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Following on from my previous post 7 simple things to help you work from home, I decided to do another home working post but this time I wanted to talk about how to be productive. There are often lots of distractions that can affect us when working from home, especially during the current situation where you may have caring responsibilities and kids running about. I have been working at home for about 6 years now and find that simple and small things can make all the difference in our productivity. Read on to find out more.
Some people are great at jumping out of bed and getting straight in to work mode. I’m not one of those people. I highly recommend following a morning routine to help you get in the flow and to prepare your mind and body for the working day ahead.
My routine after I have got up and gone downstairs is usually something like the following:
- Feed the dogs
- Have a coffee (one of my little luxuries right now more than ever)
- Share my morning coffee thoughts on my Instagram page
- Fill in my Line a Day book
- Read my book for anything between 15 and 30 minutes
- Maybe do some other mindful activity, such as colouring
- Exercise – if possible I go for my morning walk or do some stretching or simple exercises
Again, some people can be very productive working from home whilst staying in their pyjamas. Again, I am not one of those people. I don’t dress smartly by any means, but I do get dressed. I always wear comfy clothing as part of my pain management – things such as joggers, a t-shirt, and a jumper.
I find getting dressed helps me get in the right frame of mind, helps me feel more professional, and gets me in that working mindset.
More than ever we are using video camera technology to meet up with colleagues, clients, and customers, and it’s important to set the right impression by at least getting dressed and not staying in your nightwear.
Find a suitable workspace
Again, this will help you focus and switch off from your ‘living’ and ‘home life’ to do list and chores. You need to make sure your working area is free of clutter – a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind – and any distractions that can impact on your motivation and your productivity.
Ideally the best set up is working in a dedicated working from home space. I am lucky to have an office where everything is set up and I can also close the door at the end of the day to help me switch off.
If you aren’t fortunate to have an offie or dedicated room to work in, find a quiet area, such as a dining or kitchen table, set up your workspace as I suggest in my previous post, and make sure you are not disturbed by anyone else in your house. I talk more about this below.
Schedule your day and time
A good habit to get in to is to plan your next day the night before, that way you know what your priorities are and you can dive straight in to your work. Be clear on your working hours and share this with those in your household so they can limit how much they disturb you.
It’s also a good idea to schedule your priorities and tasks so that you know what needs doing and when as this can help you stay on track to achieving your to do list.
I also recommend where you can, to plan in your breaks and lunchtime. I find when I don’t do this, I get sucked in to my work and the time runs away so quick that several hours have passed and I’ve either not moved much, which makes it harder to manage my pain, or I’m not on track to hitting my goals and completing my tasks.
Having a break can often seem counter-productive, but it is the opposite – a 5 or 10 minute break away from your desk and constant thinking about work can really affect your energy levels which means you are more productive than if you hadn’t taken any breaks.
Build and plan in chores and time away for caring responsibilities if you have to, that way you will automatically feel more in control and know when you need to do these things.
Also, be realistic about your priority tasks and what you need get done. Don’t set yourself a huge to do list, as there is nothing more un-motivating than not getting through that list. It’s also counter-productive. Pick no more than 1 to 3 urgent or key tasks that have to be done that day and this will help take the pressure off, then do more if you can or if you have the time. And always eat that frog first thing – get the hardest / most difficult task done first, otherwise it will zap your energy thinking about it until you do it.
Another good tip is to find some energiser work to do during the afternoon slump. We very often feel tired and lethargic after lunch, but if we do something that excites us, is engaging and uplifting, then we are more likely to feel more energised and it will help keep us going through the afternoon.
For me, this energiser work is usually something that makes a difference to other people, something that I specifically enjoy doing, or some personal or career development, as all of these make me feel good and want to keep going. I understand though that not all jobs are like mine and this may not always be possible.
Turn off the TV, keep the kids out of the room (if at all possible), turn off your phone notifications (except phone calls if people need to call you), and turn off emails (you can set specific times to look at these if you really need to).
Distractions are one of the biggest thieves of time and they say it can take on average 23 minutes to get fully focused on the task you were doing before you were distracted.
I like a bit of background noise, so I usually have the radio on. The music can often boost my energy too if a good song comes on.
Eat the right food and drink plenty
Eating the right food and the right amounts is a good way to manage your energy levels. Eat foods that you know won’t make you feel bloated or uncomfortable, lethargic and drained, and choose ones that give you the nutrition and energy you need to get you through the day. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable and won’t help you be productive at all.
Make sure you drink enough water too. Water helps keep us hydrated which also helps our energy levels. And drinking enough water can often mean we don’t overeat when we aren’t actually hungry.
It helps manage your time if you can plan your meals and snacks the night before for the next working day. And whenever you can, eat your lunch away from your desk. This will help give you that mental and physical break that can make your afternoon much more productive.
Get some fresh air and movement
I also talked about this in my previous post. Having a proper break with some fresh air and ideally some exercise too, can make your day much more productive. It can boost your energy which means you get more done. It helps your mind, body and wellbeing and is an important part of self-care when working from home.
Go for a 30 minute walk on your lunch break; have a walking teleconference; walk and talk in your lounge or garden. Anything to get some more movement, steps, and fresh air in to your day at home will be so much more beneficial than what you probably realise.
How are you productive when you work from home?
What food gives you energy to keep going in the afternoon?
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