Image: Steinar La Engeland / Unsplash.com
It’s 4:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon. You still have two thirds of your to-do list to do, but your productivity and concentration is gone. You even took a walk, a shower, had a snack, but it’s not coming back.
If you work from home a lot, like I do, this might be a regular occurrence. You might actually miss being on a overheated subway every morning to go to your desk job, because at least at the office, you were getting stuff done.
I used to be like that, until I made some small changes to be more productive working from home. Now I work less hours a day, but I get more done. Here’s a rundown.
- Act like you’re going to work. This is a big one for me. I get up at a decent time and often exercise. I want to be at my desk at 9:00am tops, sometimes earlier. I get dressed, put make-up on and have a light breakfast at the kitchen table before sitting down at my desk to work. Some people can work in bed with pj’s on, but it’s not for me.
- Take breaks. Set a timer. According to this research the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, and then take a 17 minute break. Personally, I have a Spotify playlist that’s exactly 50 minutes long. I work while listening to it from beginning to end and then take a 15 minute break.
- Have a separate work area. It’s important for me to separate my work time from my personal time, and I try to do the same with the actual physical space I use to work at. I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated room for work, so I use the desk in my bedroom specifically for work, and then when I’m done, I do ‘fun’ stuff, like watching YouTube video’s or scrolling through social media from my bed or couch. It helps to get yourself in the ‘work’ mindset when you’re sitting in a dedicated workspace.
- Write down your deadlines and appointments, and plan your to-do list around them. I keep all my deadlines in Wunderlist and set reminders for myself. Every night after I’ve finished work for the day, I sit down and look at all the appointments and deadlines that are coming up. Do I really need to finish something tomorrow? Then it’s at the top of the to-do list. For me, this is the best way to set priorities.
- Tell people about your schedule, then stick to it. We all have time in the day where we are most productive. For me it’s the late morning and early afternoon. I usually get most of my work done within those hours, but it also happens to be a time that people like to randomly call or text me. Because it was interfering with my work, I asked them to call me early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and it works! Most of my phone calls are not scheduled in the later in the day – when my productivity level is lower anyways.
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