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This post was written by guest author Greg Johnson, co-creator of Club Thrifty. Thanks, Greg, for providing these productivity tips to my busy readers!
Have you ever wished you could accomplish more with your time? Or be one of those people who prioritize like nobody’s business? Those people always seem to be killing it – they’re crushing their goals, and somehow, they have endless energy for new projects.
As it happens, I’m the lucky husband of one of those super-driven, Type A, productivity masters. While I’m more laid-back by nature, I’ve picked up a ton of productivity-enhancing habits from my wife, Holly. And believe me, I need them – we both work from home, so it’s up to us to keep ourselves on task.
With so many legitimate work at home jobs available today, more and more people are making a go at self-employment. Others are monetizing projects like blogging to generate passive income. We’re doing both!
If you’re in a similar situation (or striving to be), you know how hard it can be to stay focused. Most people who are used to working in traditional settings just don’t associate their home with productivity and work. Distractions abound, and when you work for yourself, wasted time is money down the drain.
If you find yourself veering off course more often than you’d like, don’t fret. I’ve upped my productivity game over the past few years, and with these tips, you can, too.
Ditch Distractions (Like Your Phone)
It seems obvious, but if you want to work efficiently, you need to focus. That means giving the task at hand your undivided attention. And how can you do that? For starters, you can minimize distractions.
Different people find different things distracting, but some common culprits apply across the board. Smartphones everywhere, I’m looking at you. If you do one thing for your work day, it should be turning off your phone or putting it in another room.
Clutter is another major distraction, especially when you’re working from home. Many people find it really overwhelming. Who does their best work with a week’s worth of laundry piled in the corner? No one. You don’t need a fancy workspace but try to keep it clear and relatively clean.
Stay Off Social Media
I already mentioned staying off your phone, but if you’re using a computer, make sure you avoid social media (unless that’s your job).
Seriously, nothing is a bigger time suck than falling down the Facebook or Instagram rabbit hole. You tell yourself you’ll take a 30-second break to check your notifications, and next thing you know, it’s 25 minutes later, and you’re still scrolling. Log out of social media accounts while you’re working. Boom.
Avoid Time Consuming Apps
Some apps can help simplify your life, but others are a waste of time. If an app truly helps you work more efficiently, great. But I’d recommend limiting it to one or two that really work for you – otherwise, you’ll be spending more time on your apps than on your work.
Keep Things Simple
Just like you don’t need a slew of apps to manage your workday, you don’t need a swanky office or a deluxe espresso machine. I mean, if you really love lattes and gotta have the espresso machine, you do you. But my point is that people can spend a lot of time (and money) trying to create the perfect environment. The truth? Most times, all you need is a few square feet and a computer. Holly often works on the bed or in a comfy chair. (Just remember to keep it clutter-free).
Work Regular Hours
Train yourself to go into hardcore work mode by working the same hours every day. As boring as it might sound, most people’s minds and bodies adapt to the predictability of routine. If you wake up at 7:30am and start working at 8am every day, it’ll start to feel natural. If you always shift around your work hours, it’ll probably take you longer to get into the zone of efficiency.
Being productive isn’t about being go-go-go all the time. Turns out, taking breaks can boost productivity. It helps you stay fresh and maintain focus. So, make sure you take a break every 90 minutes (or whatever works best for you). Now, I’m not talking about a lunch break – you only need to take that once a day! But make sure you get up and stretch, maybe take a lap around the house to keep things flowing. Just don’t get sucked down that social media funnel.
Defend Your Work Day
This one is especially important if you’re working from home: don’t let friends and family distract you! Holly dives deeper into this in her Earn More Writing course (affiliate link), but basically, you need to set boundaries. When people hear that I work from home, they think that means I can hang out whenever and go out to lunch every day. But if I did that, I’d never get any work done! When friends text me to go for coffee, I let them know that I work from 8-4, so I’m not free until after that.
Make a To-Do List
When I start a new work day, I like to take a couple of minutes to articulate what I plan to accomplish. I don’t try to get fancy; I just jot it down on a scrap of paper. This to-do list guides what I’ll work on that day and keeps me accountable to myself. Plus, crossing a task off the list is super-satisfying.
Tip: Try to keep your to-do list realistic – otherwise you’ll get discouraged when you can’t accomplish it all in one day.
Do Your Hardest Task First
You know that feeling when you have something on your to-do list that you really don’t want to do? That dread takes up a lot of mental energy – if you let it, it’ll take over your whole work day!
It’s tempting to procrastinate and leave your most dreaded task until the last possible minute, but that’s a mistake. The best approach is to tackle it first thing so that it’s off your plate and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Staying focused when working from home isn’t always easy, but Holly and I have supercharged our productivity over the past couple of years using these tips. It’s not sexy, but hey, we are killing it!
Tell us: What are your best strategies for staying on task?
Bio: Greg Johnson is a personal finance and frugal travel expert who leveraged his online business to quit his 9-5 job, spend more time with his family, and travel the world. He is the co-owner with his wife, Holly, of the popular blog Club Thrifty, where he teaches others how to spend less and travel more.