Working from home? These productivity hacks will get you accomplishing more in less time.
Have you ever found yourself wishing there were more hours in a day? Unfortunately, time cannot be controlled by us but what we can control is our productivity.
In this blog post I'm going to cover the best ways to improve your productivity and get more sh*t done.
12 proven productivity hacks
It pays to be a morning person. There are countless studies that correlate waking up early to productivity and success. Set your alarm one hour earlier than using and stop hitting the snooze button again and again.
Waking up earlier will allow you to get an extra hour of work done. Staying up an extra hour to work isn't the same thing. You can cash in on the extra hour at the start of your workday, not at the end of it.
Before heading to the office, take a couple of minutes to breathe and meditate.
Meditation clears and recharges your mind, preparing you for the challenges of the day.
Make a daily list of tasks to complete every day. Keep it simple and realistic. It must not be massive jobs that will take hours to finish.
You need something to help you prioritize your to-do's for the day and keep you on track.
It's best to get done with your hardest tasks first, which will free up your day to complete the rest of your tasks.
Not only are you going to feel better getting the worst task done, but you'll also be more productive the rest of the day too.
Getting to work and seeing a mountain of 50 unread emails cluttering your inbox is unnerving.
Keep your inbox as tidy as possible by deleting, archiving, and replying to email. Don't look at an email twice, take care of it the first time and move on to the next one.
People are going to pull you every which way, asking you to pick up their dry cleaning or take on an additional task at work.
But even though that two letter word can be hard to say sometimes, you need to learn that it's okay to say no.
Create a clean workspace in order to help you avoid distractions. Clear off your desk, it'll allow you to better focus on your work.
Social media is one big distraction after another. You probably stare at a screen all day at work so it's probably not a good idea to use your eyesight even more to look at social media.
Don't be the master of multitasking. You'll end up doing a lot of things - badly. Even though you think you can do two things at once, you can't.
Your brain can only do one thing at a time, and switching back and forth between tasks affects your productivity.
The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Are you getting enough sleep? If not, your productivity will suffer.
You might think headphones are a distraction, but au contraire, when people see you with headphones on, they are less likely to bother you.
Whether you choose to listen to music while you work is up to you.
One of the most time consuming tasks you'll find during your day is making decisions.
Certain decisions require you to think for a while, but think about this for a second: Is a decision you reach in the first minute the same that you'd reach in 15 minutes? Probably.
So don't overthink it and accelerate your decision making.
One of the keys to good productivity is taking action - without delay. But this can be easier said than done. Here are some tips on how to break free from procrastination.
5 ways to break free from procrastination
Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today? It seems like a pretty easy question to answer, yet many people find themselves putting off tasks for days and weeks on end.
Procrastination is an issue that a lot of people have to deal with, and while it can be somewhat glossed over in trivial details, it is something that can hurt you at work.
Leaving large projects to the last minute often means that the work delivered is not as good as it should be.
Deliver that sort of work on a regular basis and the next thing you may be procrastinating about is searching for a new job.
Here are 5 ways to break free from procrastination and become more productive:
Why do you procrastinate? Ask people who have made a habit of doing it and you will get a number of different answers.
For some, it all comes down to self-doubt, while others will claim to be perfectionists who need everything to be just right before they begin.
Once you are able to answer the question about why you procrastinate, you will then be able to take the steps to stop behaving that way.
For most of us, actually getting started proves to be the toughest part of any project.
How many times have you dreaded the thought of doing something, only to find out that is wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be once you get started?
The more you think about the actual start of the project, the more ominous it seems.
Decide that you are going to start today, set a timer for 10 minutes, and as soon as that alarm goes off, jump right into your work. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start rolling once you get started.
Take a moment to think about a project that you recently completed, and then think about how good it felt once you completed it.
We all spend time focusing on the negative aspects of the work that needs to be done, which is why it becomes easier to put it off till tomorrow.
Instead of thinking negatively, always envision how good you will feel when the project is done. Trust us, you will want to speed towards that good vibe.
Even if you are committed to a large project, there are going to be times when you feel bogged down or uninspired.
This can lead to a stall in productivity that can begin to stretch into hours and then days. Before everything starts to stagnate, think about ways you can make that task fun.
Put on some music, or maybe take your laptop to the park or a coffee shop, or anywhere that isn’t your office. A little fun can lead to a lot of inspiration.
We all become inspired to do better when we are held to some level of accountability.
Enlist the help of a friend or family member when a project needs to be done. Tell then when you are going to begin, and when you plan on finishing. Have them check in on your progress at regular intervals.
Trust me, the shame you will feel at not being where you said you would be at a given time can act as a great motivator.
So, now we are productive and we don't procrastinate. Next, let's focus on being efficient with the time we do have.
