This article was written and originally posted by The Financial Diet in partnership with M&T Bank.

If you’re wondering how to stay busy, whether it’s for your own good or because your job needs you to get the job done, we’ve compiled some tips for managing your workflow in a constant stream of distractions.

By The Financial Diet

April 6, 2020

We’re partnering with The Financial Diet to bring you a series of smart money tips that can actually apply to your life and finances. We know that not every piece of money advice is going to apply to everyone. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to finances, because everyone’s situation is different. We take the time to understand what’s important to our individual customers so we can help with their specific needs and goals.

With the whole world turned upside down, it’s hard not to be distracted. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, you still have to get things done. In fact, getting things done might feel oddly satisfying to you right now. In times of uncertainty, productivity gives us a semblance of stability and control.

If you’re wondering how to stay busy, whether it’s for your own good or because your job needs you to get the job done, we’ve compiled some tips for managing your workflow in a constant stream of distractions.

Schedule time for news updates.

With news unfolding by the minute, it can be hard to think about anything else but the pandemic. Your phone is buzzing incessantly, and it’s easier than it should be to check Twitter nonstop. It’s important to stay up-to-date on everything that’s going on right now, but it can also get quite overwhelming. 

Instead of constantly consuming media, you can turn it into a task by designating time for it in your schedule. Set aside twenty minutes every few hours to get all your news updates and check to see what’s going on in your social media circles. Silence your phone notifications, turn off the television, and remember that it’s okay to take a break from the endless onslaught of news.

Set up an actual space for work.

If working from your bed or in front of the TV feels comforting at the moment, by all means, do what you need to do. But if you find that it’s not getting the job done, maybe it’s time to establish a dedicated space for your work.

Having a separate space for work might remind you of being back at the office and allow you to get through your tasks more quickly and efficiently than you would on the couch or in front of the television. Find a quiet place in your home with plenty of room for spreading out. If you have to join virtual meetings, you want to find a spot that’s well-lit, too.

Get your finances in order

Let’s face it  — this isn’t just a health crisis, it’s also a financial one. And worrying about money can be extremely distracting. In times like this, it helps to focus on the things you can control, then take action on those things. That means creating an emergency budget, figuring out where to cut back, and prioritizing your bills.

Pro Tip: During these unprecedented times, M&T is here to help with their complementary money management tool, M&T Money Smart*, that you can leverage for short and long term planning. Create a budget and quickly see where every dollar is going, so you’re not caught off guard by an upcoming payment and evaluate what money you can put aside over the next 2 – 4 weeks to create some short term savings for yourself. 

Put your phone on Do Not Disturb.

The “ding” of a new text message is impossible not to check, and once you do, you may spend more time than you realize replying to all of your messages. If the group texts keep coming through, making it hard to focus on anything else, utilize your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature while you power through your task list. You can even schedule Do Not Disturb time automatically in your phone’s settings.

If you want to make sure texts from specific friends or family members come through, however, your phone should have a setting under contacts that makes them an exception. This way, if your mom happens to text or call while your phone is on Do Not Disturb, you can opt to still get notified.

Set a timer.

If all else fails, try the Pomodoro technique. Named after the tomato-shaped timer, the Pomodoro technique requires you to work in focused, 25-minute increments followed by short, 5-minute breaks. This is called a “Pomodoro,” and after three Pomodoros, you take a longer, 30-minute break.

The idea is, instead of trying to do all your work at once, which can feel overwhelming and thus encourage you to procrastinate further, you just need to make it through 25 minutes of focused productivity. This method also encourages you to take breaks, which are important to not just your productivity, but also to your mental health.

Take care of yourself. 

Now is not the time for added stress, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get stuff done, either. 

Pro Tip: Of course, part of taking care of yourself is taking care of your finances, so if you’re worried about your financial situation don’t hesitate to call us.

If you find yourself distracted, stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, it’s okay to sit with those feelings. If there was ever a time to practice a little self-compassion, this is it.

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