In my first blog post of this series, I encouraged each of you to try to understand what might be stealing your time. To be continually successful in understanding this, we need to think of it in terms of a never-ending circle. I would like you to take a few minutes and start listing what is taking your time away now.
Each of us is in a different situation, facing challenging times, no matter our work location. I am hoping that over the last five months you have learned how to carve out a bit of time for the things you want to get done for yourself, and you now have some “extra” time.
I believe most of you fall into one of these categories:
- You are still working from your plant/office
- You have recently returned to working from your plant/office
- You are working from home
If you are still working from your plant, consider what has changed to give you extra time. Are some colleagues working from home? If so, there are likely fewer meetings to attend, and fewer calls and emails to answer. When everyone is back to work at the plant/office, you may lose your extra time due to the increased number of meetings, calls and emails. It will be as though people are trying to make up for lost time, trying to pull that time back from you. This is important: if there were no gaps, then it seems as though your plant was operating well without all of the meetings, calls and emails. You should not be afraid to permanently adopt the same habits that helped you find your extra time.
If you are still working from your plant and nothing has changed, congratulations on truly carving out extra time!
If you have recently returned to your plant/office after time spent working from home, try to remember and write down everything you did prior to the COVID-19 disruption, and then begin to track all of the things you do now that you are back in the plant/office. You should notice that you have gained extra time. Even though you probably had many virtual meetings, it is likely that your days were not consumed with them in the way they were prior to COVID-19. As your plant/office returns to a more normal environment, start questioning yourself and others as to whether a meeting is really necessary when an email could accomplish as much. Be careful you don’t start falling back into those old inefficient habits.
If you are working from home, and most likely will be for a while, how are you adjusting? Do you find yourself getting behind? Some of you have an actual home office, while others must settle for the kitchen table. You may have kids running around the house or other distractions as you try to work. One suggestion for finding extra time while working from home is to keep a routine by starting and stopping work at the same time each day, as well as scheduling regular breaks and lunch. Also, think about how you work most productively. Do you feel more productive and comfortable at a desk, on a couch, on your porch, or even sitting in bed? I personally work most productively on my porch while wearing headphones listening to music. Headphones also discourage others in the household from interrupting. Start tracking your interruptions and how you might prevent them in the future.
We all still need to be tracking our activities as well as interruptions, just as we did at the start of this blog series. Understanding this is what will get us the time we need.
Next month, I will talk more about some of the challenges I hear about, and, as a team we will figure them out. I am almost at the end of this blog series and I am excited about what I want to share next. Feel free to contact me with ideas!