When I worked for myself at home as a Blogger and Social Media Manager, my procrastination levels were often pretty high. I’d start a blog post, get distracted by the postman at the door, quickly feed the cats who’d been buzzing around my feet, unload the dishwasher, and then 15 mins later I’d be in the downward-dog yoga pose in front of YouTube.
Now that I’m part-time, in the workplace (as a Head of HR), I have zero time to mess and faff around. I get in, say hi to my team, switch my laptop on and within a few minutes I’m banging out emails and making decisions.
It’s because I know my time is limited and precious. I simply don’t have the time to stand around chatting for half an hour about TV from the night before, or deliberating for ages over a document or decision. I take in information, get to the point, move on.
Which doesn’t come easy for someone, like myself, who likes to ensure their work is perfect before they submit it – aka checking and re-checking and ensuring high standards has always been a big part of my make-up. But it’s actually been liberating working in this way lately because I am far more productive and my output is high. I also get to the point, in the way I communicate with others, a lot faster.
It’s trickling into my personal life too. I spend less time faffing about with housework and less time bouncing from one task to another
I guess at work I am still missing out on some of the crucial bonding time you get when you are full-time in an office (which is where those relationships and key friendships are formed). However, a lot of my job as a HR person is meeting with people and chatting to staff on a daily basis, and so I don’t feel this is compromised too much. And I make sure I attend the social work events where I can, as well as having short breaks inbetween work and meetings in order to catch up and talk with people.
Being part-time in the workplace is a brand new experience for me, which has taken some time to adapt to…but being able to work flexibly in the workplace (in a senior role) is definitely encouraging me to work smarter and have high output. Which I hope is something that more workplaces and leaders will realise is a true benefit of a more flexible workforce of the future.
My top tips for working smarter when you work flexibly:
- Reply / action emails as soon as you read them, rather than saving them for later.
- Plan 121 meetings in your diary with key people / your team each week so that you all know exactly when you have scheduled time to catch up.
- If you feel yourself procrastinating over something too much move on to another piece of work. Come back to it later.
- Use people around you to help you make key decisions – sharing knowledge helps you to reach solutions faster rather than struggling or deliberating on your own.
- Use your calendar to build in ‘work time’, because if you are in back-to-back meetings all day you will feel overwhelmed when you have to leave the office. Push back, as well as empower others around you.