As the work-from-home movement proliferates around the world, more and more people are struggling with how to be more productive in this new lifestyle.
Whether it’s your phone, the family, or just an overall lack of motivation, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed with the constant work interruptions – but it’s not impossible to overcome.
In fact, with a little self-motivation and diligence, you can be even more productive at home than in the office. I can personally attest to that.
So if you’re someone who is constantly distracted and unproductive at home, keep on reading for my top 12 tips on how to be more productive while working remotely. You won’t regret it!
1. Have a Designated Work Zone.
If you’re constantly moving from your bed to the kitchen table to the couch to your desk throughout the workday, STOP. This is counterproductive for so many reasons.
Choose one spot in your house and dedicate it solely to work. Resist the urge to get in bed with your laptop because not only will you end up taking an unplanned nap, but you’ll begin to associate your bed with work. And who wants that when you’re trying to go to bed at night?
When you sit down at your designated work zone, your brain knows it’s time to grind. Hence, you’ll be much more productive when working from home.
2. Wake Up Earlier.
I know you’re all going to hate me for including this tip, but I had to. It’s that powerful.
Even if it’s just waking up a half an hour earlier than normal, this habitual change will give you a little extra time to review your to-do list, prepare for upcoming projects or meetings, and most importantly, supercharge your mindset for the day.
Before you begin chipping away at your to-do list, take a few extra minutes to reflect on why you do what you do, who you are going to impact with your work, and what you are going to focus on throughout the day.
This small change will help you tremendously to be more productive at home.
3. Schedule Phone Time.
Ah. The cellphone. The number one distraction when working from home – or from anywhere for that matter. It’s not even a question.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t go on your phone during the workday. That’s just not realistic, especially for people like me where social media is part of your job.
Instead, you need to treat phone time like a project on your to-do list. Similar to checking your email at an allotted time, you get to check your phone and social media apps at designated time slots throughout the day.
Maybe it’s 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes during your lunch break, and 30 minutes after you post on Instagram. Do whatever works for you and your job, but the key is to only check your phone at those times. Whenever you aren’t using it, put it on airplane mode and set it somewhere away from your workspace.
4. Don’t Answer The Phone.
This is a strategy that my dad swears by when it comes to being more productive at home. Unless it’s a scheduled work call, he usually lets calls go to voicemail so he can listen to the voicemail, understand what the person needs, and gather the necessary information before calling them back with an answer.
This way, he’s not wasting time listening to them explain the situation, hanging up the phone, doing the research, and then calling them back. Instead, he’s being proactive with the information given on the voicemail and calling back with a concrete solution. Pretty genius, eh?
5. Create A Rewards System.
When I used to study for finals at school, I’d force myself to study hardcore for an hour or two and then reward myself with an episode of my favorite show. Anyone else?
The same strategy can apply for work. Make your day slightly more enjoyable by rewarding yourself for focusing on one task for a certain amount of time. This leads me to my next tip…
6. Set A Timer.
Accomplishing a task does not require endless amounts of time; it requires intense focus. Steven Kotler is a leading expert in human performance and Flow. In his book, The Rise of Superman, he says,
“What matters more than the length of time you put into a thing is actually the intensity of focus.”
If you enter a flow state for one hour, you can accomplish 500% more than when you’re interrupted or multitasking. That’s insane!
The key is to identify when you work best and block out times of pure uninterrupted work during those time slots.
Set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour and focus on one singular task. Do not look at your phone. Do not talk to anyone. Focus all of your energy on that one task until the timer is up. You’ll be shocked at what you’re able to accomplish!
7. Batch Your Work.
This strategy is an absolute game-changer and goes hand in hand with entering a flow state (covered above.)
Essentially, batch working is “dividing your workflow into different days/hours of ONE TOPIC instead of jumping around from task to task.”
For example, instead of picking my blog post topics the week before, I take a few hours every few months to plan out a blog content calendar that will last me for weeks. This saves me time and energy in the long run, and I apply this workflow strategy wherever I can.
Read this article by Jenna Kutcher for more details on batch work.
8. Have 3 Priorities For Each Day.
I’m as guilty as anyone for having a mile-long to-do list, but the truth is that this is counterproductive. There’s no way you can batch your work and enter a flow state when you’re constantly bouncing around from task to task.
Instead, narrow down your list to three important priorities for each day. If you accomplish these before the end of the day, great. Now move on to something else. But try and focus on finishing a small number of urgent, time-sensitive projects.
9. Update Your To-Do List Every Night.
What did you accomplish today? Did you get everything done or do you need to readjust tomorrow’s schedule?
Doing this after work will allow you to wake up the next day and get straight to work rather than racking your brain for what you have to do that day. I do this religiously and it helps me be more productive in SO many ways!
10. Plan For The Month Ahead
Isn’t it the worst feeling ever when you realize you forgot about a HUGE deadline in three days? The key to getting more done every day is to avoid these last-minute cram sessions. And the way to do this is by reviewing and updating your calendar the month before.
Whether you use Google Calendars or an old-fashioned printed calendar, schedule out any important meetings, events, and deadlines that are coming up that month. Every week, look at the days ahead, make sure you know exactly what’s coming, and adjust your daily priorities accordingly.
11. Check Your Email At Specific Times.
I’m sure most of you would agree that checking your inbox is an enormous time sucker. We’ve all accidentally wasted 30 minutes responding to emails when we were supposed to be doing something else. Well, ladies and gentleman, here’s how we put a stop to this time-wasting habit:
Rather than checking your email throughout the day, set aside a specific time block each day to send and respond to emails. It’s as simple as that. Only check it once, and then close the tab for the rest of the day. If someone really needs you, they’ll call.
12. Give Yourself Breaks.
There is a growing body of research suggesting that our brains work best in 90-minute cycles followed by a 20-minute lull in productivity in motivation. I don’t even need research telling me that’s true because MAN do I feel that.
Rather than trying to fight this natural rhythm, give yourself a quick “brain break”, as I like to call them, every couple of hours. During this 20-minute window, do something that grounds you and calms your mind. Go on a walk outside. Do a quick meditation. Listen to a podcast. Call your mom.
Listen to your body and allow yourself a few breaks throughout the day. This will help you to be more productive in the long run.
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