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Writing a Time Management Action Plan for Remote Teams

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More and more professionals find themselves in a remote working environment – at home, in another city, or even on the beach with a nice cocktail on one side and a laptop on the other. While one can find multiple benefits in remote work, there are still dangerous phenomena one must be aware of. Weak time management is one of the most common issues that affect remote workers’ productivity. Helping remote workers and remote team leaders write an effective time management action plan is the purpose of this article.

Three Principles of Time Management According to HBR

The topic of time management is so important that scholars and business professors writing for Harvard Business Review (HBR), have delved deeply into the subject of better management of time. These business leaders refer to the Three A’s of Time Management to help employees and staff make more efficient use of their time. We have adapted this concept specifically for remote workers working from home. We suggest these principles:

  • Awareness. Remote workers must have heightened awareness that time is a limited and scarce resource.  Gettysburg College estimates of the roughly 80 year lifespan, we spend about 9-10 years or 90,000 hours at work;
  • Arrangement. Remote workers run the risk of managing their time poorly. This is mainly due to increased inefficiencies and lower productivity searching for misplaced materials, documents and supplies. These essential work materials, contacts and necessary documents were readily found in the traditional workplace. Ever ready colleagues that were formally positioned at the adjacent cubicle,  are often no longer available at a whims notice because of flexible work schedules and differing time zones. It makes it increasingly difficult to find answers a quick question on a business process or receive work advice and guidance.
  • Adaptation. Remote workers are often interrupted. Further tele-commuters often have no one physically present that will alert them to upcoming deadlines to milestones and corporate goals.  This means that employees and staff working virtually must develop the self determination and self-initiation skills to monitor their progress toward corporate objectives and adapt their daily schedules accordingly.

See our brief video below for the 3 reasons why your virtual team members may need a time management plan.

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Fortunately, with these 3 time management principles in mind, the remote worker can easily develop a personal time management action plan. Further, distributed location employees and independent contractors can continue to achieve professional heights. It will be a good idea to share time management hints and techniques with your virtual teammates since the remote team should still work together on the common goal regardless of the distance between its distributed members.

Just Begin and You Won’t Stop!

Writing a time management action plan should start with research as many approaches may work for one person and be failing for another. You may either choose one technique or combine several of the most efficient personally for you. There are a lot of options to choose from, and here are some of the most popular ones:

  • The Pomodoro Technique: promotes the necessity of regular breaks.
  • SMART Goals: teaches critical thinking and gives true motivation to work on tasks.
  • Kanban Board: visualization of tasks and goals.
  • The Eisenhower box: an important framework that will help you avoid taking everything on your shoulders.
  • Pareto analysis: if 80% of desired results can be achieved within only 20% of the allotted time, then these tasks should be prioritized.

Universal Rules

While the techniques mentioned above are effective and often are supported by scientific research data, remote workers may also simply follow basic rules and still improve their time management quite substantially.

Say “No!” to Multitasking

It is a wise step since multitasking usually results in one’s inability to properly complete any of the assigned tasks and prolonged timeframe required for completion or even missed deadlines. Moreover, attempts to become a multitasking person mean no planning and wise time management is possible as one doesn’t know what other tasks can appear while they are working on another. As a result, a remote worker experiences only stress due to constant changes of plans, the overabundance of tasks, and inner dissatisfaction due to low work quality.

Track the Time You Spend

Remote work presupposes even more various distracting factors. Friends, family, social networks, and what about preparing dinner during working hours? Consider using a time tracker of your choice to avoid wasting time and have a drastic drop in productivity. This will help structure your day effectively as you can only manage your time when you measure how much time each thing takes. Spoiler alert: social networks are still the biggest distraction for remote workers.

Establish Motivating Rituals

Do you feel more productive after a refreshing shower, light workout, or when your favorite mug is at your desk? Or maybe you feel more concentrated when your favorite ambient music or sound of rain plays in the earphones? So, there is no need to refrain from using these small rituals especially when you are working from home and can set up a workspace to your liking. Many small things deserve to be included in your time management action plan if they help you to keep up the good work.

Have a Clear Focus

Having an understanding of what must be achieved during the day is essential for effective time management. This is especially important for remote workers who may have many other routine tasks to be done. In this case “eat the frog” approach might be useful as after completing the most complicated or important task first, the rest will be done easier. Another useful habit for remote workers would be reviewing the day for results and planning the working hours. Just a few minutes will help to avoid waste of time and working on less important tasks instead of concentrating on the high-value ones.

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Divide and Complete

Reviewing a huge task that needs to be completed may be somewhat demotivating and even trigger procrastination. Dividing one big project into small parts that can be handled easily within a short amount of time will help. It is extremely hard and exhaustive to complete the entire research paper within a day and all-nighter. It is much more efficient and less stressful to complete a literature review on Monday, a methodology section on Tuesday, write the discussion of the results on Wednesday and wrap everything up on Thursday. Sounds manageable and easy, isn’t it? The same rule applies to any task a remote worker may have at hand.

Lists and Plans

If you found yourself discussing work-related matters with your boss or team members while brushing your teeth or having breakfast, know that it is time to re-think your remote work approach quite substantially. There is time to work and time to rest, and they should not coincide. Otherwise, you won’t feel well-rested, and you won’t be able to work as productively as you can. Establish your schedule, stick to it, plan things to be done, get them done, and keep the list of completed tasks nearby to make you feel motivated. There is nothing you can’t do, let’s keep it this way.

Do Not Exclude Yourself from the Team

Remote work may appear to be a real gift for introverts, but working from home for a long time without any communication with colleagues may lead to the feeling of isolation. Do not think that this is not related to time management since that feeling causes a lack of motivation and slacking on the job. Online and offline meetings, feedback sessions, and comprehensive communication tools will result in better cooperation.

Final Thoughts

Remote teams’ members should spend some time developing their personal action plans so that they could work more efficiently instead of just working more to get the same volume of tasks done. It is not a coincidence that there are so many time management techniques to choose from as this is a matter of primary importance.

Author’s Bio

Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger at GetGoodGrade, an aggregator for useful college resources and websites. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.

Search Remotely is the world’s biggest one-stop platform helping remote companies to recruit the very best remote workers and scale up their remote teams globally.

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