Working from home seems the dream right?
No commute, no dress code, and no-one micro managing you?
But have you ever had one of those days where you have absolutely nothing to show for your efforts, even though you were busy the whole time?
Or, you just can’t get yourself motivated to do much, instead, you allow yourself to get sucked into the hole that is social media.
I’ve been working from home since 2005 and over the years I’ve experimented with different things, to help increase my output.
After starting a family and having the little ones at home with me, I had to find some new strategies to increase my productivity when working from home.
When you work from home you have different types of distractions and interruptions than when you work in an office with other people.
There is always the urge to do a load of washing, or tidy up or finally clear out the bathroom cabinet. Working at home can get quite lonely too, especially if your work doesn’t require you to speak to people much,
So here’s the thing.
In my mind, the most important productivity hack for when you work from home is to have self-discipline. Without self-discipline, all the strategies and hacks in the world won’t help you!
Assuming the self-discipline is there, here is my list of productivity hacks when you work from home. Some of them might seem unconventional but hey, if it works, why not?
Productivity Hacks for when you work from home
1. Put some pants on
No matter how fun it sounds to go without pants, I promise you that by getting showered, dressed and putting on make-up (if you wear make-up of course) you will be more productive than if you just hang out in your pj’s all day.
At least brush your teeth and wash your face at a minimum!
Think of how high-performance athletes get themselves into a certain state before competing. By getting dressed like you are going to the office, albeit a casual Friday type outfit, you are in effect signaling your unconscious mind to switch to a state of “work mode”.
2. Your Most Important Tasks
I found that when I know what needs to happen tomorrow, it helps me be ready for the day. Does this give you any clues to the fact that I’m not big on surprises LOL!
So, at the end of this workday, I will decide what the 3 MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) for tomorrow is.
This way, my unconscious has some time during the night to process a few ideas around what I need to do. When I step into my office I don’t waste time thinking about what to today, instead, I can get started immediately.
I don’t always have 3 MIT’s, sometimes it is less. I find that having more than 3 overwhelms me and reduces my productivity. Instead, having 3 or
3. Batch your tasks
This is something that I’ve recently started experimenting with, and so far I’ve had good results.
Basically, you batch together similar tasks that require the same type of mindset or brain power to get them done more effectively.
Every time you switch tasks your brain experiences a bit of a delay (don’t worry about it, it’s a normal part of how our cognitive processes work!) By batching, you’re avoiding multitasking and, as a
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management technique which uses batching.
4. Get up earlier
I don’t necessarily think that by getting up at 5am every day of your life you will increase your productivity when you work from home.
Before I had kids, on those days that I did not run training sessions or workshops, I would get up between 7-8 after my husband had already left for his office. I had the whole day to do my work, and I scheduled my times around the slots when I saw my coaching clients.
Then I had kids. EVERYTHING changed!
After being a stay-at-home mom for a while I started building my coaching practice again. We had moved overseas from South Africa to Austria just before we started a family, and so I really had to start over with building up my business. I needed another business model though, as one-on-one coaching no longer fitted into my priorities and my lifestyle.
While going through this phase in my life I also discovered the following:
By the time I had the kids up, dressed, fed, noses wiped, out the door, dropped off at kindergarten and I was back home standing in a kitchen with milk stains and crumbs everywhere, my creativity and levels of inspiration were about -200.
These days, I get up before anyone else in the house. I do yoga every day as part of my self-care routine (I prefer this to meditation). After the yoga, I have about an hour to do some writing or brainstorm a few projects.
This way, no matter what the day holds for me, at least I get some work done guaranteed.
So really, it depends on your life whether you need to get up earlier, but for me, it created a huge change in my productivity levels.
5. Follow your natural rhythm
Our energy ebbs and flows during the day.
You might already know when is your most creative and productive time.
To ensure that you make the most of your productivity when you work from home, avoid doing household chores when your energy levels are high. Rather focus your energy on working on your business.
I am ready to roll as soon as I open my eyes. My husband, on the other hand, takes a while to fully wake up.
I’ve learned not to have a full-on conversation with him first thing in the morning because at the most I’ll get blank stares and grunts!
While I am a little workhorse in the morning, I get most of my creative inspiration at night. I am always scribbling something in my bullet journal or making notes on my phone.
It also means that I sometimes work late into the night on a project while my creative juices are flowing and that I can’t think the next day because I’m too tired!
If you are similar, I found it helps me to be very deliberate in how I create my day, instead of just following the same old routine day after day.
6. Create coping strategies that work for you
I’m not someone who functions well in chaos. I feel as if I can’t breathe when my environment is messy.
If you are anything like me, you’ll know that this is a huge challenge for your productivity when you work from home.
Imagine that you have 100% brain power available. Everything that distracts or bothers you, uses some of the brain power. Even simple things like seeing the light bulb that you keep forgetting to replace or the stuffed animal that you keep on stepping on when you go to the toilet.
Can you see that if you have too many distractions using up your brain power, it can severely reduce your productivity?
The way that I deal with this is by using a few simple strategy.
- If something will take me 2 minutes or less to do, I do it, like putting my coffee cup in the dishwasher.
- I have a container under the chair in the kitchen where all the toys that are lying around go into. At night, when the kids are having a bath or when I go to sleep, I take the container upstairs and empty it out.
- Certain days of the week are for certain household tasks. Knowing that I will vacuum on a certain day, helps me deal with the state of the floor right now and I can focus on my work instead.
- I never go to bed with a messy kitchen. Nothing breaks my heart as much as walking into a dirty kitchen first thing in the morning.
There are many more productivity hacks for when you work from home, but these are my favorites. I hope they help you and that they inspire you too.
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