I feel I am in a good position to give something back to our community here as thanks to them I have been working from home for 14 years. So I continue to be working from home during Covid 19 these past 12 months.
Top 3 tips
Prepare the night before.
Decide the 3-5 tasks or 1 – 1 1/2 hrs of tasks that are going to make you feel like you have won the day. Think about if you only got one done what is the one task is done that makes you feel best. Put them in order and allocate a time to each one e.g 50 minutes: blog post, 10 minutes: go for a run etc
Get up before anyone else
Then you can get these tasks done. If you have difficulty getting up early, I promise you it is as easy as going to bed earlier. It is logical right? Imagine what time you would wake up if you went to bed at 20:00. Try setting an alarm to remind you to go to bed e.g 22:00 to get up naturally at 06:00
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
Then work undisturbed on these tasks, ideally no notifications. If anything distracts you by popping into your mind e.g pay the gas bill, write it down quickly. But carry on focused for the next 25 minutes. Break for 5 minutes every 25 minutes (this is called the pomodoro technique).
You will have won the day before the day even starts for most. The technique of working for 25 minutes undisturbed you can use throughout the day for as long as you can. Just keep knocking things off your task list. Try to keep your task list achievable as the feeling of getting it all done hugely outweighs the feeling of not getting it done (hence 3-5 tasks).
Be sure to put a time by each task for how long you think it will take to complete. You don’t want to suffer time creep e.g making something take longer than it should because you want to avoid something else.
Keep notes of how long regular tasks take so you know how to schedule them. E.g I know that a blog post normally takes me about 2 x 25 minutes to write and 25 minutes to finish off.
If you want to exercise first thing however have difficulty getting motivated
Try thinking about your day like this. You have roughly 1000 minutes in your waking day (16hrs x 60mins). Therefore 10 minutes is worth 1%. So going for a run for 30 minutes is like investing 3 % of your time to make the other 97% better so well worth it!
If you are in a relationship and have children and can both work from home
Try taking turns to work for 30 minutes then swapping child care responsibilities works wonders. It makes you so much more productive as you know you only have 30 minutes to get a task done. Then when you are with the kids you can give it your all as you know that for the next 30 minutes that is your job!
Not sure what your tasks should be?
If you picture your ideal life 8 years from now, what are the differences between then and now? e.g for me more time with my family make sure this is on your daily task list too 🙂
What does this look like in practice?
I am sure my day to day is as different as we all are to one another. I have an alarm for 21:30 to remind me to go to bed around 22:00 then I get up at 6:00. This is what the first hour of my day normally looks like. My most important task is taking care of my health. So I will run or work out for 30 minutes Skiology exercise plan. I recommend this to anyone it is within NHS guidelines of what you should be doing it. And even if you have a bad day you have won with a good work out.
I also use Headspace app to meditate for 10-15 minutes to give my brain a good work out too. I started doing this after reading interviews with 100s of people I admire and this seemed to be one commonality between them all. For me, meditation reminds me of when I was a kid and used my imagination perhaps more than now. It gives me a calm feeling that I can revisit throughout the day if I need. Particularly now that we are are all under house arrest gives me a chance to escape mentally too!
The next part is more personal to me. The kids wake up, they sleep 19:00 – 07:00 thanks to the Save our Sleep method which has worked for us and a lot of our friends too. If I am lucky I can sneak another 25 minutes while they slowly come to life. But this is with the aid of noise-cancelling headphones. Then family life takes over. Once everyone knows what they are doing. I can normally get another 25 mins in before homeschool starts at 09:30.
Our U.K office opens at 10:30 French time so from 11:00 I will keep an eye on that. I am lucky in that not much critical comes into me personally via email. So I don’t have to have notifications on and can check and action emails about 3 times a day.
Depending on one’s line of work, I believe staying out of the inbox for as long as you can, can really aid productivity. The pickle with the inbox is that it can be seen as a to-do list. A to-do list that does not end and that you are not writing. So if you come away from this with anything make sure you are the master/mistress of your own destiny and write your own to-do list! (Unless of course, you are Sophie who runs our office and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Where answering your emails etc is how we get our 6/5 service 🙂
Eating at the desk
Oh and try not to eat al desko, especially as a family! As a foodie company of course we would say this! But there is good science to it too. Eating in front of a screen will teach both you and your children bad eating habits. You learn to eat mindlessly like a zombie. Not enjoying each mouthful, not thinking about it and worst of all because you are in the passive mode you don’t realise while that you are full. So you just carry on mindlessly eating. This effect of zombie-like eating so you don’t know when you are full.