Usually when someone comes to me with a time management problem it is of the too-many-tasks-not-enough-hours variety. For years I’ve cautioned people about over scheduling or failing to prioritize, as I helped them navigate through days that just seemed too short for all of their demands. Now, thanks to Covid-19, many of us have more time on our hands than ever before, or our time is organized in a new and twisted way.
What can you do when your job evaporates and those 8-12 hours a day are empty?
How can you get your work done from home with a spouse or children under foot?
Is there a way to keep from filling up your long, lock-down days with mindless eating and binge watching?
Do you NEED to be doing something productive all the time?
It’s important to acknowledge the emotional backdrop of your time management issues. This is true even when things are going well. How we feel about a person or a task can greatly influence our speed and productivity. If you feel tired, worried, anxious, depressed, frazzled, or any of the other perfectly human responses to this situation, this is going to affect how you use time AND how time feels.
If you’re sharing living and working space with others (roommates, romantic partner, children, extended family) there is no substitute for the good old-fashioned house meeting. Talk about what everyone needs in terms of privacy, work space, support, and time dedicated for specific tasks.
If you’re living alone, especially if you are suddenly unemployed, schedule in some connection time every day or so. Emails, phone calls, video conferences – connect with someone. Do not sit around for multiple hours a day brooding. This can be toxic.
If you feel you are not getting “enough” done, then double-check your expectations. True, some people will manage to write a novel during this time, or launch a pandemic resistant business, or start a YouTube channel featuring their original music, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure if you don’t.
We all have one main task right now: protect your physical and mental health. Everything else is bonus points. Yes, it’s great if now is the time you choose to read about, talk about, and improve your time management skills, but do so with an eye to self-care and pragmatism.