With no senior staff member present to keep an eye on you, and no work based culture to push you forward, it can be easy to procrastinate when you work from home. If you’re working for yourself and you struggle to concentrate, this can be a real issue. If you don’t work, you won’t get paid. If you’re employed by someone else it can be equally as problematic, because you still have a job to do even when you’re working away from the office.
To help, we’ve pulled together these easy productivity hacks, to get you through your to-do list when you’re working from the sofa.
Set out your to-do list first thing
You probably have a good idea of what it is that you need to achieve on any given day. Write it down somewhere, starting with the most important task and ending with the least. Once you’ve done this, you need to schedule in time to work on each of the tasks and then stick to that schedule. Scheduling gives structure to your workload and forces you to work with time constraints. Confinements are proven to encourage people to let go of menial tasks and focus on what matters. You can either start with your hardest task and get it out of the way or begin with your easiest task and build up some momentum. Both methods are effective as long as you stick to the schedule.
Turn everything off
You’re only human; you’re likely to be easily distracted. It’s easier to float off into non-work life when there are no colleagues there to remind you of what you are supposed to be doing. Once you have your schedule in place, it’s vital that you stick to it. Part of doing that involves turning off everything that might pull you away from your work. Put your phone on silent, turn off your social media notifications and switch off your emails. You can have a quick peek at scheduled intervals to make sure that nothing urgent has happened. Your job is not to spend all day replying to people, it’s to do some actual work, so don’t fall into the trap of being so easily contactable that you don’t get half of what you needed to do done.
Make things difficult when you need to
If you have a habit of doing something that you shouldn’t be doing during work hours, then a good way to break the habit is to make it difficult to do. If you’re a TV addict, then make sure you’re working in a room where there is no television to avoid temptation. If you’re a sucker for social media, then log yourself out of everything so you don’t find yourself aimlessly scrolling for hours on end. Be strict with yourself if you’re serious about getting stuff done
Arrange your tasks by importance as soon as they appear
Leaving things for later can sometimes lead to forgetting. It’s best to note down tasks that need to be completed as soon as they come in. Tagging them with some scale of importance, such as red pen for urgent tasks and blue for non-urgent, can also help you skim across your workload and determine what needs to be done when. The general rule for quick wins is that if it is going to take you less than two minutes to do (replying to an email, checking some statistics), then you should do it right away. Everything else needs to go on the schedule and stay there until complete.
Get up, get dressed and go to your designated work area
Tempted to work in your pajamas? Don’t. Psychologically it’s imperative that you dress appropriately and that you have a clean and tidy designated workspace for working hours. Your mind needs to be in the right place. If you’re in your PJs on the sofa, your brain is going to associate working hours with it being almost time to go to sleep. Have you ever tried to work just before bed? It’s exhausting! It certainly is not the mental frame of mind you need to be in for eight hours while you work. Plus, research has shown that participants who dress smartly for work feel more authoritative, trustworthy and competent; all very important ways to feel when you’re hard at work, even if you’re completing that work from the comfort of your living room.