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8 Tips For Staying Productive While Working From Home

by Adam Trouncer - 5 months ago

If you’ve joined the third of full-time home-based employees, you may have come up against the challenge of staying productive while working from home.

While we all like to think we can seamlessly transfer our productivity from the usual workplace to a home office, experience says that’s not always the case.

It’s no secret that working from home requires far more discipline. Sure, you can control the number of cookie jars at home, but the trade-off is that you’re responsible for your own routine, motivation, and workload.

We are essentially social beings who generally thrive on contact with others. Without a ‘boss’ watching over you or a supportive team helping you along, staying personally motivated is no easy feat. And that can affect productivity – if you allow it to.

To prevent this, many freelancers and remote workers have developed a clever series of techniques that provide structure to the working day, help to create good habits, and generally aid in getting the work done.

These are our personal favorites and each one can be applied almost immediately – whether you work from home or not.

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1
Create A “Don’t-Do” List

We all know the power of starting your day with a thorough to-do list. There’s something satisfying and motivating about crossing off those tasks and visualizing your workload getting smaller, right before your very eyes.

But have you ever heard of a “don’t-do” list?

A don’t-do list is a progressive record of everything that distracts you.

Maybe you’re addicted to checking your social media feed, or you regularly stop what you’re doing to answer emails as soon as they arrive in your inbox. Or perhaps it’s hitting the kitchen for another snack a little too frequently.

By writing down a list of these distractions and sticking it within eyesight of your workspace, you’re not only creating more awareness of your own temptations; you’re setting boundaries that will help you stay on track with constant reminders right in front of your eyes.

PRO-TIP: Keep your “don’t-do” list close to your phone!

Here’s what our list looks like:
•        Don’t book any meetings that are over two hours long
•        Don’t check emails when working on a specific task
•        Don’t eat lunch at the desk
•        Don’t have the television on when working from home
•        Don’t think you can do a laundry load while you’re working!

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2
Master The Art Of Task-Clustering

This tactic is well-known among remote workers, and for good reason. It stems from the idea of ‘clustering’ or grouping tasks together on certain days to help maintain your focus and improve your efficiency.

This might require working solely on one project for an entire day with no other interruptions, or brainstorming each morning while you have a clear mind.

Perhaps it’s setting aside an hour per day to respond to emails, or working on your accounts on a Friday: you’re in such a good mood that not even invoicing could bring you down!

Figure out what works for you and test it over a two-week period. Then tweak it as necessary.

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3
Establish Your ‘Productive Hours’

Writer, educational activist and entrepreneur, Timothy Ferriss, was working 14-hour days at his sports nutrition supplement company before taking a three-week sabbatical to Europe.

It was there he developed the foundations of his New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour
Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich.

At the root of this hugely popular self-help book is the concept of working smarter, not harder. It encourages practices like outsourcing small tasks to virtual assistants and swapping long-haul careers for short work bursts and frequent ‘mini-retirements’.

Tim asks, “If you could 10x your per-hour output, how would your life and business change?”

For most of us, the 9-5 grind is a fact of life, but what if we look at it from a different perspective?

What if we take notice of our most productive hours and start working within those instead? If you’re not a morning person, it doesn’t make sense to force yourself into a creative frame of mind first thing.

Instead, try experimenting with different start and finish times – you might discover you work exceptionally well at 7 am, or maybe even midnight! That’s absolutely fine as long as you have the flexibility to work at these times.

Working with and not against yourself will help your staying productive while working from home.

4
Create The Optimal Work Environment

For most people, working from home isn’t simply a case of firing up the laptop and working from the dinner table.

If you have trouble with self-discipline, try to separate the home life ‘triggers’ from your workspace.

The dinner table, where you enjoy meals with your family each evening, creates triggers for feel-good time with loved ones. It may hinder you from entering ‘work mode’ and ‘productive time’.

Try to create an environment that communicates ‘work’ to you. Buy a new desk and treat yourself to an extra-comfy office chair. Develop a comfortable space away from the home theater system and near plenty of natural light. Make it your space that the kids don’t go into.

When you enter that space each day, your brain will soon recognize the tell-tale signals of ‘work mode’ and get ready for work itself!

