Boundaries: Ways to Get More Time Back in Your Day

Posted on 02/27/2023 - 2:38 PM by Anne Mercer CIA, CFE, CFSA

With all our competing priorities, time management is essential in our daily lives. Many of us are working in a remote or hybrid setting which can come with many challenges, such as new and different distractions we’re not used to in an office. While in the professional world, I have found ways that work best for me to help manage my time during any given day.

My name is Anne Mercer and I am a public member on the Board of Commissioners at CCMC. Professionally, I am a Certified Internal Auditor and a Certified Fraud Examiner. I also work as the Senior Director of Professional Guidance for the Institute of Internal Auditors.

There are a few ways I implement time management in my daily routine to save myself time during working hours. First, I set established work hours. Most days I work from 8:00am to 5:00pm, but that isn’t always the case. Because I work for a global organization, sometimes I need to adjust the hours to accommodate our affiliates and members in different time zones. Before my day starts, I always plan when I can take breaks based on my meeting calendar, workload, and priorities. Following an established schedule will help you feel more structured and efficient, and it will help keep your attention focused.

With all the technology at our disposal, including cell phones and emails, interruptions are almost impossible to prevent and can have a negative impact on your workflow and efficiency. To manage interruptions during the day I start by muting all email notifications and Zoom Team Chats. I then set aside a specific time twice a day to check messages. I also find it is important to let family members know that although you are home, you are working. That means setting and sticking to boundaries! You may even want to post your schedule so your family understands what you are doing and when you would be available during breaks. This is critical to staying focused while working from home.

Working remotely has been a new challenge for many of us. To help myself stay focused while working from home, I take a break every 90 minutes or so. This helps to clear my mind and recharge my batteries so I can work more efficiently. I take a few minutes to listen to the Headspace App - fortunately, my employer has a group subscription for all our employees! I like to do either a short meditation or breathing exercise. Also, I set my watch to remind me to periodically get up, stretch, and walk around a little. Taking these short breaks really helps to restore my concentration and focus so I can continue to be productive.

Goal setting is also really important to helping us manage our time the best we can. To do so, I write down my to-do list right before I end the work day. This way at the start of each day I know exactly where I left off. Then I prioritize the list by both due date and effort needed to complete the task. I also find that prioritizing important tasks earlier in the day helps me save time. If I don’t have any meeting earlier in the day, I try to block out my calendar so I can focus on my most important tasks.

While working from home, it takes self-discipline to be able to work effectively and efficiently. Getting into a good rhythm will not happen overnight, as it takes some trial and error to determine what will work best for you. If you have a day that for whatever reason goes sideways - don’t get discouraged. Just reset and get back on track the next day!