Sometimes, we all wish we could be more productive. It happens to all of us who work from home. We get up, perhaps take the kids to school, then get back home feeling ready to get on with some work… except you don’t. You find an excuse to not do the things you should, and find other things to do instead.
I’ll just put the laundry out…
that recycling is stacking up…
Ooh, the cat wants feeding again…
If that’s not distracting enough, you refresh your email for the millionth time that day, or look at cute picture of tortoises. Ok, well not the tortoises… but you get the idea.
The point is, working at home requires a certain level of discipline to be productive. When it works well, you might be in your pyjamas, but you sure ain’t lazing around! You’re getting stuff done!
If you struggle to get through your to-do list, here are some Productivity Tips to get you back in the game!
1. Time it!
One technique I often use to get stuff done is the Pomodoro timer technique. You might have heard of it before. It is when you set a timer to go off every twenty minutes to half hour, and for that time you concentrate on one task. Now, that’s ok for some, but for me that half hour is way too long. Maybe I have a short attention span. I have adapted the technique to just fifteen minutes of concentrated effort.
You can achieve quite a bit in fifteen minutes. Especially a distraction free fifteen minutes. So, using the previous example, I would look at my clock and work solidly on the really boring article for fifteen minutes. I can handle that amount of boredom. Then, even if I am in mid-sentence, at the end of that time I get up off my ass and do something else.
That means fifteen minutes of housework! Same rules apply. Even if I am midway through washing up, I will leave it after the allotted amount of time to get back to writing. Call me crazy, but I have actually managed to sustain this through a whole day during school hours. It stops the boredom and procrastination setting in when faced with tasks we don’t like. It even becomes a fun challenge to see how much you can achieve in fifteen minute slots.
2. Be Organised
For work, I like to use Google calendar, simply because its already there on my browser waiting to be used. I use this calendar to schedule things like blog posts, writing jobs, deadlines, plus I add work related development such as webinars I want to attend.
I’m also a fan of a daily planner or two. On it you can record important tasks for the day, and feel a sense of achievement when you tick them off! In the evening, go through and evaluate your to-do list, and come up with a new plan for the next day.
Have a huuuge project to do? Break it into smaller bite-sized tasks, so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Focus on completing one or two of these tasks per day to help you get nearer to your goal.
3. Psyche Yourself
We tend to have more energy in the mornings… so that is when you should go all out on the larger tasks on your list. It can be mentally sapping to hit that 3pm lull, only to find you have a marathon ahead of you. Psych yourself up for your morning tasks like an athlete, and bring home the results!
4. No Distractions
If you are anything like me, you will constantly be checking your email. STOP!
Unless you are waiting to receive something important, log out of your email and don’t check it for at least two hours! This helps you keep your attention on the things you need to get done.
Where do you work, when you work at home? It can be hard to focus if you are surrounded by other things that compete for your attention. If you have your own office then great! Kudos to you. However, some of us don’t have that luxury. Try to find a quiet space in your home from where you can work. It might be the space under your stairs, a corner of your bedroom… heck even a garden shed. As long as you have somewhere you can get away from the noise of the TV, kids and your partner when you need to concentrate, you’re onto a good start.
Having an area that is dedicated just to work will also help you separate it from family life. It is not much fun to have mum typing furiously while everyone else is eating popcorn and watching Moana.
6. Look After Yourself
Burnout sucks, big time. Taking on to much at once can leave us feeling overwhelmed, so unless you look after yourself, it is hard to cope when you have a lot to do. Eat well, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. That will go a long way to helping your productivity levels.
Being productive is an art that CAN be learned. It might feel as if sometimes your to-do list is an uphill struggle, but just take it one step at a time. Sometimes there will be things that stop us achieving what we want to for the day, but don’t get disheartened. Accept that things do take time, but by following a few simple tips to increase productivity you will get where you want to be.