“I’ll just…”: the two most dangerous words we can tell ourselves (and really, let us be honest; a flat-out lie) as we begin our workday at home, given what typically follows is an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of Instagram, mashable.com, cleaning your white sneakers you plan to wear this weekend, re-watching season 3 of Schitt’s Creek, and before you know it (but you do know it) the workday is over. Procrastination, distraction, multi-tasking, setting unrealistic goals – these are just some of the behaviours that can derail your productivity when working from home (or anywhere really). The results – not meeting your KPIs; looking disorganised; coming across as unprofessional, or equally, if not more awful; a huge decrease in your wellbeing and an increase in anxiety as you panic and rush through your task list, at all hours of the night, to meet deadlines. Hello cortisol stress hormone.
Prevention (of workload stress) is always better than cure, so here are our top 5 tips for ensuring productivity on your workdays, and in turn, guilt-free binging of Schitt’s Creek in the evenings.
- Plan the night before. Yes, such boring and logical advice, but it’s number 1 because it works. You plan parties, you plan holidays, you plan what to buy for your partner’s 30th birthday. Plan your pending workday, so you don’t spend the first 30 minutes of the morning reminding yourself what you’ve got on, and what’s urgent, and oh there’s a meeting request for a video conference in 10 minutes, and oh I better prepare for that… You get the point.
- Do not multi-task. Or even more accurately; you CANNOT multi-task. It does not work, everything takes longer, and/or you will do all things poorly. Women, men, no one is good at multi-tasking, so do not even try. This applies to looking at social media, having 23 tabs open, eating your lunch and going through emails. That white business shirt is going to get sauce on it as you’re eating and reading the meeting’s minutes, and, you’re not going to have another clean shirt to change into ahead of your next video call in 15 minutes’ time. <- This will actually happen if you try to multi-task. We promise.
- Eat that frog. This is time-old advice for a reason. Whatever you’re dreading – do it first, get it out of the way. Don’t push through the hours, distracted by a pending, unappealing task. ‘Eat it’ first, and you’ll fly through the rest of your work motivated.
- Look after your mind and body. Take frequent breaks, stretch, exercise, eat low GI food and practice mindfulness. The classic, frequently used example of a ‘mindful’ activity is washing dishes. Wash them on a break, focusing only on what you absorb through your senses. The feel of the water, the scent of the detergent, the sound of the sponge, the bubble sizes, and omit the taste part. Mindfulness is a fantastic tool for re-energising your brain, and resetting. And it can help you get your house clean too.
- Know thyself. And be a friend to yourself. Don’t schedule a job that needs your review, proofing, and sign-off at 8.00am if you’re not a morning person. Equally; don’t block out Friday 3.45-5pm as a time to go over the next quarter’s financial projections if you’ve a mate’s buck’s party from 5.30pm. Know when you’re ‘on’ and schedule significant, important work then.
What are the best productivity tips you’ve come across? The more unusual the better!