As a writer who’s been working from home for the last two years, I can tell you something about the productivity influx; It only lasts a few hours.

First, because the human brain can only remain alert for so long.  Several hours in and that sizzling jolt of motivation fizzles out.

Thank goodness for coffee. Almost always, a cup of coffee gets us up when the lack of motivation rains all over our parade.

Yes, this trick works. Except now.

 

Here’s why:

If you’re like most people, the notion of working from home first seems brilliant. I mean, with no annoying boss in sight, you finally own the freedom to control your day on your terms. But after a while, it’s almost as if cold water splashes on this brilliant idea.

You’re now finding yourself spiraling out of control as your focus continues to wear thin. In fact, you’re doing far much less than you would if you were still operating from the office. Additionally, your normal routine has come crashing down like a strong wave against a rocky shore.

And that’s not all.

Kids and chores have now encroached on your space. And your productivity is now a hair above the flatline. Your work is now scrunched up between those two. Plus there are literally a dozen little things nipping at your heels.

So, how can you change that?

What you need is to toss your current system out and re-design an effective framework to enable you to stay on top of your game. By using these tips, you’ll be able to engage in meaningful work and still gain control of your life as you work from home.

 

Adopt a ‘work-first’ mindset.

This is important as it helps you to plan your days around your work and not the opposite. Your work needs to come first and everything else later. Plan your days as you would if you had to go to the office as normal.

‘What about the kids?’ I hear you ask. Simple, get up an hour or two earlier and get started on your work.

Also, switch off your phone the night before and don’t switch it on until later on in the day. Look, I know it’s hard. But you must resist the temptation of switching on your phone first thing in the morning.

Otherwise, you find yourself trapped in the rabbit hole of the internet. you and I know that once you’re sucked into it, it’s a struggle to come out! And don’t get me started on how many things and distractions you pick up when you start your day scrolling through your phone.

 

Create a new morning routine.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because your current routine isn’t working, or you feel as if you’re not getting enough stuff done. I totally understand.

You see, a change of environment demands a change of dynamics. Meaning, you’ll need to swap things around if you intend to keep your productivity boat afloat.

For instance; if you normally work out in the morning, you’ll probably need to schedule it for later on in the day because of the kids.

Also, remember that a good morning routine only works if you get a good night’s sleep. Ever seen a fish flustering in the mud? Yup. That’s exactly what lack of proper sleep does to you.

 

Shower and dress up.

The other day I watched a guy who said he hadn’t showered in 6 days since he stopped going to the office. I felt sorry for the people who had to self-isolate with him. I am still crossing my fingers hoping he was joking.

My point? Don’t be like that guy.  Take a shower. Daily.

 

Oh, pajamas! Don’t we just love them? Every time slip into mine, I am literally flown to my happy place. I get a free pass to enter the laziness zone. Awesome! I bet you feel the same way.

However, if your intention is to stay motivated enough to be productive, you simply can’t afford to clad in pjs all day.

No. Nobody is suggesting you get dressed up in a crisp ironed shirt or a pair of heels. But, you do need to mentally position yourself to a work-mode. and this starts by taking a shower and dressing up. Then some decent and comfortable clothes.

This is how you flick the right mental switch that makes you ready for a workday.

 

Create a workspace.

I’ll be quick to note that this is by no means a rule of thumb for effective work. Why? Because I’ve done plenty of work from my bed especially during those Melbourne winters.

But, whatever your workspace looks like, it needs to meet a few requirements if you’re going to get much done.

For starters, it should be clutter-free. Because whether you realize it or not, cluttered space has a way of infecting your mind with clutter. Secondly, allow some light and fresh air to penetrate through. It helps a lot in keeping your mind alert.

Also, consider keeping your phone in another room. Don’t underestimate the magnitude of control that little gadget has over you. It’ll have you aching to reach out to it every two minutes.

Your phone is a beast you need to muzzle.

 

Carve out a priority list the night before.

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

This tops my list as the most effective productivity strategy there is. Perhaps what makes it so vital is because humans are creatures of habit and we need structure in order to perform effectively.

The days I used to get up and outline my list in the morning, I’d wind up feeling a sting of dissatisfaction at the end of the day.

Why?

Because a lack of prior planning meant I was just winging it depending on what I’d thought up. And that would leave me feeling that my day hadn’t been optimized.

In the same note, it’s worth noting that a to-do list does not qualify as a priority list. While a to-do list may comprise of errands and tasks that need your attention, a priority list comprises of tasks and duties that actually translate into results. Results that enhance, promote and improve your career, business or organization.

Ideally, this is what you should aim for.

 

Adopt a time blocking method.

Parkinson tells us it’s possible to remain hunched over on your desk working away, as long as there’s time available.

Translation?

You can accomplish the same task in two hours or six hours. I’ve always wondered how some people get so many things done in the 24 hours that are allocated to all of us. Heck, even Queen B gets 24 hours only. Disclaimer; I am yet to find out how she does it.

But, I’ve recently learned a smart way of working.

 

Enter the Pomodoro technique.

This technique is the badass of getting more things done. Its application involves allocating tasks in intervals of 25-45 minutes and then taking a break. You can set a timer to ensure you don’t get sucked into one task for longer than the allocated time.

But perhaps the game-changer in this is the breaks you get between each task. You see, these breaks force you to step out of the zone before it breaches your creativity stream. It may even cause you to overhaul your project when you come back to your desk and realize that you’re not headed in the direction you want.

You also get to do a few things like drink water, snack or simply walk around.

In my case, I take the laundry out, do dishes or call my partner.

 

Relax.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

At the end of a long day, relaxation is the cherry on top. You’re more enthused to knuckle down on your work when you’ve got something to look forward to. Set a cut-off time for yourself and call it a day. Then stick to it.

When you relax, do wherever puts wind in your sails. Anything that allows your mind to wind down will do. It could be a self-care practice, a book, calling a friend. Whatever. For me, chilling on Netflix watching The Blacklist does it.

 

In conclusion, working from home need not paint your life into a corner. It’s possible to both nail it and stay motivated at the same time.

What techniques are you employing to ensure you remain motivated and productive? Feel free to share.