9 Productivity hacks for working from home
“Time is money, and yet 90% of the people fail to cash on it”.
While you are scrolling down your social media feeds, you sure love taking a sneak peek on who’s doing what and what’s happening around you. But, don’t you secretly wish to spend your time meaningfully?
A huge number of people are working from home these days. While there are a great many advantages to working from home, the biggest challenge is to stay productive.
It indeed is a challenge because our homes don’t have the atmosphere the same as the offices. You are not working in a zone where everyone around you is wagging their hands around to be as active as they can be.
You are, most probably, surrounded by people who are either watching television, sleeping in a cosy bed or eating favourite meals.
But, wait. The non-office atmosphere isn’t the only reason people working from home fail to be productive. Here’s a lot more you need to know.
Why people working from home fail to be productive?
Let’s accept the truth. Productivity is not a mantra you magically learn. Our brain has a lot to do with how we function throughout the day. It’s the primitive parts of our brains that decide whether a person should procrastinate or make the most of the time they have.
1. Your brain’s Do-or-Die response
With a very personal experience, I can say that home workers tend to procrastinate things until it’s a do-or-die situation. Ever wondered why?
- Our brain is schemed to responding actively to life-threatening situations.
- This way, it ensures that we are capable of saving ourselves from troublesome situations.
- Our brain creates stress and anxiety when we're about to miss the deadline (or get into a do-or-die situation).
This do-or-die response is otherwise inactive because we know we still have time to make the final submission or answering the email.
And, this is the deadliest disadvantages that keep a person from focusing on their work.
2. Your brain’s greed
We are all greedy, and the same goes for all our brains too. I say this with conviction because our brains have two parts:
- Part one is greedy about getting quick rewards
- Part two prefers long-term benefits.
These two parts make huge differences in our lives. And honestly, these are the parts that separate winners from losers.
For example, successful people have a tendency to not give in to greed of quick rewards and instead work their way to long-term consequences.
Let me explain with an example. You are sitting in front of your computer but your brain reminds you of a quick reward: the Netflix show that’s airing, the final episode of Game of Thrones, unhealthy snacking, or scrolling down the Instagram feeds.
Most of us cave-in to these greedy signals and don’t even care about the long-term benefits of staying productive.
3. Your brain saves energy
Our brain prefers to spend energy on the things that really matter. This is especially true if you’ve never tried to change your habits: You are used to staying in bed hours after you’ve woken up or sitting lazily in the hammock. And this is the main reason why humans procrastinate.
- Human brain has a tendency to stay inactive.
- It always finds the easiest way out and adjusts to the habits you are used to.
We procrastinate to stay on the energy conservation mode, which by the way, may sound environmentally friendly but is actually an unhealthy habit.
Here’s what you can do: 9-Step technique
As much as our brain is the master source for regulating how we function, it’s also a part of a body that can be manipulated with some effort.
There are easy ways to change our habits, control greed, and make the most of our life. Below is the eleven-step solution for everyone who’s working from home and trying to be productive:
Step 1: Find the time when you are most productive
‘‘As soon as the sun sets, I feel the wheels of my mind switching off and I want nothing but to be in bed. However, I find myself most active after the sun rises.’’
That’s me. How about you? I am dead sure there’s a time slot when you can literally be the best version of yourself. This time slot doesn’t have to be the ungodly hour like 4:30 a.m. or post-midnight. It can be anything depending on your routine.
- The most important secret to working from home is finding the time slot when you are most active, aka most productive. This is the time when you do a lot of quality work.
- If you are not sure about your ‘most productive time,’ start observing when you have the most amount of concentration and energy, and when you have the tendency to get distracted and become lazy.
Believe me, it’s not a tough code to crack. You can find the answers in a matter of two days.
Step 2: Find the perfect workspace
Remember how I mentioned the biggest challenge of staying productive when you are working from home?
Majority of work from home employees work among people who are either watching television, sleeping in a cosy bed or eating favourite meals. So, we can blame our surroundings too.
There’s a straightforward solution for this:
- Create a working space in your home. This space doesn’t have to be huge.