5 proven ways to improve your efficiency
Being productive means doing more with less, faster yet still correctly. In this post I’ll discuss how to be more efficient in order to squeeze the most out of your day.
Here are the 5 main segments of your life to focus on:
Managing your time is essential for improving your productivity. If you think multitasking is the answer, think again.
Even though you claim to be the master of multitasking, you’re not. It’s been proven that you can’t do two things at once.
The brain is not like a quad-core processor. It performs tasks one at a time.
Sure you can drive while adjusting the radio dial, but while you’re thinking about your selection you’re not thinking about the road!
The appropriate way to manage your time efficiently is to minimize tasks that distract you. Yes, that means shutting off notifications when you’re working.
Plan your day in sections. Start it off with email, news and social media to get caught up on what you missed overnight.
Then shut off alerts and concentrate on the most important tasks of your day.
Throughout your day it’s okay to take breaks and even a power nap. What’s imperative is that you work efficiently with a laser focus on the task at hand.
Your workstation needs to be free from clutter. A white empty area eliminates all distractions, allowing you to see only what you’re working on.
If you work from home, create a new user account on your computer dedicated to work. Having a work bookmarks folder is not enough.
On your browser, create an account with your work email so that you are logged into a browser which only has work related bookmarks and plugins.
Turn off email notifications. Every time there’s an alert you’ll be tempted to stop what you’re doing to check it.
More often than not it’s a newsletter or something not important. Yet this stops your flow and messes with your concentration.
Running a marathon is a daunting task, but while you’re running in one, what matters is just the next mile, just the next step.
Likewise, break your bigger tasks into smaller chunks. Doing this reduces procrastination as we’re more likely to avoid doing large tasks.
Checklists are useful for keeping you on track. Utilize checklists to allow you to see that you are making progress with your bigger tasks.
Use an app to create your checklists and check off each small task after you complete it. Seeing the box checked, the ding noise or the striked-through text triggers the rewards portion of our brain.
I use and recommend Meistertask and use it as my to-do list app, content calendar and more.
Does office space increase productivity?
When you started your small freelancing side hustle it was a necessity to work from home. It was cost-effective. After all, you’re already living there and paying rent or a mortgage.
So, you simply designate a space for work and you’re all set. Simple, right?
But what if your freelance business is beginning to take off? What if you’re no longer some small fry trying to make it big? What if renting an office is within your budget??
Should you spring a few hundred dollars per month to lease office space?
While the decision is a personal one that’s entirely up to you, I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why having an office space can benefit you.
The number one reason to get an office outside of your house is to improve your productivity.
This point alone can justify the added expense.
Maybe you have small children who need your attention throughout the day.
Maybe you have a difficult time working in a messy cluttered house.
Or perhaps you just can’t work efficiently with distractions like city noise, the radio or the television on.
Then there’s the refrigerator that is always just one room away, tempting you to pause working to find a snack.
Getting out of the house can help you avoid all those distractions so you can concentrate on what matters and get more work done.
First impressions mean a lot. If your job requires you to meet clients in person, you need to have a real office.
If your side gig is a website designer, marketing agency or consultant of some kind, you might need to schedule an appointment every now and then.
Having an office space gives you the businesslike impression you need to make a positive impression.
If you meet a client at a coffee shop, at their own home or business, or at your home, it doesn’t give the appearance of a professional person who they can trust with their money.
What you need is the added credibility of physical office space, which may lead to you attracting more clients.
When you run a small business your address will be splashed everywhere. Much like your email should be from your domain name rather than gmail or yahoo, your address should also be professional.
If you have a newsletter for your blog, your physical address should be in every email.
If you have a “contact me” section you may also include an address as well.
If you have business cards, your address should be on them.
Your domain registration information is public, unless you pay to hide it.
You really don’t want to publish your home address anywhere publicly. That’s where getting an office comes into play.
An office space gives you a real address, which is much better than a PO Box. Would you trust a website with no address or a PO Box? But seeing an address with a suite number lets you know you’re dealing with a person who takes their business seriously.
Some office spaces are fully equipped to handle your growing freelance business.
Some have large shared conference rooms with video teleconferencing capabilities. You simply need to schedule to have the room to yourself ahead of time.
If you think having office space leaves a good impression, imagine how having a conference room makes a client feel.
There’s another added benefit to renting out office space. You may also benefit from a super fast internet connection that you can’t get at home.
Ever heard of that old adage: you have to spend money to make money??
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your dream office. All you’re looking for is a small room so you can get work done.
Plus, that money paid plus any other office-related expenses are fully tax deductible.
By dishing out a few hundred dollars per month, you’ll force yourself to work hard. You’ll realize you’re spending money so you will definitely want to take advantage of the time you spend there.
