Get more done in less time and without hesitation by incorporating these tips to boost productivity working from home every day.
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Productivity is hard.
In a world that seems determined to make us feel inadequate, tackling a difficult task can be daunting. There are so many ways we sabotage ourselves so that our work feels even harder than it is.
With many of us still working from home, there is also a rising need for more self-motivation. Our bosses or coworkers may not be available to push us through the challenging parts of our day. Regardless, work still has to be done. Plus, the sooner we can get work out of the way the sooner we have more time for ourselves.
But how do we actually get more done?
Speaking as a professional procrastinator of at least 10 years, there are a handful of tricks and tips I rely on to get myself moving in a forward direction. Some of these are tips I picked up in my corporate days, while others I found out of desperation when I couldn’t motivate myself.
Boost Your Productivity
We are all wired and motivated differently, so understanding yourself is essential to cultivating more productive work habits. Awareness of your weak areas and why you may avoid certain tasks can often be essential to overcoming those challenges.
There are so many productivity tips out there, you have to find what works for you based on your needs. It’s not a final destination, but rather an evolving journey to learn how to meet your own needs.
In this post I’ve listed my favorite go-to tips to boost productivity working from home everyday. These are methods developed over the years designed to shorten the time for procrastination and aid you in taking action. It’s comforting to know that pretty much everyone struggles in some way with productivity, so you’re in good company. I also included some of my favorite books related to these tips, in case you are interested in learning more.
Boost Productivity Working from Home – 7 Tips
1. Create a To-Do List at the End of Every Day
Compile a list of simple but impactful things you need to complete for the next day.
Planning what you need to do for the following day will help you feel more prepared for the day ahead. In addition, you will be able to focus more quickly the following day because you aren’t spending time planning. You can do this at the end of your day, or make your list throughout the day as you see things that can wait. This is a great way to boost productivity working from home first thing in the morning.
How I apply this rule to my life:
My planner is my everything (I love my customized Golden Coil planner). At the end of my day, I sit with my planner and write out 3-6 items for the next day. Typically, I shoot for a mix of simple tasks and more labor-intensive ones.
This mix of simple and difficult tasks allows me to focus on my goal-oriented tasks, like creating content. The smaller tasks on my list give me the momentum to continue working throughout the day as I check things off my list. I love the feeling when I can check everything off and get a swell of accomplishment.
2. The 2 Minute Rule
If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.
What the two-minute rule does is draw our attention to the ways in which we self-sabotage by procrastinating on short tasks. The two-minute rule takes procrastination and thought out of the equation. You make a prior agreement with yourself to start the task if it takes less than two minutes, without hesitation. This way, you can easily stack short, productive tasks to give you the momentum to tackle the more labor-intensive parts of your day with confidence.
How I apply this rule to my life:
I know the areas of my day where I’m likely to procrastinate. Washing my face, brushing my teeth, responding to text messages and making phone calls. The more you practice this rule, the more aware you become of the tasks where you tend to drag your feet.
To sweeten the deal a bit, I like to have an audio book or podcast that I can put on while doing these more unfavorable tasks (if possible). I also like to set aside time to stack these 2-minute tasks, so that in as little as 10 minutes I feel very accomplished.
3. The 5 Second Rule
If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.– Mel Robbins
When it comes to getting things done, it’s no secret that the most challenging part is just getting started.
We often feel the instinct to change (an instinct that is specifically tied to a goal) but taking action often seems like the hard part.
Mel Robbins believes that there is a 5-second window for everyone to take action on their instinct to change. The 5-second rule is her trick for keeping your mind from working against you. The idea behind this rule is to create forward momentum before your mind tries to sabotage your plans with fears, worries, and anxieties.
She recommends counting backwards from 5 to 1 whenever you feel the instinct to change. This aids in distracting your mind and gives you focus on the action you want to take next. When you reach 1, that’s your cue to take the action without question or hesitation.
You can read more about Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule philosophy here.
How I apply this rule to my life:
Getting up early in the morning is especially hard for me. So when my alarm goes off, I count down from 5 to pull myself out of bed. I’m always happy I got up early and this trick keeps me from making excuses.
I also use this rule on a smaller scale when I write. I tell myself that it’s easier to edit once you’ve written something than to try to come out with the perfect sentences. If I find myself pausing for too long over the keyboard and my insecurities growing, I just count down from 5 and start writing whatever I can on the subject at hand. Often what I first write is no good, but as I continue it improves and gives me something to work with. The hardest part for me here is to just get my fingers moving over the keyboard.
4. Eat the Frog
Do your hardest, most important task for the day first thing in the morning.
The philosophy behind eat the frog is that we all have big, daunting, and important tasks to do every day (or just some days). It’s unlikely that our work will always be what we’re excited to do. Instead of pushing these tasks to an unknown time later in the day, go ahead and do them first thing in the morning.
The morning is typically when we have the greatest amount of focus and energy. Therefore, if you put your important task at the beginning of your day then you are in the best position to complete it quickly and without distraction. Completing this task will make you feel accomplished at the outset of your day, and even create forward momentum to do more tasks.
In addition, intense focus on one task allows us more opportunity to engage in “deep work.” This is a state where all of your mental resources are focused on one singular task and blocking out distractions. You will likely find that the quality of the work and time it takes to complete it is far better.