- You can work in a small corner with your laptop, files, and a desk. If it’s summer, it can be a garden too.
- Your workspace should have proper lightening, right colouring, and it should have all the items you may need during work.
- Be far away from the television, noisy kids, Netflix, and delicious snack vying for your attention.
The purpose of this space is to cut off from everything that can distract you from concentrating on the work.
Step 3: Keep a Schedule for work and be consistent
How many times have you created a time table for work? Probably 100?
How many times did you stick to it for as long as a month? Without s doubt, 0.
Creating a schedule and not sticking to it is nothing but a self-defeating strategy. I am not going to rant on why it’s important because I am sure that is something you’d be reading for the billionth time.
- If you cannot manage to schedule your whole day, start with scheduling your work hours.
- Fix the work time. Start and end work at a specific time.
- It doesn’t have to be the traditional 9 am to 5 pm slot, because that sucks.
As I said in the first step about finding the hours when you are most productive-you can create work hours around that time.
Take breaks in the middle but make sure you get back to work after the break-time is over. Because as a home worker, you never know how the 10-minute break session stretches in 2-hours.
Step 4: Social Media Check-out time
Since you are working from home, chances are your boss or employer sends emails and task updates for you to review. So, I can’t ask you to deactivate your social media handles because a) your job demands that, and b) who am I kidding?
Here’s what you can do instead:
- Schedule specific time for checking emails, sending replies, and scrolling through your social media feeds.
- But remember, the check-in time should be followed with check-out time too.
- Don’t get stuck on someone’s profile because you've got to get back to work.
I suggest using the timer for check-out because diving into other people’s lives through a mobile phone can be an immersive experience. Isn’t that so?
Step 5: Schedule the meetings
Similar to the time you’ve dedicated to social media, you can dedicate time for the business meetings with your clients.
- Scheduling the meetings might seem counterintuitive for people working from home, but it is an efficient way of building a process.
- Instead of going over and over on a discussion via emails, it’s better to schedule a Skype meeting or a phone call.
This will save you from checking your phone once every two minutes and killing time in that process.
Step 6: Keyword Shortcuts to save time
If you work on the computer and your job involves typing, it’s high time you learn the keyboard shortcuts.
- There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts and they can be a great asset for saving time, and improving your work posture.
- Keyboard shortcuts not only increase productivity but also prevent your fingers from strain associated with repetitive strain injury.
Depending on the operating system in your computer, learn all the keyboard shortcuts and save a great deal of your time.
Step 7: Have a To-Do list
Once you know how great of a virtual assistant to-do lists can be, you’ll never stop using it for managing your work and time.
- There are a bunch of free to do apps that let you create to-dos, set reminders, and make your life easy.
- If you cannot do it on the phone, just keep a notebook or a diary where you can keep a tab of what’s next and what has been done.
To-dos are the best ways of managing your tasks and staying productive.
Step 8: Create an "I'll get to that later" document
Have you ever come across something while doing some other thing, and decided that you’ll get to it later? I bet a hundred times. I can also bet that half these things are something you never get back to because you are always busing with managing what’s important at that hour.
I suggest creating an “I'll get to that later" file to:
- Pen down all the thoughts, ideas, and questions you come across during the day.
- Review this document once a week to check the progress on your postponed tasks and get those done as per your schedule.
Step 9: The Pomodoro technique
There’s a reason why this is the best productivity technique ever.
- This time management technique encourages people to work with the time they have.
- You break the work hours into chunks of 25-minutes separated by breaks of 5-minutes.
- And once you’ve completed four Pomodoro of 25-minutes, you can take a long break of 20 to 30 minutes.
These are many similar techniques but nothing beats Pomodoro because the time slots are as practical as us humans can be.
I am sure you noticed how most of the steps mentioned here came down to simple things. Truth is, managing time and staying require simple but consistent steps.
It can be really easy if you follow these steps every day and a real pain in the neck if you get back to being the ‘productive superhero’ once a leap year.
I Suggest starting with small tweaks and winding your way to streamlining the workflow with the Pomodoro technique.