Being in an office with a desk, a computer, a filing cabinet and no distractions can really do a lot to put you in the right frame of mind.
Then, when you head home, you can concentrate on your family life and leave work behind as much as possible.
6 ways to build better productivity habits
I'm a big believer in good habits being a solid foundation to building a successful life. If you can add as many good habits as possible in different areas of your life you will in time be repaid by seeing your intended results.
If you are looking to make a passive income with a side hustle, you'll need to ensure you always make the most of your time.
Good habits can be easy to introduce into our lives but how can we make them stick so we can really make the most of our time?
Here are 6 techniques to introduce good habits into your life.
It can be difficult to fill your life with new habits, especially when you’re full of so many bad ones. But there’s a way to mitigate that difficulty.
Choose something new and do it for just 5 minutes, every day. 5 minutes is easy. Anybody can do it. You can do it.
Here are some good habits you can employ that can only take 5 minutes of your day.
- You could meditate for 5 minutes per day. Use a meditation app on your smartphone.
- How about going for a quick 5 minute walk around the block every day.
- Drink a full glass of water at a predetermined time every single day.
It is said that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. So do it every day and before you know it, you’ll be doing these tasks daily without even thinking about it.
Are you looking to bring various habits into your life but you keep putting them off? Perhaps hey seem to be far too time consuming?
Well, good habits are worth your time – especially when they replace bad ones.
A good way to decide if a new habit is worth the time and effort is to time yourself.
Let’s say you want to start eating healthy snacks but worry it’ll take up too much of your time.
Well then get your timer on your smartphone out and start timing yourself. Wash and cut up some fruits and veggies and put them into 7 individual containers to be consumed during the week.
Let’s say this whole process took you 15 minutes.
Each day, you get a good healthy snack at your fingertips that takes literally no time to make (since you already made them of course). The end result is you eat better, feel better and you’ll have no excuses not to eat healthy.
This technique is based on how a solar flare acts. Basically a solar flare starts off very small and then over time it grows into something huge. Can you put a similar thought pattern into making your good habits stick?
Perhaps commit a few minutes to a task in the first week and commit more time as the month continues if you’re getting good results.
Start small and build up blocks is the idea. For instance if you feel like you would like to take up walking to introduce some exercise in to your life, then start by just walking around the block at first.
Then, build up the distance over time and before you know it, by the end of the month you could be walking for a few miles each session.
Success stories aren’t made overnight. Marathon runners didn’t start by running marathons. They started by taking small steps and working their way up over time.
The Pomodoro technique can be great for seeing tasks right through to the end and really making habits stick. The Pomodoro technique is where you work on your task for a set amount of time and give yourself a break for an allotted amount of time.
The most commonly suggested way of using this technique is by working on something for 25 minutes and then stopping for 5 minutes. This allows you a break so your brain doesn’t get overloaded.
By knowing that you have a dedicated time slot coming up that you are free to do as you wish makes it far easier to put a big burst of energy into the habit or task you’re doing.
This is a great technique to try to understand more about yourself. What is stopping you from actually making start on the task ahead or the good habit that you wish to develop?
Sometimes you just have to stop and think in order to come up with a solution.
What are your excuses? How can you fix it?
If you don’t look at your bad habits (and lack of good habits) in a realistic manner you won’t be able to affect change.
A habit tracker app serves as a reminder about what you should be doing and also confirms how much you have actually achieved.
Apps can be great to use to help track your progress, keep you on your toes and ensure that you make the habit stick.
You have now set yourself a target to reach by a chosen date. A deadline can put pressure on us but at the same time we tend to act better if we know that we have to complete a task by a certain day.
5 hacks for improving your productivity working at home
The 9-to-5 crowd thinks it’s a dream come true to work from home. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Sure, working at home has its advantages. You have the freedom to wake up whenever you want, dress however you want and set your own work hours.
Yet on the other hand, distractions are plentiful when you work at home and it takes real discipline to actually get things done.
When you work from home there’s no boss to stop you from checking your Facebook every 5 minutes. There’s nobody to yell at you for watching daytime television for hours on end. There’s no one to get on your case for having a 2 hour lunch break.
This freedom may sound nice, but when you own your own business it’s a recipe for disaster. Work-at-home freelancers aren’t paid by the hour, they’re paid on commission.
Everyone shares the same 24 hours a day, however it seems that some of us are able to accomplish so much more than others. It’s all about time management, removing distractions and being more efficient with our time.
If you’re finding it difficult to focus at home, follow these 5 tips to maximize your work-at-home productivity.
If the living room is where you watch TV and also where you work, then it’s hard to actually work when you’re in that space.
Every worker needs his or her own place under the sun. Those who say they can work anywhere are telling a lie. Because even if they can indeed work, their productivity level is sure to go down.
