Less than halfway into 2019, African developers have been hit with a wave of good news: Andela completed a $100m Series D round to hire 1000 more software developers this year; Lambda School expanded into Africa in partnership with Paystack, and Microsoft launched its African Development Center in Lagos. With these, there has been an increase in the number of remote workers on the continent and a surge in the demand for African talent.

This can be seen through an improvement in the number of applications to Hotels.ng HNG internship program and Andela’s Fellowship. Developers account for the majority of individuals not working in the traditional office environment. Some work from their homes; others from coffee shops; and a few from co-working spaces. A full-time job is usually 40 hours-a-week or 8 hours-a-day. However, for remote staff in many firms, they have the freedom to choose how they want to utilize that 8 hours to complete their task. For people working remotely, time management seems to be a problem and can lead to a backlog of undone tasks. Here are 6 techniques remote workers can utilize to manage their time to ensure productivity:

1. Create a routine

People are more productive at different hours of the day. Some work best before noon, others late at night, and some in the middle of the day. Whilst working away from the office, you are not forced to partake in the 9-5 life, but for productivity sakes, it helps when you work within times where you are at your best. If you have to work for 8 hours and you perform better at the beginning of the day, you can go 5-6 hours at a stretch working before the start of the day and complete the remaining 2-3 hours later in the day. A routine is essential to stay organized. When you decide to “go with the flow” when working, you may lose motivation along the way and decide not to do any tasks that day. Flexible hours can be a blessing but if not managed properly, it could be a curse. As Clutter Keeper puts it: When you don’t follow a daily routine, it can be easy to get stuck trying to decide what you need to do.

2. Have a devoted workspace free from clutter

The allure of working from home has the downside of making people believe it is right to work “anywhere”. The bedroom or the bed, whilst comfy, is not the best place to assign as a workspace, and neither is a desk inundated with papers and scrap materials (clutter). A proper workspace would be one wherein you are free from interruptions, yet comfortable enough to function at peak performance. Separate your work area from anything that may serve as a distraction - loud chatter of neighbors or kids, the smell of food, the bed or TV, etc. There should be a clear distinction between you are working and when you are not.

3. Plan your day

As part of a distributed team, you have flexible hours, especially if members of your team are working at different hours of the day. Besides creating a routine and having a devoted workspace to help you manage your time wisely and stay organized, it is necessary that you plan your day. Simple to-do lists or apps with automated to-do lists like Wunderlist and Todoist can assist you in planning how you want to tackle each day at a time. The importance of this is seen especially when you are working on a project with a designated deadline. The Management Study Guide posits that; Planning plays a pivotal role in effective time management. An individual needs to plan his day well in advance to make the best possible use of time. There is no point in working just for the sake of doing work. Planning gives an individual a sense of direction in the organization and motivates him to complete assignments on time.

Here, you have to ensure that every day you work counts and makes an impact in completing the project at hand. To plan your day, you can do the following:

a. Write down what you intend to achieve that day.
b. Break it into sizeable “chunks”. You want to measure your progress on the task you are working on.
c. Prioritize.
d. Do work.

4. Snooze time-wasters

At every time of the day, we are hit with a flurry of information- be it Facebook reminders of your second cousin’s birthday, newsletters on Gmail from a site you subscribed to years ago, or Whatsapp messages from your partner. To manage your time, it is important to mute every possible avenue for distractions. Finish your set daily task at the assigned hour you have chosen before deciding to click on that pop up on the Premier League’s transfer market. Remember, the online world is not the only challenge you would have to contend with, so ensure that you prevent “drop-ins” during your working hours as much as possible. With full or near-complete focus, you would be able to utilize your time to achieve what you had planned to do at the start of the day.

5. Build in breaks

Even if you are an early bird, you will have to eat breakfast. Sometimes, you have to do some cleaning or watch your favorite TV show or even sleep. However you decide how your day is meant to go, it is necessary to create a time for breaks. Avoid the urge to “wing it”. Distractions and interruptions may arise during the course of the day, but it is important that you have planned hours to take care of that and keep yourself refreshed or motivated. Many remote workers complain of a lack of motivation that arises from working alone and that could eat into your productive hours. However, with built-in breaks, you stay refreshed to accomplish whatever task you decide to work on that day.

6. Track your time
In everything you do, it is important to measure success. For time management, tracking how you spend your time can assist you in not just determining periods of peak performance, but allow you to see where and what points you get distracted. RescueTime and Toggl are two apps that can assist you as you note down what exactly you do when you work.

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