Boosting Focus & Productivity Working from Home
5 ways to increase focus and productivity while working from home.
For those of us that have worked from home pre-pandemic, we know that productivity can actually be increased compared to working at the office. However, there are some unique barriers to focus and productivity related to working from home – distractions, competing commitments, other priorities – that can sway us from our work, like playing with the kids, sneaking in an episode of your favorite streaming TV show, or doing some household chores.
There are TONS of tricks, hacks and tips out there to keep us on track, so I thought I’d limit this list to the five that have worked best for me. There is nothing new or earth-shattering here … just a personal list of favorites that keep me and my work a little more focused!
- Set Boundaries.
This one is significant for me, so I’m putting it first. I have three specific boundaries I keep 100 percent of the time, no exceptions. 1. I am fortunate to have a home office. It’s a small room with a door. Door closed equals NO ONE ALLOWED IN! 2. In this same space, the ONLY beverages allowed are water, tea and coffee, all with no sugar allowed (no beer or wine allowed either, BTW), and 3. No food allowed. No snacking, no lunch, no food in the office. These boundaries are geared toward health, focus and productivity for me personally. What boundaries have you or will you set up for your workspace at home?
- Eat Dessert First!
This is more commonly known as “The Two Minute Rule.” When I create my to-do list for the morning, anything on the list that will take two minutes or less to accomplish gets done immediately … sometimes without even making it onto the list! When I review and reset my to-do list for the afternoon after my lunch break, I do the same again. Those little two-minute tasks can actually get in the way, making our to-do lists seem larger than they really are; getting them done first gives me early wins on which to build more success throughout the day!
- Time Management Named After A Tomato
The Pomodoro method is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that the creator of this time-keeping method used. Any timer can work – an analog kitchen timer, the timer on your phone or smartwatch. or an actual Pomodoro timer. The method is simple: Set the timer for 25 minutes at the beginning of a “work session.” Staying focused on your work for the 25 minutes is the key. When the 25 minutes are up and your timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. Refresh yourself, change your posture, get some hydration, and get back to your next 25-minute work session with your timer. Do four of these and take a larger 20-minute break. Use your timer for your breaks as well, so you remain disciplined and on time and task!
- Bullet Journal: More Than Just Check Lists
My personal foundational tool for my productivity is bullet journaling. Carol Ryder is credited for making bullet journals famous more recently, but in the majority of my career working with creative people, I have watched many artists use a version of bullet journaling. There are few rules to bullet journaling, and any notebook, sketchpad, or journal can serve you. As a matter of fact, I do mine on an iPad with Good Notes. The rules are:
- Create an index at the front of your journal so you can find your entries easily later.
- Number your pages and use those page numbers in your index.
- Have daily, weekly and monthly planning (calendar and time management).
- Use various bullet shapes (for example, I use an open box for a to-do, a dash for a piece of information, an asterisk for something of high priority, and a heart for family items) to signal a meaning for each entry.
Every week (I do mine on Sunday) set up the upcoming week with your calendar review, appointments, deadlines and meetings. Every month’s end, set up your next month, and if you go out 90 days – which I highly recommend – keep that updated every month as well. I also use color in my bullet journal; gray is work, green is family, black is health and wellness.
- Work With a Leadership Coach
The boost in productivity, the increased connection and the focus on intentional development for leaders have been embraced by many people during the pandemic. Coaching has always been an effective method for leaders to increase their productivity, focus and influence with others. Did you know that most coaches work with a coach? Everyone on our team regularly works with a coach of their own. We “practice what we preach” – we know that to remain highly productive and effective, we too need a coach!
If you’d like to learn more about how an Emergent coach could benefit you and your organization during this pandemic and as we enter our new normal for sustained and improved performance, please reach out to me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org