The last few years has seen a huge change in the way a lot of people work. Working from home is becoming the new normal and can have great benefits, including no daily commute, more family time, etc. BUT there can be a downside if you do not have clear work/life boundaries and problems with disciplining yourself to get the job done. Whether you are studying, working for yourself or an employee working remotely, I have written about some tips that help me keep on track while working from home.
Your productivity during work hours can have a huge impact on how you spend your after-work hours and your health/wellbeing in general. Maximising your productivity is extremely important for avoiding a blurring between your work and home lives and keeping a healthy work-life balance.
This can be easier said than done, especially with modern technology playing a big huge role in these blurred boundaries.
Here's how you can increase your productivity and get more done in your work hours.
Focus on Urgent Tasks First
On paper, it might seem smart to ease yourself into the working day with simple tasks but this can actually work against you from a productivity perspective.
The big reason why this is? It's a major energy zapper. By the time you move onto more urgent tasks, you're already running out of motivation and energy.
Prioritising urgent tasks first means you can hit the ground running with them before you run out of enthusiasm and energy. Eat that Frog is a great motivational book that discusses this very thing.
Take Regular Breaks
Powering through without breaks might seem like the smartest way to get things done but it also leaves you feeling super drained and hitting a mental wall by mid-afternoon.
Taking regular breaks helps keep you focused and improves productivity. This is really important at lunchtime to keep you motivated and productive through the afternoon. If you skip your lunch break and keep working, you're more likely to experience the 3 pm energy slump and feel unproductive after that.
Work For 90 Minute Periods
According to studies, working in 90 minute periods can be hugely effective for your productivity.
Researchers from Florida State University found this worked super well for elite performers and athletes. Working for 90 minutes before taking a break helped them to perform at their peak.
You can use the same principle yourself by breaking up your work into 90 minute periods to keep your mind fresh and ready to maximise your productivity. During your break, schedule in a 10 minute walk around your home and/or property. Take a glass of water to drink while you wander in your garden.
Stick to the 2 Minute Rule
If you have items on the to-do list that can be done in 2 minutes or less, slotting these in quickly before you do urgent tasks can rack up some easy small wins.
You can build momentum and get the day off to a positive start. With that under your belt, you can kickstart your productivity ready for more urgent tasks.
Check Emails At Set Times
Emails can be a huge time thief, especially when they're setting off your notifications all the time.
Getting into the habit of only checking emails at certain times of the day avoids this and boosts your productivity.
The golden rule? Don't respond to emails outside of this - however tempting it may be!
This can be hard if you usually jump on emails as soon as they come in and feel obliged to get back to people asap. Turning off or muting notifications can help with this.
Multitasking must be the best way to be productive, right? Wrong!
Instead of saving time, it actually costs you time and hinders your productivity.
It's because your brain is jumping back and forth between tasks. The end result? You're at a much higher risk of cognitive overload, and your reaction times can be a whole lot longer. This is why it can take longer to get things done.
There's another problem too. According to a study from the University of Sussex, doing a ton of multitasking can have negative effects on cognitive and emotional control.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be a permanent thing. According to experts, you can reverse these effects but crucially, you need to stop trying to multitask.
To boost productivity and keep your brain healthy, it's super important to finish one task before you dive into another.
Quit Chasing Perfection
Chasing perfection can be a major blow to productivity, especially if you're waiting on something to be totally perfect before moving on.
Changing your mindset is important for switching this up. Instead of looking to do everything perfectly, aim just to do your best first time around. You can always come back to it, later on, to improve on it. But chasing absolute perfection straight away wastes a ton of time and makes it hard to be productive.
Get Regular Exercise
According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, regular exercise can make you more productive.
Taking breaks to do some exercise can be smart since it gives your mind a break from work and boosts your physical and mental energy. Chair stretches can be helpful in preventing tension in your neck, shoulders and back. We all know by now, how a sedentary job can affect your health & life expectancy. As mentioned above, a 10 minute walk around your house or garden can improve happiness and general fitness.
Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz, Henna Hasson. Employee Self-rated Productivity and Objective Organizational Production Levels. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2011; 53 (8): 838 DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822589c2