So in the last post, we talked about how to make your home office into a place where you feel good and where it’s easy for you to work. Today I’ll share things that are essential for me regarding productivity.
Have a morning routine that leaves you energised and motivated.Over the years I developed a pretty long morning routine and it’s my favorite time of the day where I can focus on my personal development without any interruptions. It took me lots of experimentation, but currently, I feel that I found my ideal morning routine which is based on the book “The Miracle Morning”. Most of the mornings I drink lemon water and then meditate, do a short visualization, read my affirmations and yearly goal list, depending on time and my plan for the day I also try to read at least a few pages of a book and then I go for a run & listen to podcasts/audio books. Sometimes I do yoga at home or go to the gym instead of running, but running makes me feel the best and it has a huge effect on how I feel even if I run for only 15 minutes. These habits allow me to start my day grounded (meditation), inspired and focused on my goals (yearly goal list, visualization, and affirmations) and reading and running while I listen to audio books or podcasts allow me to feel energised, happy and at the same time make me grow because I’m also learning new information. If you don’t like mornings and never had a morning routine then, of course, you don’t have to start with many things at once. I would recommend starting with short daily exercises and podcast/audio books. It can be anything from 10 to 30 minutes, but you will feel the difference immediately.
Dress as you would dress when going for work. I know most of the people who think about starting to work from home dream about working from their laptop in bed and pyjamas, but the truth is that our minds are conditioned to associate certain behaviours to certain places/conditions. And your bed is definitely not associated with productivity 🙂 I found that I’m most productive if I dress just the way I would when I go to meet a client or when I go to photograph on location. I even wear jewelry, perfume and (sometimes) make-up. In this way your mind is conditioned that now it’s time to work, even though you are at home.
Eat healthy, nutritious food. You don’t have to go to nearest kebab place or Chinese restaurant for lunch break when you work from home 🙂 When you do your shopping get some healthy snacks like nuts and fruits, have lemon water (in general plenty of water) or healthy and tasty green smoothies for quick snacks. When I can I try to plan my lunch in advance or make something in the morning that I can heat for lunch, so that I wouldn’t be in a hurry, but would still have proper food for lunch break.
Music. Use music to your advantage- it’s your home office and you can listen to whatever you like. Personally, I recommend having different playlists on Spotify for different moods/tasks (from classical to energising music) and I also use and love the app called Noisly– it’s designed to increase your productivity and it’s very customizable, plus it’s free and it really increases your focus. This is what I listen to if I need to focus on long tasks like image editing.
Google calendar. As my mentor Marie Forleo says- “if it’s not scheduled- it’s not real” 🙂 You can use different calendar apps, not necessarily Google calendar, but the main thing is that you need to have a system to see the overview of your current projects, meetings, travel dates etc. Plus it’s very useful to have the same calendar on your computer, iphone and ipad (for ipad I use an app called Calendars which syncs with Google Calendar). You can also add reminders there, so you can be sure that you won’t miss anything and you can focus on the task at hand without worrying about millions of other tasks that you would otherwise keep in your head.
Use a “to-do list” or productivity management app. Similarly to a previous point, the goal is to keep your mind empty and focused on what you’re doing now and have everything else written and scheduled on paper/in a productivity app. For many years, I was a fan of writing things down on paper, and I still do, but now I’m also experimenting with productivity app called Nozbe, which so far seems to be a perfect solution. Not only do I have my to-do lists there as I used to have on my paper notebook, but I also have them arranged by projects, deadlines, contexts (let’s say all tasks related to blogging or to email writing) and I get a notification when the deadline is near and it syncs with my Google Calendar. Plus you can add notes/links/files as attachments to your projects, making it really easy to find everything that you need.
Use Pomodoro technique. While the name is funny, the technique itself is really powerful AND simple. Pomodoro technique teaches you to work in time blocks of 25 minutes, then have a 5 minutes break and work for another 25 minutes period and after 4 of these take a longer break. Sounds simple, yes? But I encourage you to give it a try and see how much you can get done in 25 minutes of uninterrupted, focused work. Use the 5 minutes break for exercises or stretching, drinking water, short dance break or to take few deep breaths outside. Nowadays when we have such an information overload it’s easy to get distracted and loose your focus, but this technique allows you to get things done with ease and simplicity. You choose a task and set the timer and you do only this task for this “pomodoro” (the 25 minutes period). Because 25 minutes is such a short period of time it’s easy to convince your mind to focus for “just these 25 minutes”, but when you add them and when you work focused you can do A LOT in this way. You can buy a real, physical timer for that or use one of the many apps. I like to use Pomodoro Time app. Previously mentioned Noisly app also has a timer function.
Batch tasks. It’s difficult to focus deeply when we switch from one task to the other, so it’s much more productive to do similar tasks in one go- all emails, all phone calls, blog posts etc.
Turn off anything you don’t need to use to get the work done. Countless tabs on your browser, social media sites and their notifications, even email if it’s distracting to you. Apps like Self Control are handy for that! I also love using News Feed Eradicator– it allows me to access my messages and notifications on Facebook, so I still communicate with people I want to communicate with, but I can’t see my news feed at all. Saves so much time and removes all the aimless scrolling!
So, these are my main tips and I now would love to hear from you- what do you use to increase your productivity? Remember that working from home and being your own boss can be either a very difficult experience or a wonderful one, everything depends on your choices and habits!