something known as attention residue.

We can take the help of certain rituals and routines that can help us switch between the two modes, like taking a walk, a few minutes of deep breathing, a short burst of exercise or even a slow cup of coffee.

Fighting For Our Focus

Scheduling of work falls into two broad categories: Makers and Managers. Most of us are either managing people and projects or making something, like documents, apps or other creative things that require sustained focus.

Our attempt to balance our managing time with our making time is the fight for our focus, and creates the core problem that overwhelms most of us.

None of us can get creative in short 15-minute bursts of work sandwiched between a mandatory meeting and a sales team call. It is also a myth that people work for 8 to 10 hours a day.

Most people are productive in sporadic periods of time, like 15 minutes, followed by an interruption, then for 20 minutes, followed by a commitment/obligation/meeting and so on.

We need to align our schedules with our goals and create a strategy that helps us focus on deep work.

  1. Use a time-tracking app and review the kind of activities that are done during the day and how much time the activities take.
  2. Categorize those activities as ‘maker’ or ‘manager’.
  3. Find the daily patterns and use that information to schedule your ‘maker time’.
  4. Keep an eye on the stuff that interrupts you the most and try to eliminate or minimize the same.
  5. Take a review at the end of each week to make some tweaks in your schedule.

A way to organize our schedule is to split the days in our week into two categories, marking our calendar as:

  1. Manager Days: Only focusing on pairing, syncing, answering, meeting and doing managing and follow up work.
  2. Maker Days: Only focusing on deep work, without interruption, meetings or any other activity that shifts the mind.
  • If splitting of weekdays between managing and making is strictly followed, it makes our day focus clear and we can happily ignore emails and other stuff on our ‘maker’ days.
  • Others have clear expectations and the seemingly urgent requests can easily be filtered out.
  • If you are not always available, it can also facilitate other solutions.
  • Not everyone can commit full days of deep focus work, or even manage the whole day.
  • We can refer to our body clocks, energy levels and working style to create a day calendar splitting blocks of hours in a way that we have half a day, or about three to four hours of focus time, while the rest of the day can be for other activities.
  • One can get into a state of flow every day and still have scheduled office hours to work on meetings, emails and other stuff.

Many note-taking apps can mimic the functionality of the Zettelkasten system but have certain limitations like few backup options, and loss of insight links in case of a shutdown of the app. Others offer pristine functionality of the idea filing and linking system but have the same proprietary and database concerns.
The best way is to go manual and build a word file using hypertext links, notes and references.

One can try a mix and match approach, making sure that one is able to:

  1. quickly start a new idea or note.
  2. quickly link two or more notes.
  3. able to retrieve a note easily.
  4. is synced and is usable in multiple devices.

The Zettelkasten way or the ‘slip box’ method was pioneered by Niklas Luhmann, is an always-on, filing system that one can use to categorize and ‘slip’ any new insight or idea in a separate file or cabinet.

With this method, any new idea or insight now has a readymade home where it can be placed easily, with the growing collection facilitating new projects and cross-connections.

Zettelkasten: An Indexing System For Ideas
  • The way to collect ideas using the Zettelkasten Method is to use a branching card system, where numbers and letters are used to ‘address’ or pinpoint the sequence as well as the branching hierarchy of an idea.
  • A card address can be 1/1, or ½, or 1/2a based on the idea and connecting ideas it has.
  • Another method is to add references at the bottom of the cards, jotting down the addresses of ‘related’ ideas, making cross-referencing easier.
  • This method is similar to hypertext and URLs of the digital age, though in a completely analogue form.

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