When I was asked to write this blog I felt flattered, but not entirely qualified! Initially whilst working from home, I felt that ways I’ve stayed organised and productive were no longer possible or relevant. However I’ve now come to see them as more important without external motivation or structure.
1. Splitting up tasks
Some tasks seem insurmountable, so I find that splitting them down into individual components makes them seem more achievable. It’s much more satisfying to tick off 4 smaller items than to have the bigger task stubbornly staying on your to-do list.
Working from home, I need more than before to feel productive, plus lockdown feels pretty insurmountable itself sometimes! Chipping away at smaller tasks has helped to stop them looming, and I definitely get more done this way.
2. Set deadlines
I work best when there’s a deadline; and setting them for smaller tasks keeps me on track throughout a project. Working on a non-COVID19 trial has meant that all external deadlines have pretty much evaporated, so learning to rely on my own self-imposed deadlines has been key to an organised workflow.
3. Give tasks time
A task will lurk on my to-do list unless I dedicate time to it in my calendar. Again, particularly at the moment where time stretches out with little definition, carving out a schedule for tasks has provided a much needed structure as well as ensuring I’m more productive.
I can easily forget that there are other people involved/who want the project to work as much as you do. Regular communication with people coming from different perspectives highlights and solves potential issues. Again, this is particularly key at this time of isolation.
5. Learn as much as you can
Courses online and in person offer lots of advice. It’s worth investing the time to learn new skills so you can save time implementing them later on. Whilst I haven’t done any yet, I think this is a great time to prioritise this kind of learning.
6. Excellent stationery
It’s just so much better writing lists and reminders when they look nice! Plus, it stops me scribbling on scraps of paper and binning them before I realise they’re important. Thank you again for my office secret santa gift – I have very coordinated notes as a consequence, which I’m really enjoying.
To be honest, I only do all these things on good days. But I know that if I feel disorganised or a little overwhelmed that coming back to these points is always helpful. Maybe one benefit from an extended period of working from home is the opportunity these skills as we rely on our own motivation more, becoming more productive and organised in the process.