Pandemic life is getting a bit old, a bit too familiar. At first, all the free time, or a new working-from-home setup was exciting. Now, time management is becoming an issue. The rhythms of our old lives included car rides, train rides, break room conversations, lunch dates, play dates and kids’ schooling. There are new rhythms and tapping into them is the difference between going coronavirus crazy, and being the productive, time management master you’ve always dreamed of.
If you’re not ready to tackle a schedule we shared a list a few weeks ago with great entertainment ideas. For the socially active person, check out our COVID-19 pandemic volunteer and support opportunities post. Not everyone is staying at home, or working from home – there are many important, amazing people that are going to work every day. Thank you doctors, nurses, hospital janitors, city utility workers and the many more jobs we don’t even realize are so essential to daily life.
Ready, set, get your notebooks out and prepare for your new pandemic life.
TIP 1: schedule
Making a schedule is easy, sticking to it is a challenge. Most of our lives (when we’re not sheltering in place) have pre-made schedules:Life during the pandemic has removed many of the natural scheduling parameters of life. Whether you are mostly unemployed and staying at home, or going to work per usual, we’re all experiencing blocks of time that we can’t fill with normal activities.
A self-made schedule is a foundational time management skill. This tip does wonders for all the mental and emotional obstacles that present themselves when you want to accomplish something productive, but don’t feel like doing it.
THIS girl knows how to make a schedule and be productive! Her schedule relies on the traditional hour-by-hour schedule. Reading through her list of tasks I’m jealous. I know that I would feel SO good about myself, and my day if I managed my time that well. But, the best part is, people responded with their own, hilarious schedules to keep you laughing (how much Netflix is too much Netflix?)
Remember, not all schedules look the same. A bullet point list of goals for the day on a sticky note may be enough for you. My current strategy is to accomplish 3 things every day. That’s it. I’m hoping to build my time management skills and confidence by starting small.
TIP 2: or no schedule
Hannah Khoddam, A University of Southern California PhD candidate (in clinical psychology), has worked from home for 6 years. She offers some helpful, and healthy tips for creating a customized schedule for your coronavirus stay-at-home days.
Her time management tip that spoke to me the most was: don’t be hard on yourself. That only creates more anxiety, which is the perfect way to ruin any motivation you had for productivity. Start by understanding your relationship to a schedule and work with that, not the “ideal” version of a schedule.
Think about times that you have been really productive and managed your time in a way that made you feel proud. Perhaps you rely on spurts of inspiration or random motivation; maybe you need a time-stamped list of tasks; or perhaps a friend calling you throughout the day to hold you accountable works well. Find YOUR schedule, not “the schedule”.
TIP 3: kids?!
Got kids at home too? This blog suggests a schedule specifically for families with children. BONUS: the blog post right after is “5 Natural Ways to Beat Anxiety” – seems appropriate right now.
As a parent you have to manage not only your own time (if you get any) but your kids’ time as well. This can be a daunting task especially with schools closed and summer just ahead. Time management as a parent includes many layers, nuances and temper tantrums, but you can do it! Balance productive time with fun time. Check out our previous blog post for some kid-friendly fun ideas.
TIP 4: goals
The one thing that all professionals, amateurs, random girls on twitter are saying is: SCHEDULE. Secondarily, GOALS. I think the distinction is important. A schedule is a list of things to do, and is dependent on time. Goals, on the other hand, aren’t married to a timestamp or a 24-hour day. Goals are not a time management skill, necessarily, but they do provide a lot of context, and motivation for our time.
My goals for each day are to write, play music and do yoga. That’s it. Some days I read and watch t.v. for hours and cram my goals into the last bit of the day. On other days, I accomplish my goals throughout the day. On rare days I manage my time with a schedule and drop my three goals into time slots.
Goals keep us grounded. I know that every day I want to accomplish at least three things, and since they are not dependent on a schedule, but my desire, I can go to sleep feeling proudly productive [whether or not the rest of my schedule panned out].
TIP 5: we are all connected
Perhaps the best advice I’ve found is from Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who lived in the International Space Station for nearly a year. He offers a well-rounded list of time management skills that cover our many needs as humans. He also suggests a consistent bedtime, and he’s got NASA science to back him up. Scientists have found that a person’s mood, interpersonal skills, and productivity are positive affected when they experience regular, adequate sleep.
Kelly’s tips stole my heart with his final time management tip: we are all connected. It’s not a tip really, more of an adage. We ARE connected, even when we are respectively in our homes, accomplishing our tasks, following a solitary schedule. There are things we can do for each other, even from a distance. Consider helping others as a way to use your time valuably.
keep social distancing!