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10 Tips to Help You Be More Efficient Working From Home

10 Tips to Help You Be More Efficient Working From Home

Are you  an expert at working remotely? You will be if you apply these 10 simple tips to your daily routine.

Being efficient working from home can be a challenge. There are tons of distractions, less accountability, and less communication than when you’re working in the office. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are lots of ways to keep yourself working productively from any location.

Whether you work from home every day, a couple of times per week, or even if you’re just working from home while you recover from an illness, these tips can help you to get the most out of your remote work hours. You won’t believe how much you can get done in a day!

1. Keep yourself to regular work hours

Work From Home Clock

    This is the first step to ensuring productivity while working from home. It’s tempting to give yourself total flexibility as to when you get started, take breaks, and call it a day. But you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t keep yourself to at least some amount of consistency. Setting yourself consistent hours keeps you accountable to yourself and to your boss. It makes you more likely to get all your work done, and it makes it easier to get in touch with you.

    Here are the important factors to consider when you’re setting an at home work schedule:

    • When your boss needs you to be available
    • Communication with your coworkers and customers
    • Time of day when you are most productive

    This doesn’t mean that you need to work 9-5 every day. You should work at the times of day when you’re most productive. However, it’s a good idea to find out when your boss really needs you to be at work. For example, it might be important for you to check your emails each morning, or to be available by phone in the afternoons. Other than that, choose times of day when you’re likely to get the most work done. Communicate those hours of availability to anyone that might need to get in touch with you, and you’ll be on your way to productive, consistent work days.

    2. Keep work time and personal time separate

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    Work from Home Watch

      Just as it’s important to work when you say you will, it’s important to give yourself time off when you’ve promised it. Don’t extend the work day too far beyond what you planned, at the risk of burning yourself out.

      Keeping work time and personal time compartmentalized also helps you keep productive while you’re at work, and reduces stress when you aren’t at work. In the same way that you scheduled your work hours, schedule, communicate, and plan when you will not be available to work. For example, if you like to take evenings to spend time with family, make sure you communicate that you aren’t available for work during that time. And then hold yourself to that commitment!

      3. Plan your workflow

      Work From Home Planner

        One surefire way to keep productivity up is to get smart about planning your work day. Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done, and what you will work on if you have extra time.

        You might find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed to plan for the next day. You may find that you sleep better without the stress of planning in the back of your mind. If you find that planning before bed actually keeps you awake, try making a plan for the day while you eat breakfast or exercise before work.

        In your planning, consider the following:

        • Do the highest priority tasks first
        • Plan your day around your own natural cycles–do the hardest work when you have the most energy throughout the day
        • Plan yourself rewards and breaks throughout the day

        4. Break up the day

        Work from home snack

          If you followed the last step, then you’ll have already planned breaks for yourself throughout the day. Make sure you get up from your desk during those breaks–get some fresh air, grab a healthful snack, and talk with another human being if at all possible. All of these activities will help you reset, get your blood flowing, and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next chunk of tasks.

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          Try planning how you’ll spend your breaks ahead of time, so you have something to look forward to. Just make sure you decide how long you will spend on a break, so you don’t get too distracted. Ten to 30 minutes is great for shorter breaks, and an hour or two is perfect for lunch.

          5. Dress like you are at work

          Work from Home Clothes

            Even if you won’t be interacting with another person all day, it’s important to dress for success. This includes showering and brushing your teeth! This will tell your brain that it’s work time, not relaxation time, and that will give you a lot more energy. Sweatpants and a T-shirt might be more comfortable, but you may also feel sluggish, sleepy, or unmotivated.

            It’s also a good opportunity to give a new outfit a test drive–risk free!

            If you have a hard time motivating yourself to get ready in the morning, try laying out your outfit the night before, or planning an outing during the day so that you have to get dressed.

            6. Create an at-home office

            Work from home office

              It might be tempting to work from your couch, easy-chair, or even from your bed, but this could take a huge toll on your productivity. Try to always work from a consistent room, desk, or chair, to tell your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation.

              You are likely to feel more alert, more confident, and more organized. Try setting up a desk where you always work. Set yourself up with a comfy, supportive chair, a spacious desk, and consistent workplace tools. Make sure to personalize your space. After all, you will be spending a lot of time there!

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              7. No roomies allowed

              Working from home kids

                Being efficient working from home is all about boundaries, as we have previously discussed. This also means setting boundaries for kids, pets, and your spouse or roommates. Try to encourage them to leave you alone while you are working so you can stay focused.

                Try to keep the boundaries friendly and playful, but make sure you stick to them. One fun idea is to make a sign for the door of your office that indicates whether you’re working or not.

                8. Be your own janitor

                Work from home mess

                  Unlike in the office, you don’t have a janitor to clean up after you, which means you have to do it yourself. Keeping your home office clean helps you stay focused, get organized, and be productive. Even if you’re someone who isn’t bothered by a messy desk, keeping some semblance of order helps ensure that nothing important falls through the cracks (or gets lost in a stack of paper, as is more likely).

                  However, this tip goes beyond just keeping your home office clean. Having a messy home could inspire you to procrastinate on work tasks in favor of cleaning–which is bad news for your productivity.

                  Setting yourself a weekly cleaning schedule can help you keep on top of cleaning your home, so you won’t be tempted to clean during work hours. Make sure to schedule regular tidying of your home office!

                  9. Tune in to inspiration

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                  Work from Home music

                    A great advantage of working from home is that you can’t distract your coworkers. Go ahead and play those pumped-up jams loud and proud, if that’s what gets you moving. Or try a more soothing soundtrack, with nature sounds, instrumental music, or even by leaving the windows open to let the sounds from outside come in. If you’re doing repetitive tasks, an audiobook or podcast may even be what you need to keep moving.

                    Try a few things to find what works best for you.

                    10. Stay in the loop

                    Work from home call

                      One of the best things about working in an office is the potential for collaboration and socialization. You don’t have to lose this just because you are working from home. Try to check in with your coworkers at least a couple of times per week, whether by email, phone, Skype, or even in person.

                      Make sure you keep up on a personal level as well as a professional level. You can do this without taking a lot of time–just share the things that are most important, and encourage your coworkers to do the same.

                      If you can master these 10 tips, you will be a work-from-home wizard before you know it. You might even find that the days you work from home are your most productive days!

                      What are your tips for being efficient working from home?  Let me know in the comments.

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                      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                      1. Start Small

                      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                      Do less today to do more in a year.

                      2. Stay Small

                      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                      Why?

                      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                      Peter Drucker said,

                      “What you track is what you do.”

                      So track it to do it — it really helps.

                      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                      Peter Drucker also said,

                      “What you measure is what you improve.”

                      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                      For writing, it’s 500 words.
                      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                      6. All Days Make a Difference

                      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                      Will two? They won’t.

                      Will three? They won’t.

                      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                      What happened? Which one made you fit?

                      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                      10. Punish Yourself

                      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                      11. Reward Yourself

                      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                      In the End, It Matters

                      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                      Keep going.

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                      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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