20 Simple Tips to Increase Your Productivity When You Work From Home
So, you work from home.
Nothing wrong with that. You’re your own boss and you can set your working hours as you want. You can also make more money than from a classic job.
But even with these advantages, you still have a problem:
It’s hard for you to be productive. Why?
Because you don’t associate your home with a job. You associate it with comfort. Hence, you waste long hours doing nothing.
Are you tired of this?
If yes, I’ll give you 20 work-from-home tips that’ll help you be more productive:
Make your to-do list
You don’t want to overcomplicate this later. Put your clothes near the bed because you’ll need to dress up and cook your meals. When you go to a job, your food is ready and you eat at a maximum of 30 minutes.
But there’s no reason to waste more time when you’re at home.
These steps should be enough for most of your days. Depending on the situation, you could have other things you need to take care of.
Use the 1-3-5 list
How many tasks do you have on your to-do list?
Probably too many and they aren’t even organized. It’s just a long list with things you need to get done, right?
Well, I suggest a new approach.
On a single day, think that you can only finish 1 big thing, 3 small things, and 5 small things. Try to narrow down your list to only those items.
The big thing is your hardest task. It’s the one you avoid the most, like writing the first chapter for your book, talking over the phone with 3 clients or reaching out to 10 people that can promote your work.
Medium things are less important, but they still bring results. This can include changing the copy for your services, finding 5 potential clients or answering your emails.
Small things are details. You can do them but nothing will happen if you won’t. It can include tasks like designing your website, reading for an hour about your industry or adding 3 people on your list for competitors.
Narrowing your day down to nine prioritized things and sticking to it is hard. But you’ll be more productive than if you’d use a list with 20 random tasks.
Make sure you sleep well
As a culture, we see sleep as a weakness. However, a lack of sleep is as harmful as being drunk.
You can’t be productive if you sleep for only 4 to 6 hours a night. You need to rest more in order to feel energized and motivated to tackle the day. Around 8 hours should be enough.
One more thing: You don’t find it weird to set an alarm to wake up, but you’ll probably find it “weird” to set a time to go to sleep. Get over it.
Start your day with a morning routine
The way you start a day it’s usually the same way you finish it.
Why would you wake up and scroll Instagram for 2 hours? You can use the same time to do something for yourself, like exercises, reading or meditation.
Every morning routine is different and you have to create one for your personal needs.
Once you do this, commit to it for 7 days. In time, it’ll become something natural and you’ll see the benefits.
Stay away from distractions
Your phone is the biggest problem as you’ll see calls and messages every 5 minutes.
Here’s my tip: Keep your phone in another room and turn it off. If you do this, you escape 90% of distractions.
How about your laptop? You need it for work.
Well, just turn off notifications and use software to limit your access on different websites. Log out from all your social media accounts and delete the email shortcut from the desktop. Otherwise, this will keep you busy.
Work from a clean desk
Forget everything you heard about making money in the bed.
You associate your bed with other activities, such as sleep or scrolling the internet for no reason.
Work from your desk and make sure it’s organized. The less clutter you have on your desk, the more you can focus.
You may also find it helpful to change your location. Try going to a different area instead of your home, like a coffee shop or the library for a total change in your mindset.
Start the day with your biggest, most important task
What if you have 2 big tasks? Handle the hardest first before going to the second. Do what matters most in the beginning and everything else will be easier.
Use the 60-60-30 system for work
Are you a workaholic?
If you work too much and don’t take any break, this will come with negative effects such as:
- Decision fatigue
- Lack of focus
- Damaged eyes
Take note that taking too many breaks can backfire, too. It makes it harder for you to focus.
That’s why I suggest you try the 60-60-30 time management technique.
According to this technique, you work for 50 minutes with full focus. Then, you take a quick 10-minute break. Repeat the process one more time. After that, take a 30-minute long break.
Prioritize your tasks
Your days will be filled with many tasks and that can make it hard for you to stay productive. So, find a way for you to sort your tasks.
Separate your tasks on a piece of paper in the following categories:
Urgent and Important: These are tasks that are critical to your career or life. You need to finish them right away in order to keep negative consequences from happening.
Important but not Urgent: These are tasks that you’re not required to do right away but you’ll need to accomplish them in the future.
Urgent but not Important: These are tasks that you can delegate to people who are skilled enough to accomplish them.
Not Important and not Urgent: These are the activities you should avoid at all costs. They are simply a complete waste of your time.
Don’t do multitasking
Most of us live our lives multitasking because we’re always in a hurry.
