It’s the end of week one of full on lockdown in the UK, where half the country (or more) are now working from their sofa, dining table or home office. Staying productive when working from home is easier for some, with less distractions from colleagues and time to focus on the really important stuff without being dragged into meetings, but with nearly everyone now working from home, things have got trickier…
The meetings have moved to the sofa and even those who used to love the peace of working from home are now being distracted with Janine wanting everyone to have a virtual tea break every hour!
It’s even harder to be productive when there is a global pandemic happening on our doorsteps and 24/7 news pinging to our phones via news apps, social media and your Great Aunt’s, neighbour’s, son’s, second cousin spreading viral memes with the wrong advice. Can someone just bring back Brexit?
Anyway be productive we must, we need to keep this economy going! Things haven’t been perfect this week and I have struggled more than ever to focus on the task in hand, but when I have been feeling unproductive, I have used one of the tips below and it is sure to have put a spring in my step and help me get things done!
Whether you are a regular home worker or this is totally new to you, I hope these tried and tested tips help you be productive from home!
My Tried and Tested Tips for staying productive when working at home
You don’t need a perfect desk to be productive!
It’s very easy to spend the first week of working from home designing your new work area, complete with inspirational pictures, a perfectly laid out desk, matching pens and notebook and a brand new giant monitor, but really this is just a distraction from you getting the actual work done.
I have a lovely office and desk area, but about 70% of the time I don’t actually sit at it and find I am more productive from the sofa, from the kitchen table or right now… in the garden!
Switch it up, when you feel yourself getting distracted again, stretch your legs and move rooms (if you can).
I know not everyone has the luxury of different locations, but also I hope this shows you don’t need a perfect desk either, the kitchen table will work just fine!
The Pomodoro Method
This is my favourite for short focused attention on a task I really need to get my head around. The pomodoro method involves focusing solely on one task for 25 minutes. Turn off your phone, stop all notifications and focus on nothing but the task in hand.
After the 25 minutes is up give yourself a 5 minute break, stretch your legs, make a cup of tea and get ready to start again for another 25 minutes.
If you need an extra push then download the Forest App and set yourself a timer for 25 minutes. It starts growing a tree on your phone and if you access any social media or other apps the tree dies… nobody wants to kill a tree!
There are lots of other apps that have built in timers, or you can just set a timer on any alarm clock or your phone.
Set it… Ready… Go!
Take time off
Sounds counter intuitive, but honestly, when I am struggling to be productive with getting stuff done it’s time off that is the thing that really, truly, helps every time. As I write this, the Government advises we are allowed out for a walk once a day, use it!
Get some fresh air, clear the mind, watch a random tv show, read a book, bake a cake and come back afresh.
Find an accountability partner
One of the best things I’ve found for a bit of accountability on actually getting my work done, is having an accountability partner. Your accountability partner doesn’t need to do the same work as you, they don’t need to be a colleague or they don’t need to actually fully understand your work.
Your accountability partner just needs to be a friendly face or voice at end of a WhatsApp voice note or someone you can email with your weekly to do list.
My friend Kirsty from What Kirsty Did Next is my accountability partner and we leave each other almost daily voice notes with what we plan to achieve over the day, encourage each other through tricky needs, push each other to just Get It Done and offer advice where we can.
Our areas of work are quite similar, but not exactly the same and it’s great to have another person to share different work problems with and spur me on when I am having a less productive day ‘Jenny, focus on the task at hand and stop watching The Split’ says Kirsty!
Listen to an inspiring podcast or video
When I am really lacking motivation to get things done I listen to one of my favourite podcast or start a new business book to get inspired. I’m currently re-reading Carrie Green’s ‘Ctrl Alt Delete, Graham Allcott’s Beyond Busy and Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso. They all interview some amazing people and offer loads of inspiring information to help me with staying productive when working from home!
Set yourself an agenda
When I am really struggling I set myself an agenda for the day with set times for different tasks and including plenty of down time or space for fun activities. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself right now, it’s a tough time for everyone, so don’t over do it with the agenda, if you do it every day it can quickly become boring and less effective.
This was my agenda one day last week.
8.00 – 9.00am – Read in bed
9.00 – 9.45am – Shower and breakfast outside
9.45 – 10.00am – Emails
10.00 – 11.00am – Workshop prep
11.00 – 11.15am – Break
11.15 – 11.30am – Call client
11.30 – 12.30pm – Workshop prep
12.30 – 1.30pm – Lunch & read in sunshine
1.30 – 3.00pm – Client content work
3.00 – 3.30pm – Break
3.30 – 5.30pm – Client content work
5.30 – 8.00pm – Dinner and chill
8.00 – 9.00pm – Write Feel Good Do Good newsletter (sign up here)
9.00pm onwards – Read and bed
It worked really well, but when I tried it the next day the novelty had warn off. I’m going to try this once or twice a week for days I really need to stay focused and see how I go. Notice there was plenty of down time in the agenda, working flat out for 9 hours a day doesn’t make anyone productive!
So there you have my top tips for staying productive. There isn’t one size fits all and I find it important to switch up the tactics. A full week of Pomodoros isn’t going to work, but two or three one afternoon will ensure some solid focused time!
What tried and tested tips for staying productive when working from home do you have to share?
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