If this method sounds great to you, you can read more about it in-depth here.
How I apply this rule to my own life:
There are tasks that I absolutely dread in my workday. One of the big ones is outfit photos. It’s difficult taking photos in public, and I’ve worked to overcome this point of anxiety in the years that I’ve been blogging. However, when I started taking photos in the early morning hours I found that my mood for the rest of the day soared. I was more excited to do other work throughout the day because I already ate my frog that morning, and was elated that I’d gotten it over with. This way, I boost productivity working from home first thing every day, which sets me up for success.
Getting the work done – especially the hard stuff – is the best act of self-care you can give yourself everyday.
5. Don’t Wait for When You Feel Like It
Accept the reality that you won’t want to do it, and that’s ok.
Of all the rules on this list, I found this bit of advice to be most freeing for me. Often, we berate ourselves if we aren’t in the proper mood or frame of mind to complete a task. We believe there will be this goldilocks time in our day where we will feel just good enough to tackle that difficult task.
The reality is, that time might not come. It’s likely that it won’t come, because if you’re already not feeling up to it then it’s doubtful things will change later in the day when you have less time and energy.
Accept the fact that you don’t want to do this task. Understand that we often have to do things we don’t want to, and that’s hard. Be patient with yourself and push through the uncomfortability of doing something you really don’t want to. It’s ok, we’ve all been there.
Understand that the faster you can focus and complete the task, the sooner you will be able to embrace all of those good feeling of getting things done. That is the real reward, and it feels better than any lazy morning or afternoon ever could.
How I apply this to my own life:
For a long time, I had this idea that if I was really passionate about what I do, then it wouldn’t feel as much like work. The truth is, work is work. Some of it we enjoy more than others, but it always takes our time, focus, energy, and attention.
I would mentally berate myself if I didn’t feel up to a task and view it as a personal failure. Then I decided to start empathizing with myself, as if I were a child, because the guilt and shame I was putting on myself wasn’t working.
I discovered that telling myself “It’s ok if this is hard” and “work isn’t always easy or what we want to do, and that’s ok” validated the part of me that just wanted to take the easy route out. It’s like in an argument, where just listening to the other person’s point of view eases the tension and makes both parties more willing to compromise. This allows me to boost productivity working from home by not allowing myself to get dragged down by lack of energy.
6. Understand What Ultimately Makes You Happy
Happiness is a direction, not a place.– Sydney J. Harris
At first, happiness may seem like a sun-kissed beach with a cold drink in hand. But through personal experience, I’ve learned that true lasting happiness comes from focusing on your goals and values and consistently acting on them.
Consistently acting on your goals and showing up for yourself (especially when you don’t feel like it) communicates that you are serious about taking care of yourself. This could be consistently sticking to yoga, eating something green at every meal, or working to grow your small business a little bit every day.
Essentially, it’s doing what’s hard today so we can be happy tomorrow.
How I apply this to my own life:
When I feel a swell of happiness that comes from something hard my past self did, I try to soak in that feeling. When I’m trudging through the difficult tasks in my day, I use this happy memory as motivation to continue to move forward and work hard.
The important thing here is that this happy memory is based in the feeling of pride in a past accomplishment. It’s different from buying myself a new bag or pair of shoes as a reward, because this feeling of happiness is internally generated. If I can be consistent enough in this work and accomplishments, then I will have enough internal motivation to get through whatever life throws at me.
7. The 70-20-10 Rule
Focuses on the idea that 70% of your attempts will be mediocre, 20% will be terrible, and 10% will be amazing.
If you’re familiar with the parable of the pots, you know that the best work comes from creating more, not just a handful of “perfect” things. It is based on the premise that the more you do, the more good work you will produce.
If we could choose, I’m sure we would all prefer to work really hard on one specific thing until it is perfect. The reality is, working this way is not the most conducive to truly creative and interesting work.
This may sound pretty simple, but it’s important to remember when you have performance anxiety on a task. Sure, it may turn out to be terrible. But even the best creators make terrible things, and it is a necessary step to creating really amazing things.
Whether you’re writing poems, songs, or research papers, the more you work at it the more impressive the outcome will be. Essentially, the more work you do, the more good work you’ll do.
How I apply this to my own life:
Understanding this rule, I’m pretty amazed by what it has done to my creativity. Knowing that creating amazing things is in part due to talent, but also a great deal to do with experimentation and effort has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone more.
When I’m taking outfit photos, I take 100 instead of 30. When I write a blog post, I really let myself go and write as I please. Then, I circle back and prune my words and add to them later. I can boost productivity working from home by removing any of the time I would spend trying to make something perfect.
Realizing that even very talented people create bad things makes me less hesitant to make mistakes. At the end of the day, mistakes are part of the journey wherever you’re going. If you’re not making mistakes, then you might not be trying hard enough.
Cardigan: Cider (similar) | Bodysuit: Target | Jeans: Levi’s | Shoes: Steve Madden | Bag: Gucci (similar, similar) | Scarf: Corciova | Sunnies: Dollger | Bracelet: J. Crew Factory (similar) | Pearl Necklace: Urban Outfitters (similar) | Chain Necklace: Urban Outfitters (similar)