Laura Vanderkam has built her career on time management. But nothing could have prepared the author, podcast host, and productivity expert for knowing how wildly different the average workday would look at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, her new book, The New Corner Office: How the Most Successful People Work from Home (July 21, Portfolio/Penguin Random House), has arrived just in time. Drawing on her own 18 years of experience working remotely, Vanderkam lays down specific, no-nonsense strategies that are like manna from heaven for all of us hunkered at home.
For many white collar workers, she says, stay-at-home directives offer an opportunity to abandon the traditional 9 to 5, and focus, simply, on what needs to be done.
Here are her top tips for doing more with less time — and squeezing a bigger paycheck out of the hours you put in.
It’s about the task, not the time
“We’re so accustomed to thinking of ‘productivity’ in terms of how many hours we’re putting into something,” Vanderkam says.
Try managing by task instead, she advises. In other words, if you have 10 things you need to get done, when they’re done, so are you, at least for the day.
Working at home can actually help here. “You can do things in fewer hours,” she says. “There’s a lot of very distracting things that happen in offices. Time getting to and from places. Uncomfortable things, whether it’s the temperature or noise.”
All those distractions get in the way of the real work, and costs the company—and, consequently, you—money.
You won’t always conquer your most important tasks in eight hours, so don’t fret when that happens. But creating an optimal environment geared toward what should get done rather than how many hours you’re putting in is a helpful reorientation.
Work the hours that work for you
Not all time is created equal, as anyone who’s barreling through a project on hour 12 knows. Vanderkam is a big believer in slotting the right tasks into the right hours, no matter what’s going on around you.
The small stuff, like answering administrative emails or dealing with low-level questions on a project, should never absorb your most generative hours. Know when you work most clearly and skillfully, and get the high-level idea stuff—like interaction with top clients or brainstorming for long into the future—completed then.
“It’s really about managing your energy,” she says. “Put the most important work at the time when you’re best able to do it.”
If you use all your best brain juice on minor endeavors, it’s going to be hard to accelerate to a place where you’re maximizing profit, for your company or yourself.
Work and play go hand-in-hand
It’s easy to imagine your work tasks walled off from the other—more fun—parts of your life, but that’s never quite the case, according to Vanderkam.
“They’re all related. Exercising and getting enough sleep means you’ll have more energy. You’ll be a better friend, relative, and worker,” she says. “If you’re happy at work and achieve things you want to, you’ll be in a better mood with loved ones, and vice versa.”
Source: Money.com / Featured image by freepik