We talk on the phone while we driving. We listen to audio books while we’re at the gym. And we play videos while we write messages.
However, that’s not something productive. By multitasking, you’re actually wasting more time because:
- It’s less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task, and then switch back again
- It’s more complicated and, thus, more prone to stress and errors
- It can give you headaches
Multitasking forces you to pay a mental price each time you interrupt one task and jump to another. In other words, you lose time and focus. From now on, pick one task and work on it until you finish. You can move to something else after that.
You won’t be always motivated to work. It’d be better to create habits that can make your work easier. That way, you’ll follow through even when you’re no longer motivated.
It doesn’t matter what your profession is. You’ll do the same things every day. And to be consistent, you need new habits. If you count on your willpower, you’ll fail.
Give yourself deadlines
Deadlines directly impact how you spend your time. They force you to organize your tasks in order of priority so that you’re only working on objectives that move you closer to your most meaningful goals.
That’s why you need them.
If you don’t give yourself deadlines, you’ll act like you have all the time in the world. And you know that’s not true.
Use procrastination in your advantage
It’s almost impossible to never procrastinate. However, you can procrastinate on tasks that don’t move the needle, instead of the important work that needs to get done. For instance, instead of procrastinating on talking with your clients, try to procrastinate on designing your website. It’s a great trick to avoid things that waste your time and focus more on what really needs to get done.
Start to meditate
Most people consider meditation a waste of time. That’s actually not true.
Meditation can boost your productivity because:
- You’ll have a clear mind, without worries
- It’ll become much easier to focus and achieve flow
And you can start to meditate relatively easy. Choose a quiet place from your house and make sure there are no distractions around. Then, put yourself in a comfortable position and start breathing.
Every time your mind begins to shift its spotlight away from your breath and you get lost in thought, you simply bring your attention back to your breath. And then, you repeat this again and again until your meditation timer sounds.
You can start meditating 5 minutes/day. After a while, your focus, concentration, and attention span will improve, in addition to numerous other benefits.
Manage your energy
Do you ignore your health for work? Please don’t do this.
If you want to be productive, you need to be in shape. Sedentary life weakens your abilities. So, make sure you go to the gym. Exercise eliminates anxiety, boosts creativity, and clears the mind. It also releases endorphins for improved energy, helping you work more efficiently.
I truly believe you don’t need too many apps to be productive. But I really suggest you get one for notes.
You can use it for:
- Tracking progress
- Facebook ads ideas
- Blog posts you want to read
- Book lists
Keep your to-do list on a paper, though. Use virtual notes as an extension for your brain.
Improve your skills
When you work from home, you need multiple skills.
Besides time-management, you need to know about things like:
- Technical stuff
And many others, based on your area of expertise.
The better your skills are, the more value people see in what you offer. So, improve them as they’ll help you stand out from the crowd.
Spend your time using 80/20 rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, this rule suggests that 20% of your activities will bring 80% of your results.
In other words, two out of ten items, on any general to-do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together.
Understanding this principle is essential to learning how to prioritize your days, weeks, and months.
The sad fact is most people know the principle, but they don’t do anything with it.
They procrastinate on the top 10% or 20% of items that are the most valuable and important. They busy themselves with the least important 80% that contributes very little to their success.
If you want to get results from your work, do the opposite.
Measure your progress
You’ll need to track your working activities before you start working on improvements.
Writing down anything that you’ve done that contributed (whether positively or negatively) to a project is an easy way to be more aware of your actions and change them for the better.
Small wins are also massive motivators. You just rarely recognize them because your mind reminds you just about what you’re not doing.
To stay committed to the work that matters most, you need to find ways to measure, track and feel good about the progress you make every single day.
It doesn’t matter how much passion you have for your work because you’ll be bored after a while. The more time you spend working on something without getting anything, the harder it is to continue doing it.
That’s why you need rewards. For instance:
- Give yourself 5-minute breaks for every 30 minutes of deep work you do
- Allow yourself to go on a trip after you accomplished your online monthly goal
- Watch a TV show (guilt-free) after you finished a hard day of work
The reward can be anything you choose as long as you’re giving yourself something you genuinely enjoy.
A lot of people live the good life of making money from home. However, not everyone is successful.
If you want to do well working that way, you need to organize yourself and prioritize your tasks and goals.
I gave you some of my best work-from-home tips. Although you don’t need to implement them all at once, it’ll be great if you’d use at least one or two things from here.
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Author: Cosmin Cretu
Cosmin shows busy people how to use psychology to become more productive and take control of their lives. You can download his free e-book and learn how to stop procrastinating in 3 simple steps.