Working from home is a difficult balance. How do you stay productive without making your home feel like an office?
There are always limits to what you can achieve in a single day, but you can start to push those limits a little more and improve your productivity by taking on a few simple habits and mindset changes.
I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing how exercise is a cure-all for everyone everywhere.
Unfortunately, there’s really no way around it… Exercising does a LOT for your productivity, even if you only do a little bit every day.
Exercising for just 10-15 minutes every workday can:
- Calm your restlessness
- Increase your overall energy
- Help you stay focused
- Reduce some pain (especially neck and back pain)
- Improve your sleep quality
- Boost your mood
The longer you keep up with your exercise routine, the more you’ll benefit from it.
I’ve personally benefitted from this, even though I’m definitely NOT a fitness buff. Every morning after I wake up, I turn on my hype music playlist and work out for 5 songs worth of time(I started with 3 songs), rotating between leg day, ab day, and arm day. The first and last songs are my warmup, cardio, and stretching time.
No real equipment, no gym, and no running required.
It’s not a perfect model and it’s probably not an optimal routine a personal trainer would prescribe, but it’s 100% tailored to my preferences and it’s something I don’t mind doing every workday. That’s how I’ve managed to keep it up.
Even if you hate exercise, find something you don’t mind doing and stick to it. Start ridiculously small and work your way up to a little more until you’re comfortable with it and seeing the benefits.
2. Clean Your Workspace
Cluttered spaces lead to cluttered minds and all that.
There’s actually scientific evidence to back that up. Clutter and mess can increase stress.
Take a few minutes to clean your workspace as much as possible. Organize it to reduce the number of visible areas of clutter. Even if you just put all your loose papers and knickknacks into a drawer, it’s better than leaving them scattered around the desk!
This rule also extends to the space around your desk. If your office itself is messy and unpleasant, you can feel more stressed and take a hit to your overall well-being.
It’s not necessary to have a sparkling clean house with nothing in it, but finding a healthy middle-ground between clutter and minimalism can help you focus and improve the quality of your working hours.
3. Work with Your Body, Not Against It
Whether your working hours are 9-5 or not, there are dips and jumps in your productivity throughout the day. When are you most active? Focused? Tired? Distracted?
If you’re not sure, take notes!
Write down a few adjectives like those above, then note when you feel that way throughout your workday for at least a week.
Often, you’ll find that at least a few of your major adjectives have a pattern to them. Maybe you feel most distracted when it’s close to mealtime, or most active first thing in the morning.
Whatever your preferences are, set up your work schedule around them.
For example, I feel a bit scattered in the mornings and it’s difficult to jump directly into writing. Instead, I use that time to do a bit more of the admin stuff, like updating my business social media accounts or creating graphics.
Later on, when my breakfast is fully settled and the coffee’s kicked in, I pick up a blog post outline and go crazy with it.
Understanding my physical and mental nuances helps me to get more done every day without having to sit down and force myself to painstakingly finish a specific task. You can make this work for you as well.
4. Make Occasions to Leave the House
When you’re working from home, eating at home, sleeping at home, and doing literally everything at home, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. You can get to the point where you actively work against leaving the house or feel uncomfortable.
Social anxiety can increase when you spend too much time inside, especially if that time is spent doing screen-based activities (like reading this article…).
Counteract this by making a point of going out regularly every week.
Do your grocery shopping, take a walk around the neighborhood, go sit at a park, meet a friend for coffee, go to a religious building for regular worship, etc.
It’s not as important WHAT you’re doing, as long as you’re doing something that keeps you around other people and hopefully having a few simple interactions with others. A little bit of socialization goes a long way.
5. Take Functional Breaks
When you’re working from home, there are a lot of potential distractions. Make sure you’re planning breaks within your workday to do everything you need to do, plus a little bit of time for distraction.
Don’t let your breaks get eaten up by distraction, or else you’ll end up skipping important daily habits and potentially taking longer breaks than you should.
Functional breaks are a good solution. Plan time around breakfast, lunch, and dinner (depending on your working hours). In between, give yourself time for bio-breaks, short walks, an extra up of coffee, a quick run to the store, etc.
While you’re doing your functional stuff, you can allow some distraction as well, so you can keep it more controlled. Watch a few videos while you’re drinking your coffee, listen to a podcast in the car or on a walk, or troll around on your phone while you’re… well… on your “bio-break”.
Making a point of taking functional breaks helps you stay healthy, keep your productivity up, and get more done throughout the day.
Chasing productivity can be like chasing your tail. An endless exercise in futility.
While it can be a waste of time to try to optimize every part of your workday, there are some things you can do that are actually shown to help you improve your focus and get more done.
Start with something super simple today and keep polishing it until it feels good and gives you some benefit.