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5 Productivity Hacks to Kick Start Your Day

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5 Productivity Hacks to Kick Start Your Day

How many times has this happened: you have a great weekend, you’re ready to go for Monday morning, and then something happens and it all hits the fan. You’re behind before the week even begins and you’re in a super bad mood. It really shouldn’t be this way, but this is the reality of life.

What can you do to stay ahead of the game and push through even the most maddening distractions to your productivity?

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Here are five suggestions to help empower you to stay focused and make the most out of your day, even when life throws you some curveballs.

1. Have a Game Plan

Sure life happens, but if we have some set-in-stone things that we try to commit to every day that empower us, it will prepare us for whatever our day may bring. These set-in-stone rituals should be things that you need to fuel your body, soul, and spirit. They prepare you to face the stresses of daily living. Therapists call it good self-care skills. Things like a good physical workout, a quiet time of meditation and prayer, reading something that might be intellectually stimulating and fueling your body with healthy nutrition.

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2. Set Goals Daily

We know that goal setting is important, but lots of folks think in terms of setting long and short range goals, not daily goals. Start by making a list the night before of the things that are priority accomplishments for the following day. If the first 3 get done, you’re good. If more get done, that’s an added benefit. In order to set daily goals, you have to plan for obstacles. That means you may have to say no to certain distractions or requests. It means you may have to delegate duties to others. If you have trouble doing these, you need to be curious as to what’s driving that.

3. Be Flexible

We all love to plan. But when our best-laid plans go up in smoke, we have to flexible and come up with creative ideas to make things work in the moment. Flexibility requires that we learn to control our emotional responses. We can’t go around freaking out when things happen because guess what? They will. We have to learn adaptive ways to calm ourselves and focus in the middle of the storm. Things like learning to control the breath and muscle relaxation help. I also teach my clients to scan their bodies for tension at least twice a day. This requires you sit quietly for 10 minutes and focus on each part of your body starting with your head and ending with your toes. You want to scan for tension and any other sensations you notice. Staying calm and focused is the key to a successful day, not to mention your health and overall well-being.

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4. Get Rid of Distractions that Weigh You Down

This one is hard. How many times a day are you tempted to answer your phone, check your email, or Facebook page, or shoot out a tweet? Productivity won’t happen if you’re constantly being interrupted by dings, pings, and boings. So turn ’em off! There will be plenty of time for them later. You also need to beware of people who are time suckers. Sure you want to help everybody, but some people will talk all day long if you’ll listen. Know who is draining you emotionally and make the necessary adjustments to deal with it. Time management is key to productivity.

5. Go to Sleep!

Turn off the TV, the computer or your iPhone and go to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to problem solve and be productive will be dramatically reduced over time. You may be able to pull off 6 hours a night when you’re young and don’t have a family, but sooner or later, this one will catch up to you. When you sleep, you heal and repair your body. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Sleep also helps your brain to function optimally and improves learning.

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None of these practices will guarantee that life and work will always go smoothly. The unpredictable rhythm of life assures us of that. But when we’re on our A-game, we are able to handle most of what life throws at us and keep the ball rollin’.

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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