Working from home can be distracting!!
Which is why when I discover habits that increase my productivity, I'm eager to note these and share with the masses! Now, I'm not always the most qualified person to write this but on my good days, I'm a MACHINE and these are some of the things I have found the most helpful!
1. Write your to-do list the day before
This has helped me oodles! Of course I add to it relentlessly throughout the day, but it totally helps me sleep better as I'm not dwelling on what I must remember as I try to nod off. I have found a week-long to-do list that I fill out on Fridays with all the overspill I didn't finish the week before, as well as any appointments or deadlines I have and it helps me have a more peaceful weekend. I also LOVE using a highlighter to mark off all my completed things so it's obvious, but I can still read everything I've finished. On particularly busy weeks full of multicolored pen and highlighter markings, I sometimes save the list to remind me how fierce I am!
2. Get a good night's sleep
According to sleepfoundation.org, "Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise." And I FULLY believe it! I have a NOISY upstairs neighbor at the moment and on those nights when the insomniac a few feet above my slumbering head decides to whip out his guitar, I'm grateful we invested in a sound machine and have a nice fan to block out the noise. A few drops of CBD helps me get a great night sleep as well. And when my sleep is sub-par, dang do I know it! Find out what works best for you, whether it's evening meditation, ditching the screens a few hours before hitting the pillow, or a brisk evening walk in the crisp air. Your productivity will soar on the days you feel well rested!
3. Cultivate a healthy morning routine
One of the big changes I made toward the second half of 2020 was giving myself time to wake up in the morning, rather than jumping right onto my laptop and diving into my to-do list, which is what I used to do. When I have a big project going, I sometimes temporarily pick up that bad habit, but the majority of my days now start with a centering routine which has seen my productivity skyrocket. This will look different for everyone, but if you don't know where to start, borrow mine:
First step - don't touch your phone. Don't even look at it!!!
Then enjoy some warm lemon water while journaling (I like using a guided journal, especially in the morning) to the sounds of chakra cleansing tunes, lit by fairy lights and a candle if I'm feeling fancy. Followed up by 10-15 minutes of meditation, and completed with a Spanish lesson on Duolingo if I remember (sometimes I do this later in the day to avoid using my phone right when I wake up). Then I generally make a tea, start on some work that needs focus (this is my prime productivity time.) And around 8:30 I treat myself to a nice little breakfast!
4. Figure out what time of day is your best productivity
We are ALL different. In so many ways. Some of us live for that early start to the day (most days I'm one of these!), but if that's not your optimum productivity window, don't beat yourself up and try to force it. You'll fall into your swing of things when you find that time that truly suits you.
5. Take a break during your WOCL
Have you ever heard of the Window of Circadian Low? This is a term often used in aviation to define when we're at our lowest productivity levels and sleepiness may be the highest. For most individuals, it's between 2 and 6 am, but there's a second window in the afternoon between 3 and 5pm. I learned about this at my last office job. They recommended taking a moment away from the desk, having a short walk, stretch, or tea break. Essentially, giving yourself a moment to reenergize to finish off the day strong.
6. Try Lo-Fi tunes
If you're one of those people who doesn't love silence, but gets distracted with lyrics, I highly recommend finding some lo-fi or chill hop playlists on spotify. They're so relaxing and help me get into my flow. I've listened so much this year that it's completely thrown off my spotify 2020 wrap up!
7. Social distance yourself from your phone
Phones are great. But they are distracting. I quarantine mine to the other room with the notifications off for the majority of the workday, checking it occasionally on tea breaks. The truth of the matter is that most things can wait. And I have a far healthier, productive day if my phone is not arms reach from me.
8. Shut down apps on your computer
A related but tougher thing is to turn off apps on your computer. Most of my day whatsapp, imessage, and mail are completely shutdown on my laptop unless I need to send or check something specific. I even have an auto responder telling folks I only check email a couple times a day, so I can get all the good stuff done before attending to everything else. It's amazing how much more gets accomplished when I wait until the afternoon to start checking messages!
9. Share your to-do list
This one may not be for everyone, but for awhile I was posting my daily to-do lists to my instagram story and I noticed that when I shared all my goals for the day, I actually held myself more accountable. And that's often one of the big challenges of being self-employed - holding yourself accountable to complete everything.
10. Treat yourself!
Do you give yourself rewards? It may sound silly since it's something often reserved for pets and toddlers, but it can actually work if you promise yourself something if and only if you complete one of your goals, big or small. Can be anything from a hot chocolate, to watching an episode of your favorite show, or rewarding yourself with a pair of new shoes. Choose your own adventure! Lots of mini-rewards is a good way to start - get shit done and feel good doing it! What would you reward yourself with?