Let’s face it, while working from home can have its perks, it often provides us with a number of reasons not to get our work done. It’s like being stuck on a line between two worlds: in one world you have a boss who expects you to meet deadlines and show up to meetings, and in the other there is a pile of laundry that has sat unfolded for two weeks and there are a plethora of mind-numbing shows begging to be streamed.
In this new world, where some of us are eventually returning to work, others are stuck in the “home office” indefinitely, and others are trapped in some sort of halfsies situation, we can find our level of productivity quite low.
So, what are some super simple #lifehack ways to boost that productivity, you ask?
#1 Stop it with the “background noise.”
I’m all for throwing on The Office (which I’ve seen about 10,000 times and know word-for-word) and pretending like I’m working while the episodes play on. However, despite how many times you have watched a show, or listened to an album, you are far more likely to get distracted by it at some point or another.
For instance, with The Office, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen Jim and Pam get married at Niagara Falls, I’m definitely dropping what I’m doing to watch as Andy hobbles down the aisle during that montage.
In this article from eLife Sciences, it is clear that when background noise is involved our brains are forced to try and balance between what we need to focus on and what we are attracted to (2020).
In order to promote productivity, we have to minimize the distractions (obviously), starting with noise. A quiet environment allows us to focus solely on the task at hand, and thus get more done.
#2 Have an actual plan and write it down.
I’m a big list person. I always have scraps of paper lying around with lists involving this or that.
Lists help us in a number of ways.
First, they help us to know what to do when we’ve completed a task. That way we don’t finish one thing and mentally wander onto whatever the wind blows our way next. Instead, we have a structure and we have set expectations for ourselves.
Second, having a list makes it much more likely that all of the things that need to get done actually get done. It’s easy to make a “mental note” about something and expect ourselves to remember it all at the end of the day. But, that doesn’t always happen. A lot can happen in a very short amount of time, but if an item is written on the list, it’s there forever (hypothetically, anyways).
#3 Make a schedule and stick to it.
Caveating on the whole idea of “structure” in #2, a set schedule builds productivity because you know there is a specific time set apart for these particular tasks. It’s not a year-long pajama party at home where you gain 20 pounds and do work “if and when you feel like it.”
Building a schedule also allows you to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. If you work a 9-5, you know that the end of the day is coming and there’s time off to look forward to.
#4 Separate work and life.
This might be the most difficult thing to do when you work from home, but it is also one of the most essential to keeping both productivity and sanity.
Put simply, no one would willingly choose to live, work, eat, and sleep in their cubicle in some office building somewhere. I think we can all admit that sounds less than ideal.
We can apply the same thinking to working from home.
Even if you’re living in a one bedroom apartment and you work from your dining room table or kitchen counter, being able to put the office away at the end of the day and move on to brighter things brings a sense of home back into your home. You are no longer at the office, you are in the comfort of your own home where you can relax and do as you please.
#5 Set yourself up for the next day.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to kill yourself trying to get ahead on the next day’s tasks, but setting up simple things like your to-do list for the next day or laying out your nice top and sweatpants for your virtual meeting tomorrow.
This gives you a game plan for the day ahead and allows you to have a less stressful morning. Think of the top one or two things that could make your morning a tiny bit easier and take five minutes to do those things the night before.
What have you been doing to boost your productivity while working from home?