The Coronavirus pandemic has recently forced millions of people around the globe to stay at home as a precautionary measure to combat and prevent the spread of this virus.
If your company has suddenly forced you to work remotely, you must be wondering how can I stay productive and effective while working from home.
The same goes for business owners and students who are all facing these challenges that arise from working remotely.
I´ve been working online for over 3 years now. As an entrepreneur, and owner of my leading digital agency in South Yarra, Melbourne, I learned some amazing productivity hacks that enabled me to stay sharp and productive while working from my home.
Working from home offers all sorts of distractions that can disrupt your productivity.
Scrolling through social media, answering phone calls or text messages from friends or relatives can end up taking some of your most precious focus and time from your main tasks.
According to some recent studies, research has shown that once you get distracted, it takes an average of 22 minutes to recover your full focus on the task you were working. Sounds familiar?
Over the years, I´ve been reading and studying a lot around productivity in order to master some of the best practices to avoid distractions and remain focused.
The reality is that we all have the same 24 hours in a given day, the only difference between you and the most successful high achievers out there is the way you spend your time.
That´s why I decided to create 6 productivity hacks that will enable you to stay more productive while working from home.
Tip #1 Plan Your Day
Make sure to schedule and plan for your activities in advance. I suggest utilising a diary (choose a format- a digital diary or a traditional physical lined diary).
If you don´t plan your day in advance, you´ll end up being someone else´s priority and reacting to the demands of everyone else.
As a result, you will end up feeling you haven´t achieved any of your most important tasks and you would have missed out on the highest leverage actions that will move the needle in your favour.
That´s why I usually like to schedule and plan my week in advance so as to allocate all the activities in a calendar in order to ensure I get them done.
My motto is what´s not scheduled in the calendar, it doesn´t get done.
Planning and scheduling your week in advance will give you a clear mental picture of what needs to get done, so you can then chunk your daily tasks that will move you closer to your weekly goals.
I am a big believer in being proactive rather than reactive in order to achieve more throughout my day.
That´s why, the first thing I do before I even open my computer each day, is to start my morning ritual.
I usually commence by journaling and creating a plan for the day.
I ask myself “what is it that I want to accomplish today”?
I then come up with a list of the three main tasks I want to accomplish during that day. Once I choose my top 3 tasks, I identify the main task of the day that I know I will be satisfied if that´s the only thing I did during that day.
After reading and studying some of the most successful-high achievers of the world, something that I learned was that not all of your actions need to be treated equally. Some will move the needle more than others.
This is usually referred as the 80/20 principle which basically states that 20% of what you´ve identified on your priority list is going to equal to 80% of your results.
Tip #2 Focus On Your Hardest And Most Important Task First
In order to perform as a high-achiever, you want to spend the first hours of your day working on your most important and hardest task first.
I know this may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but trust me, you will typically procrastinate on this task unless you tackle it first.
Research shows that we have more willpower during the first hours of the day as opposed to late at night. If you leave something that is really important for you as the last priority of the day, it´s quite likely that it will never get done.
Just think about it for a second, ever tried going to the gym after a long day at work? The longer you wait to do something, the harder it gets.
That´s why you should make it a priority to execute your biggest leverage task first before you embark on doing anything else.
Tip #3 Eliminate Distractions When Working From Home
We live in a digital era where it´s very easy to get distracted. We are constantly bombarded by gadgets from our electronic devices and multiple notifications that pull us into multiple directions that take our focus from our main priorities.
When you are working from home, it is very easy to get distracted. Therefore, once you have clearly defined your task list, the best way to start is to establish a distraction-free zone:
- Phone on airplane mode
- Disable all app notifications on your phone
- Log out of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
- Use apps like Freedom that will turn off certain websites or internet
- Set the Mood: Listen to music that gets you into a flow
- Interruptions: Prevent them by letting people know that you´ll be occupied with work
- Snacks: By your side with some tea. Coffee if that´s your thing. And water. Always water
Tip #4 Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro (Italian for tomato) Technique gets its name from a tomato-shaped timer that its creator, Francesco Cirillo, first used to combat procrastination.
How To Use Pomodoros To Improve Focus?
The Pomodoro Technique is simple, first decide on a clear task that you want to focus on that will take you at least 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
If your task takes longer than 25 minutes, you can go for a longer period of extreme focus (50 minutes) but then taking a longer break (10 minutes).
How To Use Breaks Effectively?
Use your 5-10 minutes Pomodoro breaks as your time to recover.
You may perform some activities such as getting some fresh air, meditating, going for a quick stroll, reading, stretching out, or getting a nice cup of coffee.
The important thing here is to avoid going to social media to check your Facebook, or Instagram during your breaks.
You want to avoid working or thinking about work during this time. The whole point here is to relax, be present in the moment and let go of any distractions for a few minutes.
Why Is It Important To Track Your Time?
If you work for long periods of time with no breaks you will notice that your attention and focus begins to fade away. Below is a chart that shows your effectiveness levels without taking a break:
Now compared it by working less minutes but incorporating short periods of breaks:
Tip #5 Confine Your Work Space
You should designate a space as your workstation which is a calm and comfortable area for you to work avoiding any unnecessary distractions, as we described above.
If you don´t have a separate room, then find an area where it’s not that busy and the traffic flow is minimum. Maybe try a small corner of a room in the main area.
Tip #6 Having A Morning Ritual
This has been a game-changer for me in both my personal and professional life by allowing me to become more calm, present and relaxed throughout the day.
The way you begin your day really does determine the extent of focus, energy excitement and excellence you bring to it.
Some people get up early but jump straight into watching the news, surfing online, scanning social feeds, and checking messages.
I am a big believer of creating your own morning ritual, which can be exercising in the morning, reading, meditating, listening to some music, stretching, etc.
Whatever makes you feel better and at your maximum potential.
Top athletes and high performers always have a specific ritual or routine they follow before showing up for a big game or going live on stage.
If you want to be unstoppable, you need to be at your best.
I have a very detailed morning routine. I usually wake up around 5-5:30 am, meditate for about 5-10 minutes, practice some gratitude, recite some affirmations and read a book.
Engaging these morning rituals enable me to be in a peak and focused state.
I can then start my day at my best which sets the tone for the remainder of the day.
These are my 6 productivity hacks for how to be more productive working from home.
I hope that these strategies help you become more efficient and productive while working from home. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adapt to new habits.
Play around and see what works for you. Which productivity tip will you start implementing? We would love to see your comments.