Possibly the single greatest challenge associated with being a virtual team member and working remotely is time management.
To start, it’s vital to balance your work and non-work hours.
Without clear time management, everything can suffer, both your productivity on the job and your personal life.
Protect your work time, but always to ensure that work doesn’t keep you for meeting your personal needs.
It can be easy to allow work to intrude on sleep, relaxation, and family, or personal time. Set limits and adhere to them.
If need be, work with your team leader to establish or temper priorities and expectations. Deadlines must be met of course, but so too must personal needs and obligations.
To help do so, establish your peak performance times. It’s unrealistic to think you can work at the same pace consistently.
Most people have periods of high and low activity during the day. Your peak performance time may depend on you and the typical variations in your energy level. Or it may depend on external factors such as family, and colleagues work hours or meetings.
It’s useful to map out interruptions you frequently experience, such as specific demands of home life or times when you regularly receive an influx of email.
This can help you establish the times when you’re most able to focus and work productively, minimizing distractions.
Further, it’s important to plan regular breaks.
People working from home tend to overlook or ignore the importance of breaks, but that’s an unhealthy and ultimately counterproductive approach. Taking short intervals to step away for a few moments during the workday helps you recharge.
Studies suggest it helps govern the release of dopamine, which plays a role in energy and motivation. As a general rule, it’s recommended to take ten to 20-minute breaks every two hours or so. Don’t wait until you feel stressed or fatigued. Instead, plan your tears and take them on schedule.
Take a short walk, read a book. Watch a video or read a news article online, something to break the tension and briefly shift your focus away from what you have been working on.
That being said, you must also learn to be adaptable when work schedules change or the project requires it. Conference calls that require the attendance of teammates from Mumbai and Memphis are going to necessitate flexibility on the part of both.
It’s a given for most virtual teams. You should expect your schedule to be interrupted by unexpected events and demands on your time, from the sudden need for a status call to new work assignments with tight deadlines to changing priorities.
If possible, add buffer time into your schedule to allow for unplanned activities. Buffer time allows for a little extra time between tasks.
Time management research suggests that those who rush from one task to the next often feel their work suffers from not taking the time to transition from one to the next mentally.
This buffering also allows you to accommodate emergencies and unexpected work-related disruptions. It builds time into your day for making adjustments as needed. Not only to keep pace with your workflow, but also while handling issues that naturally arise over a business day.
And ultimately, the point is to manage your time in such a way as to have a productive business day while avoiding fatigue and burn out. Working remotely as part of a virtual team is challenging.
It’s up to you as a remote employee to rise to the challenges and time management manage your time to make your work situation productive and fulfilling for your company and yourself.