Working from home? These productivity hacks will get you accomplishing more in less time.
Have you ever found yourself wishing there were more hours in a day? Unfortunately, time cannot be controlled by us but what we can control is our productivity.
In this blog post, I’m going to cover the best hacks to improve your productivity working from home.
Table of Contents
First, start with these proven productivity hacks
Wake up an hour earlier
It pays to be a morning person. There are countless studies that correlate waking up early to productivity and success. Set your alarm one hour earlier than using and stop hitting the snooze button again and again.
Waking up earlier will allow you to get an extra hour of work done. Staying up an extra hour to work isn’t the same thing. You can cash in on the extra hour at the start of your workday, not at the end of it.
Another advantage of getting up early is that you can work in the daytime rather than at night. It’s so much better to work by an open window on a sunny day than in a closed-off room with unnatural lights on.
In your personal life, it’s true that the early bird gets the worm, as they say. There are fewer crowds in the early morning, so commute times will be shorter, and the machines at the gym will most likely be more available. You’ll also have more time to eat breakfast and prepare for the day, which can get you fueled and ready to knock out your list.
Before heading to the office, take a couple of minutes to breathe and meditate.
Meditation clears and recharges your mind, preparing you for the challenges of the day.
Make a daily to-do list
Make a daily list of tasks to complete every day. Keep it simple and realistic. It must not be massive jobs that will take hours to finish.
You need something to help you prioritize your to-do’s for the day and keep you on track.
Complete your hardest tasks first
It’s best to get done with your hardest tasks first, which will free up your day to complete the rest of your tasks.
Not only are you going to feel better getting the worst task done, but you’ll also be more productive the rest of the day too.
Organize your inbox
Getting to work and seeing a mountain of 50 unread emails cluttering your inbox is unnerving.
Keep your inbox as tidy as possible by deleting, archiving, and replying to emails. Don’t look at an email twice. Take care of it the first time and move on to the next one.
Learn to say no
People will pull you every which way, asking you to pick up their dry cleaning or take on an additional task at work.
But even though that two-letter word can be hard to say sometimes, you need to learn that it’s okay to say no.
Clear the clutter off your desk
Create a clean workspace to help you avoid distractions. Clear off your desk. It’ll allow you to focus on your work better.
Get off social media
Social media is one big distraction after another. You probably stare at a screen all day at work, so it’s probably not a good idea to use your eyesight even more to look at social media.
Do one thing at a time
Don’t be the master of multitasking. You’ll end up doing a lot of things – badly. Even though you think you can do two things at once, you can’t.
Your brain can only do one thing at a time, and switching back and forth between tasks affects your productivity.
Get an adequate amount of sleep
The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Are you getting enough sleep? If not, your productivity will suffer.
You may see this as an easy thing to do, but most times, we forget to take good care of ourselves because we are distracted by work. If you only sleep for a few hours at night, you are hurting yourself and your clients because you will end up being less productive.
You can improve productivity when you sleep for 7 hours. It helps relieve stress and improve brain functions.
You might think headphones are a distraction, but au contraire, when people see you with headphones on, they are less likely to bother you.
Whether you choose to listen to music while you work is up to you.
Make quick decisions
One of the most time-consuming tasks you’ll find during your day is making decisions.
Certain decisions require you to think for a while, but think about this for a second: Is a decision you reach in the first minute the same that you’d reach in 15 minutes? Probably.
So don’t overthink it and accelerate your decision-making.
One of the keys to good productivity is taking action – without delay. But this can be easier said than done.
Choose 3 important things to do today
Just so you know, it’s not that easy to do all the activities on your to-do list. On the other hand, using this tip can bring you satisfaction from what you have accomplished. You should ask yourself this question on a daily basis, what are the 3 most important things that need to be done today?
After identifying them, make sure you write them down. Doing this will help you stay focused on what’s really important for that day. Even if you are distracted one way or the other with some activities, make sure you still have time to accomplish more important tasks before the day runs out.
Have a master plan
Building an empire without a blueprint will be very difficult or impossible. Planning your day is one of the greatest productivity boosts. Ensure you list all your activities for the day, calls, meetings, and any relevant event in your plan.
You need to estimate the duration of each task and outline how you plan to execute each task without affecting the other. You may go off track sometimes, but that should not be a problem. Doing this will serve as a guide in helping you stay focused throughout the day.
For the next productivity hacks, let’s focus on being efficient with the time we do have.
Second, let’s improve your efficiency
Being productive means doing more with less, faster yet still correctly. Let me discuss how to be more efficient to squeeze the most out of your day.