Oh… And, by the way, unless it’s a Sunday morning and you’re having a lie in, avoid the temptation to crank up your laptop in bed and start working. That sends all the wrong signals to your brain!

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5
Hide The Phone And The Tablet!

If you’re easily distracted in the office by your mobile phone messaging apps or by the 256th level of a game that’s running on your tablet, the temptation is only likely to get worse if you’re working from home.

There’s no peer pressure to make you feel guilty at home, after all!

These distractions will really harm your productivity. You cannot multitask – and by attempting to, you will likely end up performing all tasks inadequately. This will lower your level of engagement and self-esteem, which will definitely prevent your staying productive while working from home.

Be disciplined about this. Make rules. Tell yourself you will answer chat messages or play your game only at mid-morning break, lunch time and afternoon break.

At the same time, be sure to leave communication channels open to the people based in the office: We all need help and support at times – and cutting yourself off from colleagues can lead to feelings of isolation.

Maybe you can utilize remote workspace collaboration apps like Slack, Basecamp or Trello. These are great for communicating with colleagues about work.

6
Build Up To ‘Work Mode’

Some people use an early-morning commute to work to get their head together, plan out the working day, catch up on social media or the overnight sports news, and generally get mentally prepared for work.

They don’t miss being stuck in traffic when working from home. But they do miss the time allowed to catch up on stuff.

Taking away the commute needn’t take away these activities in the morning. Build them into your schedule. If you get up at 7am, use the first hour to get all these things out of your system and then enter ‘work mode’ at 8am.

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7
Fuel Your Day With The Correct Nutrition

When we’re faced with a particularly busy day, it’s easy (and enticing) to order takeout for lunch, then reach for unhealthy snacks when the afternoon slump comes knocking.

Unfortunately, these are the worst possible food choices you can make when it comes to productivity.

Why? Concentration, energy, and mood are all impacted by the food you put into your body – or more specifically, the quality of food.

Snacks like chocolate bars, bagels, packets of chips and doughnuts contain a variety of saturated and trans fats, refined flour and refined sugar, which are all responsible for rapid blood glucose spikes.

In other words, you might feel an instant burst of energy after eating them, but it will be short-lived. In fact, by giving into these temptations, you’ll have to deal with fatigue, poor concentration, more sugar cravings, and high stress levels for the rest of the day.

Instead, load up on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.

For example, we love to start our day with a vegetable omelet and green smoothie packed with Athletic Greens, followed by a hearty salad or soup for lunch, and raw nuts and seeds to snack on later in the day.

Many people turn to meal planning to remove the distraction of food throughout their work day. This method allows you to plan your meals ahead of time, condensing your nutrition decisions into a single day of the week.

Get a head start by reading our article on meal planning, and download our free meal template below!

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8
Know When To Walk Away

You already know that it’s important for your productivity to work smarter, not harder, right? Occasionally, we all have those days when we’re just not ourselves.

Blame it on poor sleep, missing out on your usual morning run, or a good old-fashioned creative block – either way, it’s crucial you don’t just try to push through.

Treat yourself to some fresh air; go for a walk around the block, or get yourself to a yoga or meditation class for some focused breathing.

You have the flexibility to be able to walk away for a while – so do it.

As long as you are not making excuses to get out of the work, it’s fine to recognize that you need a break. Your productivity will actually increase if you come back to your tasks in a better frame of mind.

Start Increasing Your Productivity From Home…

It’s not always easy to be self-disciplined when you work from home. Especially if you love a lie in and having breakfast in bed!

For some people, the temptations can be too great. But you don’t have to get dressed up in your work suit and pretend that you’re in the office to be more productive at home.

By simply understanding your temptations, building some structure into your day, and modifying your habits at home, it’s possible to be just as productive working from home as you are in the office.

Assess your habits, be aware of them, prepare your environment, fill up on good quality nutrition, take regular breaks, and employ a few of the other clever strategies above. You may be amazed at how much you can accomplish each and every day…

Do you have your own ideas for improving concentration and productivity while working remotely? Tell us in the comments section below, or share it with the #GreensTeam Facebook community!