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7 Tips for Productively Working from Home

7 Tips for Productively Working from Home

    There are a lot of benefits of working from home, from being able to see more of your kids to a flexible schedule and more.  But it’s also very dangerous if you’re easily lured in by procrastination and the numerous distractions that can present themselves and hamper your work and productivity.  If you’re going to work from home, be it a day here or there, or full-time, you’ll want to plan it out.  Here are some tips for successfully working from home:

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    1. Make yourself an office, or at least a work “station” area. This will be the spot that you do your work.  If you don’t have a room that you can turn into a home office, you can set up shop at the kitchen table, although this is not ideal.  Taking your laptop and plopping down on the couch in front of the television will present many temptations.  You’ll want to make sure that your home office has everything that you need, and that may even mean getting an extra phoneline, be it a landline or a Skype account where you can be contacted at.  Invest in a good desk, chair, and computer so you’ll be comfortable working, but not so comfortable that you’ll be tempted to slack-off.
    2. Try to set aside long periods of time for work. Working from home can give you much more flexible hours, but if you’re constantly interupted it’s going to be a lot harder to get things done.  Try to make sure you get a few large blocks of time.  For example, if you need to get in 8 hours of work, make 3 blocks of 3 hours, 2 hours, and another 3 hours.  If you need to run errands or take care of other things, do them outside of the blocks of time during your “breaks.”
    3. Try to leave the house each day. Nothing will drive you crazier faster than being at home 24/7.  It’s a great opportunity to go for a walk outside, clear your head, and get your bearings.
    4. Create a to-do list for the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Because it is so easy to get off task while working from home, having a checklist of the things you need to get done will help you visualize your progress.  I’m not typically a list person, but I have found this to be very helpful, and when I’m slacking off it’s clearly visible by the lack of things checked off.
    5. Minimize distractions and set limits online. If the bulk of your work is done on a computer, you probably know all to well the distractions of the internet.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of Facebook or other sites if you keep it open on one of your browser tabs all day.  Allow yourself to check in before you start your work and on breaks only.  When it’s work time, close any non-work related tabs and websites. If you keep Facebook open, you will undoubtedly keep flipping back to it to see if there’s anything new posted.
    6. Don’t procrastinate.  Look at your to-do list and actually do everything on it.  Don’t do 90 percent of it and tell yourself that you’ll just make it up and do it tomorrow.  You’ll create a cycle of constantly pushing things off to another day that is very hard to get out of.  There will be days when an emergency interrupts your work, as there would be if you were going into the office each day. If you’re already behind it can really put you back further.
    7. Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat a good breakfast so you don’t have to stop working when the hunger pangs kick in, and schedule yourself a reasonable lunch break.  Some also find it helpful to dress as if they were going to work.  It’s not necessary to put on a suit, but something more than sweatpants and a tshirt might help you feel more on-task. Schedule a lunch date to maintain social connections outside of your home.

    Working from home takes discipline.  If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little time to find your groove, but if you follow the tips above you’ll find it a lot easier.  The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    How to Stop Information Overload

    How to Stop Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    How Serious Is Information Overload?

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

    This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

    We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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    The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

    Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

    But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

    Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

    Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

    When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

    How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

    1. Set Your Goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

    If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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    • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
    • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
    • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

    If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

    (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

    Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

    3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

    Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

    Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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    4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

    Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Summing It Up

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

    I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

    I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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