Many employees seek part-time or flexible schedules based on a desire to balance their professional responsibilities and their personal lives. Whether your personal life involves family commitments, continuing your education, following a passion or a combination of all of the above, it can be difficult to juggle those competing priorities. Even if you’re able to take advantage of a flexible work schedule, it can be difficult to stay focused and productive.
The following five tips can help flexible employees, and their managers, make the most of their time on the job.
Prioritize projects with deadlines
Juggling multiple work assignments can sometimes be overwhelming. We all have the same number of hours in the day and trying to accomplish too much can lead to overload and delayed progress. Or you might be asked to switch focus in the middle of a complex project. Prioritizing assignments can be difficult.
I find the best approach is to make a to-do list and review it with your manager on a regular basis. Managers can help provide direction for your focus and help prioritize the work on your different projects. They can also discuss deadlines for each project, keeping you motivated and giving you a better idea of how long you should be working on each project to complete them on time.
Working for a company that provides flexible work arrangements makes it possible for you to get work done when it works best for you, but communication is essential. Keep your calendar up to date and share it with coworkers so they know when they can get in touch with you or schedule a conference call. Keep your manager up-to-date as your schedule changes so you can decide if/when you need to increase or decrease hours, depending on your workload. If you are behind on email, take a few spare minutes to check them. This helps you focus on projects while you’re in work mode rather than spending your time on “housekeeping” duties while in the office.
In our company, many associates work remotely, so occasional meetings – whether in-person or video conference – are a way for our company to keep in touch. These meetings are a great way to maintain connections between remote team members, but it can become difficult to stay on top of projects when attending meetings daily. To make the most of your time, try to attend only those meetings where you can make valuable contributions and receive important information to do your job.
Before a meeting, ask the organizer if you need to attend the entire time or whether the meeting minutes provide you with the information needed. You may be able to ask for a five to 10-minute update from the leader. When you do need to attend a meeting, try to schedule it at the beginning or end of your day. Having meetings dispersed throughout your workday can be distracting and detract from your productivity.
Laser Focus Time
Even if you are trying to condense your working hours into shorter periods of time, it is important to take short breaks while working on a project. Try an app like 30/30. This free app allows you to create tasks and allocate the time you need to complete them. You can set a timer to work for 30 minutes, focusing on one task with no distractions. When the time is up, you can give yourself a break to check Facebook, chat with coworkers, take a walk or any other activity that gets you reenergized before getting back to work. As a bonus, having those pockets of work time scheduled helps keep you focused, making you work faster trying to get more done before your break. Even if this app isn’t for you, try to take short breaks in between periods of focused work. This will eliminate burn-out and help prevent losing enthusiasm in your work.
By Deanna Perkins
Boomer Consulting, Inc.