This week we spoke with Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time management coach and author of three books, including “The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment”. We chatted with her about striking a balance between work and life while in social isolation.
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Why is time management so important right now?
Many of the natural structures that kept your time headed in a certain direction are gone: commutes, office meetings, school schedules, activities. Because of this loss of external structure, it’s essential to have a much stronger internal sense of time and time management.
How can someone take time for themselves throughout the workday?
I recommend taking breaks, including taking some time for lunch. Some people do these breaks at certain times, such as working in 25-minute [periods] and then taking five minutes off. Others take these breaks when needed. For example, I tend to take a bit of a break to get some water and move around for a bit after wrapping up a project and before moving on to the next one. And my lunch and snack breaks are simply determined by the time I am hungry.
What’s your No. 1 WFH tip?
Decide when you will be “on” and “off” work, so you can be focused when you’re working and have times where you can relax without guilt.
Why is it important to strike a good work-life balance while in isolation?
Work-life balance is different for everyone in terms of what it looks like specifically. But in general, I think it’s good to have a good work-life balance to avoid burning out, to allow your mind, body and spirit to recharge, to invest in relationships and activities that are important to you and to have the motivation to focus and be productive when you are working.
How do you strike that balance?
In the current situation, I recommend trying to have some physical separation from your work. For example, if you usually do your work in your home office or at a desk, move to some place else after work to relax. Doing some physical activity after finishing work, like going on a walk or run, can also help with the mental separation. Finally, I support closing out your work email and if you have a separate work phone, not checking it after hours unless it is absolutely necessary. This keeps you focused on the present.
What’s the biggest mistake people make trying to manage their time?
The biggest mistake that people make is not being intentional. Instead of deciding how they will invest their time, they react to anything that comes their way, don’t get the most important things done, and end up working longer than necessary.
Are there other benefits to time management?
For everyone, managing their time better can help them be more productive because it allows you to focus on your top priorities, be proactive instead of reactive and get more of what’s most important done. That can make you more money through raises, promotions, bonuses, or if you’re an entrepreneur, through more contracts.