With many of us still working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, our levels of productivity may be dramatically decreasing. One question I get asked a lot by my family and friends is how to be productive all day.
So, below you’ll find seven simple tips that will ensure you make the most out of your time:
1. Make sure you eat enough
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet, so many of us skip it. I’ll hold my hands up… I used to be guilty of not eating breakfast when working from home. I used to think “well I am not doing anything active, so I don’t need food right now”.
However, all this did was make me STARVING and seriously lacking in energy by around 1o:00 am. And, this lack of energy dramatically decreased my concentration levels.
Now I find that when I eat a healthy and filling breakfast (and have a LARGE coffee too), I am far more productive all the way through until lunch time. It works for me, so you should try it too!
Similarly, make sure you keep your brain energized by fueling up on healthy snacks throughout the day. This will keep your energy levels up and keep you feeling productive and motivated.
2. Take regular breaks
Whether you’re working from home or in the office, taking regular breaks will always be one of the top tips on how to be productive all day.
In the office it’s easier to take a break. We can pop to the staff room to make a quick drink and then have some helpful social interaction with our colleagues. However, this is much harder to do when working from home. To compensate, ensure that you’re taking regular tea breaks.
Maybe pop to the kitchen for a quick chat to your partner or kids, if they’re at home. Or, call a family member for a quick 10 minute natter. Talking about and focusing on something other than work is a great way to boost your morale and get focuses again.
If you haven’t already, check out one of our recent posts on how to have a productive lunch hour!
3. Make a plan for each day
Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do, we are less productive and get less done. To help with this, I’ve always found it really helpful to create a plan of the day. In that plan, I have timed slots, where I set myself different tasks to complete.
I’ve worked from home for years now, I find it easiest to break my day up like this:
- I start work at 7am (I am far more productive in the morning than the afternoon). I spend a couple of minute making a list of the tasks I want to get done before my morning coffee (e.g., research blog post ideas, collect research)
- 10am… coffee! I then set myself a task to do before lunch. For example, complete the research for the blog I’m writing
- At 12:30pm I have a 15 minute lunch break (normally I have a salad, which I made the evening before)
- From 12:45pm till about 2pm I will set myself another task. For example, writing all the research I have found in a way that makes sense
- At 2pm I have another 5 minute break. I will then do one more task before I finish for the day at around 3:00pm. This is normally proof reading and fact checking the work I’ve done all day.
I find breaking it up like this makes me work harder in each segment. I’ll tend to think “ok, only 30 minutes until I can have a coffee, talk to my mum or text a friend back” and this motivates me to get the work done. I am also super organized, so I don’t want tasks to start going over into the next time slot, which further increases my productivity levels
Another top tip for make a daily plan: do the worst task first. Dreading a task all day can be draining, so pick the tasks you favor the least and get them out of the way early on.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
I think, when working from home, we’re all a bit guilty of staying up later than we should. Something about working from home fools us into thinking it’s more relaxed, and that we don’t need a much sleep
Well, as I’m sure we’ve all realized, working from home actually requires more motivation and energy. Therefore, it is crucial to get a good nights sleep, as one study found that poor sleep caused employees in the United States to have worse performance and productivity. Some tips for getting the best nights sleep include: going to bed at a decent time, making sure you block out excess light, ensuring the room is the right temperature, removing sounds, putting your phone away before bedtime or meditating before getting into bed.
5. Listen to music
Listening to music is another one of my top tips on how to be productive all day. Research has actually shown that those who listen to music whist working produced a higher quality of work and completed tasks quicker, compared to those who worked with no music. It is thought that listen to music whilst we work puts us in a positive mood, which in turn increases our productivity!
However, don’t just stick on any playlist and expect to be more productive! It is important that we listen to the right kind of music. The best kind of music to listen to whilst at work is simple music. We should listen to music that we are familiar with and that has little lyrics. Listening to music with lyrics can be actually be very distracting and get in the way of our train of thought.
6. Create a good morning routine
I wont go into much detail about this as I specifically wrote a whole blog post on the importance of a morning routine. However, I will highlight that in this post I specifically talked about one piece of research. This research found that those with a morning routine were more cooperative, driven and productive throughout their day!
7. Know your support network
My final top tip on how to be productive all day is to know who your support network is. As humans, we thrive off social interaction and one way to keep productive is to know who you can rely on.
Whether it’s your work team on the other end of zoom, or your mum downstairs, having these good support networks allows you to quickly vent when things go wrong and/or to quickly solve problems. In short, less time focusing on solving things or being angry means more time to focus on your work… and with this, more productivity!