When working at home, investing in a comfortable home office is highly recommended. Treat this room as a real office.
That means no television, doors closed and yes that means no unauthorized people allowed.
There really isn’t a structure when you work from home. This type of flexibility is dangerous to those who lack discipline.
Creating a schedule, or a set of goals for the day, helps provide the structure you need to be productive
Create a to-do list every day and set out to accomplish each item on the list. Then check each item off your task list as you go along.
The pleasure of completing a task will only help motivate you to complete the next item too.
Clutter will cost you a lot of time. It’s also not good for your mind. Having a messy office doesn’t lend to being disciplined and productive.
When you have a neat office space it exudes professionalism and will make you want to stay at the top of your game when you sit down to work.
Organization isn’t just putting the pens in the correct drawer, it applies to your hard drive as well.
Organize your work, create folders and sub-folders. Rename items so you can find them again easily. Don’t just save everything on the desktop as Untitled 1, Untitled 2, etc.
Remove anything that can distract you in your home office. If there are things that can veer your attention away from your daily goals then do away with them.
Often times distractions happen right on the very computers we’re using to work. Whether it be a Skype call coming through or a Facebook message or new email, it’s important to stay focused on work.
So log out of your personal accounts so you won’t be bombarded with any distractions while you’re “at work”.
It’s difficult to work all day and night. The more hours you work (or try to) the less productive you will be. True productivity occurs when the mind and body are able to perform at their best.
Set two 15 minute break times and one lunch hour every day. Use your 15-minute breaks to enjoy a cup of coffee or go out to walk your dog. Lunch hours may be spent with your family.
Never eat in the office or stay inside for 8+ hours straight. Doing so is not healthy nor will it lead to improved productivity.
How to get more work done by doing less
Even though everyone has the same amount of time each day it seems like some entrepreneurs are able to get more done than others. Are these people just working smarter and harder than the others?
While it’s true that working smart is just as important as working hard there are too many people out there who just work hard because they aren’t sure how to work smart.
Here’s 5 ways to get more done by working less.
There’s plenty of tools and technology out there that you can be using to automate some aspects of your life and business. There’s bound to be at least one thing you do that can be automated to save you time.
How much of what you do in a day could be automated? Perhaps you get a lot of emails and they can be answered with a pre-written response.
You can do that with GMail. From within GMail go to Settings > Advanced > Canned Responses (Templates) to enable the feature.
There’s tons of ways to integrate apps you already use to help you save time. My favorite one is having a new blog post automatically shared with all of my social media channels.
They say that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. This is simply not true. You just have to know what to outsource and what needs to be done in-house.
One major problem underperforming entrepreneurs have is understanding what they can outsource and how they can do it efficiently.
You should also give a VA a try if you’ve thought about outsourcing your work.
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) could be a great way to keep your business running smoothly and give yourself more time to get things done. Think about how much time and money you lose doing the same boring and repetitive tasks.
As long as you can clearly tell the VA what you need and what you expect you’ll have no trouble finding a good one.
If you want to get more done then you actually need to do less. It sounds crazy but you need to be working on as few things at a time as you can.
Steve Jobs gave an excellent explanation of this when he took the 350 projects Apple was doing and cut it down to 10. He said that people assume that focusing is about saying yes while really it’s about saying no.
You need to turn down more things than you say yes to. You need to be careful and deliberate about which projects you take on. It’s best to focus on only one thing at once.
Have one big goal or one big thing that needs to be done and focus on doing just that one thing today.
You should make good use of the team or partners that you have. There’s nothing wrong with delegating work to your team if you have to.
Underperforming entrepreneurs have this idea that they have to do absolutely everything. But that’s just not true. An entrepreneur is the person in charge, much like a conductor is in charge of the orchestra.
Assemble your team and delegate tasks. Then it’s your job to oversee and ensure the right people are working on the right task. That means you need to find someone with the skills to match the job that you need them to do.
You can start delegating smaller tasks until you understand their capabilities and have confidence in their abilities. Pretty soon you’ll be giving them full tasks to do and you’ll have a lot more time.
You can keep track of your teams’ progress by having everyone use Meistertask. From this app you can assign tasks and keep track of everyones’ progress, including your own.
While it’s true that productivity depends on momentum there are entrepreneurs that rely too heavily on momentum to get things done and they end up burning out. Sometimes when you try to do more you can burn and do less.
It’s important that you schedule breaks into your routine. You’ll find that breaks don’t cause a break in momentum and actually allow you to keep it for longer without burning out and losing your focus when you need it most.
Using a technique such as a Pomodoro Timer let you take regular breaks without needing to make the conscious effort to think about taking a break or make yourself take one.
Wrapping it up
If you work from home, how do you manage to stay productive? If you have any tips to share, let us know in the comments section below.