Which techniques can I use to be more productive while working from home?

You can definitely be productive while working (and studying) from home!

What does it take?

You will need to work on building self-discipline, developing focus on your priorities, meticulously planning your day, and making the most of every minute.

Here are several hacks that can help you be more productive from home.

ONE. Jumpstart your morning.

There is one podcast that has completely changed the way I look at mornings. It’s called Achieve Your Goals and it’s hosted by Hal Elrod, the author of a book called The Miracle Morning. It’s an in-depth guide to structuring your mornings so that you can accomplish more things early in the day. When you realize you can carve out more time to do things that will get you closer to your personal goals, you stop seeing mornings as just that brief time when you shower, have breakfast, put on some clothes and rush out the door. It can literally change your entire day!

TWO. Do your hard work early.

According to scientific research, the brain’s peak performance happens 2-4 hours after we wake up. Early work allows the brain to focus fully on the problem at hand, with fewer distractions, less inputs from our environment, and with a lot of energy that we’ve gained from a restful night. Adjust your mornings so that you can do your deep work first – anything that requires the most concentration (reading, writing, analyzing, critical thinking, problem solving). Stay away from checking emails and social media feeds before noon, leave calls and meetings for the mid to late afternoon, and listen to the news later in the day (while driving and running errands, for example) instead of first thing when you wake up.

THREE. Become a pro at time management.

Instead of working at your desk for hours at a stretch, try a different approach to your work: use a timer to divide up your working hours into manageable increments to allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way. For example, you can work in 30 or 60 minute increments to maximize concentration. For even shorter periods of concentration, try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks. When you’re done with one segment, step away from your desk and do something completely unrelated to work to give your brain a chance to rest: take a 5-minute walk to get some fresh air, stretch your body for a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee or tea.

FOUR. Get social in the early afternoon.

Once you get a lot of your deep work out of the way, use your afternoon to get social with your network. This covers the 12-4 p.m. time range, when you take a lunch break and the few hours after lunch. It’s a good time of day for collaboration, and you can use it to schedule meetings, make phone calls, get involved in online discussions, and work on projects where you can provide feedback to others and get valuable advice regarding your work.

FIVE. Use your evening for the big picture.

Evenings, which are usually in the 5-9 p.m. range, can be scheduled for strategic thinking. This is typically the time of day when the brain slows down, doesn’t go at top speed to adhere to deadlines you set for it, so it has space for more creative thinking. If you’re thinking of setting goals, strategizing where you want to be in 6 months’ time or a year with your personal development or career, this is when you can outline your next steps. It’s a great time for being bold, for dreaming, scheming, and planning. To maximize your strategy planning, write down everything that you’d like to be doing in the near future. Writing things down helps solidify our commitment to ourselves to stay focused and hold ourselves more accountable.

SIX. Get your body moving.

Depending on your personal preferences, your fitness levels, and your work schedule, select a time in your day to move your body and get an energy boost. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hit the gym at 5 in the morning (unless that is your optimum exercise time, in which case you’re already one step ahead!). Pick an activity you enjoy doing, or choose something entirely new to give yourself an additional challenge early in the day. Your mini-workout can be as short as 15 minutes (a morning yoga routine or sun salutation poses) or it can take just a bit more time, about 20-30 minutes (a quick power walk through the neighborhood, a run, a pilates session or a session of squats, lunges, pushups, etc.).

SEVEN. Treat yourself well.

After a day’s worth of working towards you goals, you should give yourself a small reward. What you choose to do will depend on your personal interests, your passions, as well as your personality. If you enjoy spending time with friends, go out for a cup of coffee or ask them over for dinner, watch a movie together, and just have fun. If you’d rather spend some quiet time alone or with your family or your partner, make dinner with some of your favorite ingredients, watch a film or a documentary that interests you, or do something else that makes you feel happy and energized, like playing guitar, painting, writing, or any project that fully engages your mind and your imagination.

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