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Time management while working from home

The nation is pulling together to help contain and eliminate the novel coronavirus Covid-19. Millions across the nation are stepping up their handwashing technique and frequency, maintaining social distancing of 6 feet, and “sheltering in place.”  Nobl made the decision to begin virtual work on March 5th and all of our employees have moved to their homes. For some, this is the first time that they have not worked within the structure of the office environment for more than a day or two. Ray Page and Katie Haifley, company co-founders, want to assure that staff well-being and company productivity don’t suffer from this social isolation. They are keeping us connected in a variety of ways that might be useful to other technology groups working totally remote for the first time.  

  • Daily Stand-Up – every morning is it “all hands on deck” with a video conference call where everyone shares their planned work for the day and how they need support from others.  All cameras are expected to be in operation and all most be “presentable” for the work environment.  

  • Using Slack™ – We have consistently used this intra-office messaging service but using different channels to replace the usual face-to-face project clarifications and questions has emphasized how often office teams interact and support each other.  Every employee has a channel for 1:1 interactions, plus the general and random channels. General is for office related information and random has become the social network to help us smile despite everything that is happening.  

  • Weekly or Biweekly 1:1 Employee Rounds – Nobl team leaders have used the Employee rounding platform to complete monthly rounds for years, but with the virtual workspace employee rounds are occurring at least once each week and often twice.  

  • Weekly Team-Building Exercise – On Friday we had our first teambuilding exercise.  Each of us was asked to share two things – how we feel encouraged and how we need support.  

As the CNO, I have been asked to provide a brief update each morning on the progress of Covid-19 and a suggestion to promote employee well-being in one of four areas – physical health, mental health, spiritual health, and productivity.  As a national consultant in nursing since 2005, I have 15 years of experience working from home. I made many mistakes in the beginning and found myself close to real burn-out. Balancing productivity with personal rest can be difficult.  For highly self-motivated individuals, the risk is working around the clock. For those who need external deadlines and the structure of a work environment, productivity can suffer.  

The following are suggestions to manage home-work balance when working from home that I shared with our team.  


Tips for Working from Home

  • Workspace

    • Have a dedicated workspace that's enjoyable to be in. Creating a space that looks like a real "office" will help to make it feel like you are at work and will encourage you to be more productive. 

    • Use an ergonomic office chair. If your chair is uncomfortable, you'll likely find plenty of excuses to get up and go somewhere else. 

    • Have a door that you can close. Be sure to have a place that you can go where you are certain you won't be disturbed, and where you can close the door on potential distractions.

  • Organization

    • Make sure that your desk is big enough. How big it needs to be will depend on the type of work that you do.  

    • Make sure that you have everything you need in place. Keep the essential tools that you will need within easy reach. 

    • Keep your desk tidy. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day tidying up your desk. 

    • Organize your tasks. It's easy to become disorganized if you're working on several different projects at once.  Organized folders (hard-copy or electronic) and a calendar or master list of deadlines will help you to prioritize each day or week.  

  • Time Management

    • Establish a routine. 

    • Take breaks regularly, quit work at the same time you would if you were in the office. 

    • Create a "high priority" To-Do List. Organize and prioritize tasks that must get done by the end of the day in a To-Do List.  At Nobl we call these “drop dead tasks” or DDTs that must be finished by the end of the day.  

    • Create a To-Do List of "in between" tasks. This should include relatively minor tasks that will take 10 minutes or less to complete, and which fit into your daily work schedule when you have the time available. 

    • Keep a timesheet. Keep tabs on how much time you spend on each task by setting up a timesheet. 


Creating Better Work-Life Balance While Working from Home

  • Plan Your Activities Properly

    • Your planning should start off with a goal setting process. You must develop long and short-term goals that are interconnected. Monthly, weekly, daily.  

  • Protect Your Work Time

    • Assess your time spending habits. If you want to perform well, you must treat your time with respect. Time is the only resource that never comes back, and it’s your most valuable asset. If you manage to stay focused and be productive in your work time, work-life balance will improve because you’ll have time for other things.

  • Take Close Care of Your Health

    • No matter what type of job you have, working from home can be very tricky. The stress you accumulate is going to influence your mental health in the long-term. It is important to have a good nutrition plan, exercise regularly, and pay attention to your condition.

  • Take Intentional Time Off

    • You should never overwhelm yourself with your work. Working less—but with more passion and focus—will turn out to be more productive for you rather than working more hours each day.

  • Always Start Your Day Strong

    • The first hours of each morning are critical and influence your entire day. A morning routine helps create small but efficient habits. Don’t let anyone interrupt you. Leave your e-mails for later or set time to check email and messaging three times per day. 

  • Identify your most productive time of day and plan your work around those hours.  Maximize the connection between your skills/strengths and type of work you are doing.   

  • Get dressed

    • Part of your normal routine includes changing out of your pajamas or yoga pants and into work-appropriate attire. 

  • Block out your time to focus on specific tasks

    • Give your full attention to a specific task and block out distractions until you have met the daily goal for that work.  

    • Turn off email and social media alerts and set a specific time to check emails between blocks of productive time. 

The Covid-19 virus has impacted every corner of the world.  The sacrifices of millions of Americans to protect each other and to preserve the capability of the healthcare system to handle the needs of those who are made critically fill from the virus is inspiring.  Since its origin, Nobl has sought to “empower healthcare” and many of our clients are reaching out for ways to use our products to audit additional safety and infection control measures, support their teams through customized employee rounding questions specific to the virus, and even adding “vertical beds” in Emergency Departments to round on those awaiting care or admission.  We can’t help directly with “boots on the ground” but we can help all those who are at the frontline of this. Please reach out with your needs and we will make it a priority to make changes happen in your platforms.


Nurse Leader Rounding E-book