If you are one of those lucky people commanding your post from your kitchen table these days, the chances are you know what we’re talking about when we say ‘productivity guilt’. You work alone and there’s nobody else around to keep in-check with.
Entering your consciousness at points throughout the day, you may well be asking whether it’s just you but you’d probably be surprised.
When we’re not held together by the constraints of four office walls, our efforts of procrastination reveal so much about self-management. When you start dusting door frames and sorting the ‘odd sock’ drawer, you know you’ve got problems!
You’re not alone in this dilemma, and for every person that thinks working from home is simple and freeing, there are more of us keen to maintain our reputation as trustworthy and productive key players. Here are some useful tips we’d like to share with you to help minimise that dreaded ‘p’ word and unlock your productivity potential.
How important is my working environment for productivity?
The short answer is ‘very’.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of a home office or spare room in which we can set up a desk and block out all the noise, but having a dedicated work station for productivity is crucial to settling into a routine of work.
When arranging your work space at home, you should consider:
- a comfortable seated position that supports your back;
- positioning your screen and keyboard at a level so that you are not straining;
- getting into the habit of tidying and organising your workspace regularly; and
- compiling your task list at the end of a day’s work – so you can get stuck-in first thing – no excuses.
1 Plan and goal-set
It goes without saying, but goal setting is so important when working solo at home.
Breaking down huge weekly task lists into bite-sized chunks will give a sense of achievement and purpose to each day – especially if you have been stuck inside your own head, justifying your progress to yourself all week. With the self-discipline of planning and sticking to your own schedule, ticking off the to-do-list means you can avoid working overtime when Saturday comes around.
When your home base becomes an extension of the office, work-life balance is crucial to maintain that space as a positive one!
2 Work the hours that are most productive for you
If you are able, and you have the flexibility to, you should definitely take advantage of setting your own working hours. By settling into your own positive rhythm, you are likely to see improvements in the quality of your outputs.
I usually get to my laptop early and knock out some quick wins before I go for a shower and get stuck in for the day. That way I already feel accomplished and boosted before I get invested in the meaty tasks. Some people are naturally night owls and if you are happy to trade a couple of hours during the day so you can make your gym class, then go for it. As long as you put in the keyboard time that you’re being paid for, why does it matter which hours you work?
Just make sure you don’t miss that lunchtime Zoom meeting that you scheduled!
3 Divide the day with lunch
Speaking of lunch, it’s the best part of the working day and so many people don’t even take one!
Don’t underestimate the power of the half time break. Even if you just get up for the second bowl of cereal of the day, you should replenish and feed your body. By eating a decent breakfast and lunch you stand a much better chance of not snacking throughout the day, as this is a killer of self-accomplishment. Yep, you got the project finished but you also ate the entire contents of the snack drawer in the process.
4 Coffee and connections
Working at home or in a makeshift office can be quite lonely if you are a sociable person.
When you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up, coffee is your best friend when wine is not an option! Text your friends and colleagues and make yourself a brew. If you limit your coffee consumption and social time to those allotted ‘coffee breaks’, you will be strategic when you take them, and this will help keep your chat time moderated (your coffee intake regulated) and your progress on track.
5 Get out of the house and exercise
After a full day at your ‘desk’ you’ll probably be feeling stiff and lethargic.
Heading outside and walking this off is really important for your joints and peace of mind. Have you ever noticed how alert your senses are when you step outside after a day at home on your laptop? Better still, if you’ve hit a dry patch in your creative genius, take a stroll for a change of scenery.
Some of the best ideas come when you’re not consciously fretting over the lack of them. Basic exercise releases positive endorphins, and taking care of your mental and physical health is even more important that your tick list.
6 Take advantage of the privileges
Finally, with this feel-good list, the thing to remember is that we can continually improve our productivity output, but we must do what works for us.
Experiment and make the most of your ‘office away from the office’. Listen to your music, bake your bread in your pyjamas and cuddle the cat. Better work-life flexibility is something we all strive for, so if you can craft your schedule to work for you, or improve yours, just keep doing what you’re doing.
Find your inspiration, work hard and inject your passion in all that you do – you’ll see your productivity skyrocket!
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