Are you finding it hard to focus while working from home? Has procrastination got the better of you? Is the call of the laundry or dishes more appealing than that report you are meant to be writing? In this blog, I explore the 7 Ways You Can Boost your Health and Productivity While Working from Home.
Clear Desk – Clear Mind
I am a big believer in removing clutter from your desk before getting to work. Now this isn’t an excuse to procrasti-clean. Rather, ensure that you have all the essential things you need in your immediate work area to make the day run smoothly. For me, I make sure I have my diary, to-do-list, a range of pens highlighters and post-it notes (more on this later) and a beverage close by. By clearing your desk, you can create a fresh start and reduce unnecessary distractions.
Write a To-Do-List the Night Before
At the end of your workday, or over the weekend, spend a moment to jot down the important tasks that you need to get done the following day. Writing down a to-do-list means that you won’t use mental energy “trying to remember everything”. It also means that when you get ready to sit down to work the next day, you already have a plan of what you need to do. My to-do-list hack is to write one task that I can easily achieve, so that at the start of my day I can cross something off. It’s mind-game I pay with myself to demonstrate how efficient I am. And it’s so satisfying crossing a task off the list at the start of the day.
Eat the Frog
Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.” The frog in this context is the biggest and most daunting task on your to-do-list. It can be easy to get side-tracked into all the little tasks and avoid the big ones. You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done when you complete the biggest task first. So go on, Eat that frog!
Keep Your Workspace Separate
If its possible, set up an office space in a study or spare room. This way you can “compartmentalize” the time when you are at home and the time when you are at work. Then at the end of the day you can close the door to your “office” and enjoy being at “home”. If you do need to set up your office at the dining table, then have clear boundaries around that space. Set it up and pack it down at the end of the workday. Try to find another space to take breaks so you don’t feel like you are “at work” during your lunch break.
What’s a Pomodoro?
The Pomodoro technique is a time-management hack. It was created by Francesco Cirillo who used a tomato shaped timer (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato) to improve efficiency and time management. Using this technique, you set the timer for 25 minutes, start a task, when the timer goes off put a tick on a piece of paper and when you have more than 4 ticks, you can take a break. Now you can vary the working time limits to whatever suits you. For shorter attention spans, work in 10-15-minute blocks before taking breaks. Work with whatever if best for you.
Find Variety in the Everyday
Sometimes there is nothing more boring than feeling as though you are chained to your desk, without freedom to move. This taps into one of our core needs. The Need for VARIETY. (You can read more about the core needs here). The need for variety can mean that we distract ourselves of procrastinate to keep ourselves entertained if a task is particularly arduous. As a visual person I fulfill my need to variety with tones of pens, highlighters and colorful post-it notes on my desk. This gives the option of choosing either the blue or green highlighter to mark tasks off my to-do-list or the pink or yellow post it notes to write a reminder on to. I also make sure I have variety of beverages on hand, so I don’t get sidetracked thinking “I can’t get to work yet – I don’t have a coffee.” I usually have a coffee, water bottle, a glass of mineral water with lime juice within arms reach so once again, I can choose what I want to drink.
Sitting for long periods will kill your motivation to work, and your productivity will plummet! When the Pomodoro timer goes off, use this as an opportunity to stand up and stretch and move. Stretch your neck, your arms, your back and your hips. Walk up and down the hallway. Do squats, lunges, star jumps. Take a walk around the block at lunch time. Get your body moving and blood pumping. A little bit of movement not only breaks up your day, but it can ease postural aches and pains from sitting, improve productivity so you get more done and boost your mood thanks to the endorphins that exercise creates. If its a struggle to leave the house for exercise, try walking around while on the phone to get a bit more movement into your day.
By making a few small changes to your routine, you can ensure that working from home is just as, if not more productive than working in the office.