How To Be Productive Throughout The Day

I worked in an office for 11 years before starting to work from home.  And whoa, it was an adjustment for me. Being at home taught me a little life lesson in how to be productive throughout the day.  I personally loved the social buzz that’s at any office.  Water cooler chatter?  Give it to me.  Congregating at the printer?  Bring it.  G-chatting with friends?  My favorite.  The office made me energetic, even if it was a little distracting from time to time.  I still knew how to buckle down and get work done.

Two years ago I left the 9 to 5 life (read about it here–it’s one of my most popular posts!) and I know that this freelance/entrepreneur (I co-founded One/Third, if you didn’t know) life is now for me.  However, I definitely miss the office setting; let’s face it: seeing friends, grabbing coffee, and working side by side with smart colleagues is not happening in my home office. 

So, maybe you’re working from home given the whole quarantine situation; in fact, maybe once quarantine is over, you’ll STILL be working from home given we don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19.  Some people have told me they’ve already received word that working remote is in place at their office until September!  That’s crazy, right?! Maybe I can share a little of what I’ve learned on the productivity front and hopefully it resonates with you!

working from home tips and tricks

How to Be Productive Throughout the Day

Get Ready for the Day

I’ve mentioned getting ready for the day before (actually quite recently here) and you guys, I’m telling you, a morning routine helps–and it starts with most people’s favorite meal of the day.  I love to start my morning routine with a hot cup of coffee and it helps me all day long.  I’m not a huge breakfast person but a slice of peanut butter toast with my coffee helps immensely (it’s an important meal, after all).  

I am insanely unproductive when I don’t at least change my clothes and do my skincare routine.   As for getting ready, a little makeup personally helps me, too, because I am on video calls a lot and that Zoom/Google hangout reflection is holy unflattering.  It’s nothing much–just a little Supergoop Cream, mascara and blush usually.  It is crazy, though, how much this can affect my day and productivity.  I have tried working in pajamas from bed and I should just turn on the TV because I won’t be getting a thing done.

Make a To-Do List, by Priority

Look, this sounds really obvious but to-do lists really help me. Another obvious tip: most important tasks at the top.  It’s kind of like making a list for the grocery store–like OF COURSE YOU DO because there are obvious things to grab that you’d otherwise forget.  It’s applicable to the to-do list, too–writing in down in my calendar notebook REALLY helps me.  When I have a list, I’m more apt to check everything off rather than if I have a one-off calendar reminder.  And if you’re more digitally minded, use the reminders app on your phone!  Whatever works for you, but lists help, especially if you prioritize the task’s importance…I promise.

Set Timers

When I first heard about timers, I honestly remember thinking, ‘that’s dumb.’  I have since swallowed my pride (and my words) because a timers kick ass.   When I started working from home, I struggled with time management.  It was weird creating my own schedule and sometimes I didn’t know what to do.  Do you hate plowing through emails but know you need to get through them?  Set a timer for X amount of time and get it over with.  Do you want to work on a presentation without ANY interruptions?  Set a timer (and turn off iMessage and put your phone in another room).  I even use timers to clean my house–seriously!  And here’s the clincher: when you set a timer, you can usually do the task way faster than you originally planned for.  I

Change of Scenery

This may not be applicable during quarantine seeing as you can’t really pick up and work from a coffee shop, but someday we’ll be able to do that again.  I like working from SoHo house downtown (I’m a member and it gives me that buzzy office vibe I miss so much) or any coffee shop.  There’s something about a change of scenery that can boost productivity.  And if you’re stuck at home, maybe work from a different room every once in awhile to change it up!  My only advice: avoid working with your laptop on your actual lap–it’s a productivity killer (in my humble opinion).

Block Off Your Calendar 

Be sure to block off your calendar for calls, meetings, even email sessions!  It’ll help with overall productivity when you schedule out your day.  It also help me start start my day; when I can look at my calendar and see what I’m dealing with it helps me feel like I know what I’m facing for the rest of the day.

Take Breaks

I was talking to my friends about our Peloton (read more about my journey here) and I mentioned that I ride at different times throughout the day.  I know some people have to workout at a certain time but I’m used to a varied schedule and I am willing to workout whenever I can squeeze it in.  Sometimes it’s in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, it depends on the break I need that day.  And obviously, you don’t need a Peloton to take a break while working at home.  Go for a walk while listening to music to get your blood flowing, listen to a podcast while having a snack, call your mom, anything! 

Just take a break from your work to keep stress levels down.  Sometimes you just need to walk away to stay productive.  Think about it, you’d take a break while at the office, whether it’s coffee with a friend or scrolling on your phone, so be sure to do that while you’re at home.  

Do Not Disturb

Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your phone because if you’re like me, you constantly are looking at it EVEN if it’s on silent.  Not having distractions helps me stay on task and it keeps me from scrolling mindlessly on social media.  Just hide it for part of your day and watch your productivity levels soar.

What are YOUR tips?  What has worked during quarantine and what hasn’t?  Or, if you’re a WFH veteran, what works for you?

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