But as Summer draws to an end and Autumn lingers in your future, you find yourself wondering (as we all do) how can I get even more out of my time?
Productivity is an ongoing challenge that everyone faces and working from home can make the challenge even tougher. We’re all comfortable at home and usually surrounded by distractions. You might have kids, you probably use the same computer for work that you do for personal use and all the things that you care about doing in your home are right in front of you on a daily basis.
If you want to maximize your productivity you need to have a system in place and you need to make and follow a fairly strict set of rules. It sucks I know, but there’s no feeling quite like feeling accomplished. What follows are some of the rules that I’ve made a part of my system, and the difference between my productivity when I’m following them compared to when I don’t is hugely noticeable.
Keep it Clean
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again and again because it’s rule #1 for me. A clean and clear work environment makes for clean and clear thinking. It’s almost bad enough that if I’m in a messy environment I can’t get anything done at all. Almost meaning that if my boss is chatting with me in all caps, things find a way to get done. =D
Eliminate the Distractions
You set up your office in part to keep your living space separate from your working space. If you haven’t, I pity you. For me this applies to distractions on my computer. It’s a rare day that I can truly be productive and have open things like my email, Facebook or Twitter. Even certain websites will keep me from doing work, which is why you must be disciplined to closing them at times.
When I sit down to do some serious work, everything gets close except for Skype, which I use solely for work and it stays open all the time when I am working and the websites or programs directly related to what I’m working on. Occasionally I’ll go completely offline, usually when I need to push out some writing that is particularly challenging and I’m having a lot of difficulty focusing.
Group Together Your Errands
Everyone needs to go out and get some errands done from time to time and they can be one of the more time consuming tasks that a work at homer runs into. If you aren’t thinking carefully it’s easy to overlook what you can accomplish in just one trip and end up having to make two or god forbid more trips out in one day. Sometimes this just can’t be avoided, i.e. a doctors appointment in the morning and a late lunch with a client but often times things can be grouped together.
I find it’s handy to keep a list of stuff that I know I’ll need to go out and get done, adding items as soon as I think of them. I keep it right near my desk so that whenever I’m about to sign off and head out, I can quickly scan the list and often add a couple quick stops to my trip that save me 15 minutes at a time. A small amount of time sure, but it adds up to hours over the course of a year. Hours that I can then designate to other tasks.
I’m an avid hiker, I’ve done 20 mile hiking trips in one day and one of the first things you learn is the importance of keeping your body fueled by eating. Make no mistake that while working at home you’re likely only sitting around typing, that you’re also putting your body and mind through some duress. It’s going to need fuel and not the crappy kind. I know plenty of people that will attest after a weekend of drinking and eating quite unhealthily that their Monday was terribly unproductive because they felt horrible.
A healthy body and mind will always be more productive so plan to start your days with something nutritious. My favorite? A delicious fruit smoothie, you only need to freeze some of your favorite fruits ahead of time and toss them in a blender with some water, yogurt and I like to add a hand full of fresh spinach for some raw greens (which by the way, you can’t taste all) to give me a great morning meal that will energize me into early evening.
So there you are, my four top tips for gaining productivity. Got some others that work for you? Let me know in the comments as I’m always looking to improve on my productivity as well. Thanks for reading!