As technology continues to allow us to expand the office much further than the physical confines of a building,the traditional 9-to-5 workplace is beginning to become a thing of the past.
At the Keller Williams Realty International headquarters we’ve toyed around with telecommuting for years, testing it out here and there. Recently, we switched to a ‘flex-time’ work week because the benefits just can’t be ignored. Overall our employees enjoy getting to have more control over their schedule and productivity hasn’t suffered one bit.
But that doesn’t mean the transition is completely smooth every step of the way. Without oversight and structure, planning your workday takes a little more effort. Battling distractions takes even more preparation and willpower. People that are able to get more done in less time no matter where they work are the ones who have mastered time blocking.
Turn your nontraditional work schedule into a productivity powerhouse with these time blocking tips.
Break It Down to 15-Minute Blocks
Breaking your workday into 15-minute blocks may seem overly granular, but it gives you much tighter control than simply having a laundry list of to-dos for the day. Breaking things into smaller chunks allows you to factor in simple tasks that aren’t big but need to be accounted for on a schedule. Going granular also reduces the chance of having large tasks creep up on you during the day.
Base the Blocks on Your Natural Work Rhythm
Are you more productive first thing in the morning like most people? Or do you do your best work in the late afternoon? The beauty of a flexible work schedule and telecommuting is being able to work when you’re most productive.
Instead of trying to fully conform to a 9-to-5 schedule at home, time block personal work during your most productive hours. When employees are working from home, performance is based on completing work and hitting deadlines. As long as you do that, no one will care if you worked at 6am or 6pm.
Account for Downtime
Time blocking is most effective when you take every activity into account, even your downtime. If not, activities have a way of creeping together and throwing your entire schedule off track.
When you don’t have others around it’s also easy to get focused on work and forget to take a break. It’s not uncommon for people to work eight hours straight thinking plugging away means being productive. In reality, the social aspect of an office can improve productivity —we all need short mental breaks to help our exhausted brains recharge.
Strategically schedule short 15-minute breaks every few hours. Here’s a portion of a schedule for an example:
9am-10am – Finalize project A
10:00-10:30am – Call with client A
10:30-10:45am – Stretch and eat a snack
10:45-11:15am – Check emails
11:15am-12:00pm – Research for project B
12:00-12:30pm – Call with supervisor
12:30-1pm – Eat lunch
Controlling the tempo of your workday plays a big role in productivity. It’s a balancing act of knowing when you’re firing on all cylinders and when you need time to recoup.
Plan Around Distractions
Let’s assume you’re the parent of an elementary aged child who gets out of school at 3pm every day. After you pick your kid up it usually takes them a good half hour to settle down once you’re home. Getting right back to work during this period is an uphill battle.
Instead of trying to fight the distractions, project ahead and plan around them. In the scenario above you could make the half-hour time block after school part of your downtime or plan something simple like checking your email.
In non-traditional work environments there are going to be unique distractors. It may take you a few weeks to learn what they are, but once you do, look for ways to either eliminate them or work around them.
Other successful companies like Amazon and Dell are switching to a 30-hour workweek in their offices and are embracing flex schedules. It’s a trend that will continue as long as employees prove productivity can happen outside of a cubicle.
Want to maximize how much gets done every day no matter where you work? Then check out the Time Blocking Mastery Course. It’s your 66-day success plan!