Five Daily Habits to Help you Stay Productive
When Working From Home
Transitioning to working from home can be tough when it isn't what you are used to. All the distractions, a new environment, the new forms of communicating with team members... it can be a lot!
But take it from someone who made the switch years ago - all you need is a few good habits to help you kick the confusion and power into productivity mode.
Here are the top tips my clients find useful when they are adapting to working from home.
HABIT #1: CREATE A RITUAL THAT KICKS OFF YOUR WORKDAY
Whether this is taking a walk around the block to mimic a commute, doing the NYT mini crossword puzzle, meditating, making your cup of coffee… whatever the action is, make it unique to this time of day.
Doing this ritual and getting straight to work every morning will help program your brain to know it's time to buckle down!
HABIT #2: SECTION YOUR DAY
Naturally, our ability for certain tasks ebbs and flows throughout the day. This is different for everyone which is why some people write best in the morning and others stay up till the wee hours of the night pumping out their best work. Track your productivity levels to understand when you are most capable of tackling various types of work. Then, schedule your daily tasks around that when possible.
Pick a technique to try out and track the days you feel it is helping you succeed. Seeing a pattern that it isn’t working for you? Switch it up and try a different approach. We are all wired differently and there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to scheduling for productivity.
HABIT #3: ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Working from home has it's own unique distractions and challenges, remove any possible distractions in order to help you succeed.
Examples of this:
Keep your workspace tidy
Don't use your phone for work? Put it in "Do Not Disturb" mode
Need your phone for work? Leverage google phone or skype calls so as not to get distracted by apps on your phone OR use settings on your phone to restrict you from using apps that drain your time and productivity
Sharing kid duty with a spouse? Set a schedule for who is "in charge of the kids" throughout the day so you can plan around this responsibility
See bonus below for more suggestions
Identify what your biggest distractor is throughout the day and create a plan to circumvent your productivity nemesis. Track your progress and reward yourself on days you outwit your Achilles heel.
HABIT #4: MAKE SURE TO MOVE
Sitting and staring at your computer for hours on end is going to lead to you having headaches and, eventually, burn out. Normally in an office environment, you would be walking to meetings, walking to the kitchen for some snacks, walking to chat with your coworkers - you move more around an office than you may realize.
Use your time tracking to slip in movement when you are least productive during the day. Or try the famous pomodoro method - work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break; repeat 4 times and on the last round, take a longer break (about a half-hour). Or stretch during meetings that you aren't actively participating in. Make up your own routine, just make sure to incorporate movement into your day, ideally broken up throughout to help air your brain so that it can refocus when you get back to your desk.
HABIT #5: SET YOUR WORK INTENTION FOR THE NEXT DAY
At the end of every day, figure out what it is you are going to be focusing on the next day. This way, as soon as you sit down at your desk you are crystal clear on what to work on. No need to waste time wondering what to do, waiting around to be told
Finally (and this isn’t so much as a habit as a way to support the above productivity habits), set up your workspace in a way that is going to work for you - not against you.
Have your desk (whether this is an actual desk or a space you have commandeered in the house to use as your desk) face a wall or window when possible. Having your back to the room will help eliminate distractions.
Also, when possible, set up in a separate room from everyone you are self-quarantined with. If your space does not allow for this, you may want to put up a divider or curtain (that you can easily tack to the ceiling) to separate your “office” from the room it was formerly part of. At the end of the day, move the screen, tie back the curtain and the room can be whole again.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN
So, you have the list of habits that take my client's work-from-home-productivity levels from "chicken without a head" to "ruler of the wfh roost", but how do YOU make the shift?
My clients track habits they want to incorporate into their lives on a one-page, printable checklist until the habits become second nature. This provides them the reminder and positive reinforcement of adapting new habits and behaviors in order to stay productive when working from new and sometimes not ideal environments.
Tracking your behaviors is the key to success in making shifts in your routine. To get a copy of this checklist, simply enter your email below and I'll send a printable pdf right to your inbox.