Since the Coronavirus lock-down began back in March, working from home became mandatory for everyone who was able to. The appeal is obvious; no commuting, no suit and tie and the freedom to plan your day as you choose. However, if you’re not used to working from home, managing the unfamiliar distractions while retaining your productivity can often be a challenge for many.
Kick-start productivity by following these 10 simple hacks and start your journey to success.
Make your workspace work for you
Plopping down on the nearest comfy chair and balancing your laptop on your lap is not the most effective way to stay productive throughout the day.
Take some time to think about the way you will work from home and create a dedicated workspace away from distractions like the TV to help keep you focused.
Lay out your workspace to help with your productivity, keeping everything you’ll need close to hand.
Having a part of your home that you can designate as your ‘workspace’ helps to get you in the right frame of mind when you sit down to start your day.
Create a timetable and set goals
Planning is key to being productive. Each evening or first thing in the morning before you start work, make a list of your priorities for the day.
Work out which of your priorities is the most important and schedule that as your first job of the day. Brian Tracy calls this ‘eating the frog’ – dealing with your most important task first and then moving on to your next most important and so on.
Don’t put too much on your list of priorities. Take a ‘less is more’ approach to your list and only focus on accomplishing tasks that matter.
Follow the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule states that 20% of what you do will give you 80% of your results.
To increase your productivity, eliminate everything that doesn’t matter as it’ll have a minimal effect on your productivity and focus on the 20% that will give you the biggest wins.
When you create your to-do-list, resist the temptation to fill it with tasks that will not make a difference. Instead, have three to five important tasks that you want to complete during the day and order them by priority.
Be intentional in how you approach this and ‘eat your frog’ at the start of the day, moving to less important tasks as your energy and motivation decrease.
Use the urgent task matrix
When you’ve deciding on how to schedule your day, the urgent task matrix or ‘Eisenhower matrix’ can help you decide how important a task really is.
Turn off notifications
When you work at home, one of the biggest distractions are notifications. The constant pinging of emails, texts, or funny videos over WhatsApp will have a significant impact on your productivity.
When you need to concentrate on your top priorities, turn everything off. You can dedicate a specific time into your timetable for checking and responding to these notifications.
You must remain hyper-vigilant and eradicate anything that stops you from focusing or reduces your productivity.
Use templates where you can
Automation is the key to productivity. When you have routine tasks to complete, using templates that speed up your work can help your productivity.
Often it is worth the time designing and producing a template for a specific task, especially if it is something that you will need to do regularly.
The time you save using templates can then be allocated to more important tasks that will have a bigger impact on your productivity.
Structure your working hours
It’s easy to use the excuse of no longer having a commute to enjoy a long breakfast, take the dog for a walk and check the news before thinking about work.
However, if you’re a morning person, getting started early before anyone else means you can get a ton of work done without any distractions.
Create a system
A great way of managing distractions, without your colleagues or family members feeling you’re ignoring them is to have a system in place.
When you plan your timetable, work in some time where people contact you throughout the day, and if they need you urgently, they’ll need to call.
This not only reduces distractions and keeps you productive, but it will also remove the feeling of stress and pressure that comes from obsessively dealing with emails as they arrive.
Try the two-minute rule
Procrastination is one of the biggest productivity killers. It is so easy to add everything to your to-do-list that comes along during the day, to avoid having to deal with it there and then.
Sometimes this is a good strategy, but if you’re adding small quick tasks, it often takes longer to add them to your list as it does to complete them.
Instead, why not adopt a two-minute rule? If you accomplish the task in two minutes or less, just do it straight away and crack on with the rest of your day. It’ll remove the stress of having to deal with lots of simple, small tasks at the end of the day, eating into your evening, and it won’t impact too much on your overall productivity.
Maintain a routine
To be efficient and effective when working from home, it’s important to have a routine. Start work at the same time each day and finish at around the same time.
Remember to take regular breaks during the day, it will increase your productivity as you’ll be fresher and energised for longer.
Try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer and work for thirty minutes and then take a five-minutes break. Once you’ve gone through four cycles, reward yourself with a longer break to grab a snack or go for a walk, then you’ll feel fresher and ready to hit the next task with enthusiasm.
Being productive when you work from home is easy but needs a little thought and preparation to make it work. Use these simple tips to plan your day so you can start working smarter and not harder.