Multitasking isn’t the answer
Managing your time is essential for improving your productivity. If you think multitasking is the answer, think again.
Even though you claim to be the master of multitasking, you’re not. It’s been proven that you can’t do two things at once.
The brain is not like a quad-core processor. It performs tasks one at a time.
Sure, you can drive while adjusting the radio dial, but while you’re thinking about your selection, you’re not thinking about the road!
Minimize tasks that distract you
The appropriate way to manage your time efficiently is to minimize tasks that distract you. Yes, that means shutting off notifications when you’re working.
Plan your day in sections. Start it off with email, news, and social media to get caught up on what you missed overnight.
Then shut off alerts and concentrate on the most important tasks of your day.
Throughout your day, it’s okay to take breaks and even a power nap. What’s imperative is that you work efficiently with a laser focus on the task at hand.
Your workstation needs to be free from clutter. A white empty area eliminates all distractions, allowing you to see only what you’re working on.
If you work from home, create a new user account on your computer dedicated to work. Having a work bookmarks folder is not enough.
On your browser, create an account with your work email so that you are logged into a browser that only has work-related bookmarks and plugins.
Turn off email notifications. Every time there’s an alert, you’ll be tempted to stop what you’re doing to check it.
More often than not, it’s a newsletter or something not important. Yet this stops your flow and messes with your concentration.
Having the right mindset
Running a marathon is a daunting task, but while you’re running in one, what matters is just the next mile, just the next step.
Likewise, break your bigger tasks into smaller chunks. Again, doing this reduces procrastination as we’re more likely to avoid doing large tasks.
Checklists are useful for keeping you on track. Utilize checklists to allow you to see that you are making progress with your bigger tasks.
Use an app to create your checklists and check off each small task after you complete it. Seeing the box checked, the ding noise or the strike-through text triggers the rewards portion of our brain.
I use and recommend Meistertask and use it as my to-do list app, content calendar, and more.
Many individuals who are self-employed find it difficult to socialize because they spend most of their time working. Connecting with friends or your clients during a break period is a great remedy to this. You can invite them over for lunch or check up on them to know how their day is going. Having a “walking meeting” outdoor instead of your office or inviting someone to eat with you is an excellent way to socialize during breaks.
Take a stroll
Taking a walk outside for a short moment might be what you need to freshen up your mind and boost your mood to carry out other activities for the day. It is not compulsory that you have to walk a long distance. You can just take a stroll outside and walk around your house or office.
The idea is just to change your environment for a short time. Doing this can help relieve stress and boost your mood.
Learn how to delegate
You can’t have another you running around, but you can learn how to delegate tasks to someone else. Though it may be uncomfortable at first to unload some of your burdens onto others’ shoulders, it may be an opportunity to work on being a team leader and team player.
You probably already do this in your daily life. A perfect example is the grocery store. If your partner is headed in that direction, text them a quick list of the items you need and ask them to pick them up.
Now apply the same principles to your work-life.
For me, when I’m short on article ideas, I’ll hire someone for a few bucks to come up with article topics. Without wasting much time, I now have dozens of ideas to work with. I can then hire someone else to write the content for me. A different person can create the Pinterest graphics for the blog posts. Finally, someone else on my team can promote the posts when they’re live.
You and your team can work together and share progress on your projects using Slack.
By utilizing the strengths of others, you can save time to allow you to carry out the “bigger picture” ideas that make money.
Use technology to your advantage
Technology is a great tool if you wield it properly. Smartphones can either save you time, or they can turn into real time-wasters.
In your daily life, we use tech to save time all the time. When’s the last time you wrote a check, cashed a check, balanced a checkbook, or made a payment in person or by the mail? We just use online bill payment systems to get it handled automatically.
You can use tech tools to help save you time with your online business as well. Here are some examples of how I use tech to save time.
I use PayPal to make/receive payments and send out invoices.
I use automation tools like Zapier to help the apps I use work together.
I use a robust task management app named Trello daily to keep my work on track.
My smartwatch reminds me to start/stop working to help improve productivity.
Learn to say no
When you have a day job and a family, it can be hard to find time to fit a side hustle into your busy schedule.
There’s extraordinary pressure to say yes to everything you are asked to do, whether it’s for your day job, family trips, or your kids’ activities. What happens when you overcommit yourself? You become bogged down with an inordinate amount of tasks and lists of to-dos that you just can’t get them all done. It’s not that you don’t try. It’s just that it’s humanly impossible.
The fix? Strikeout some of the activities. You don’t need to be on every committee or go to every event for which you get an invite. It’s unnecessary. It’s stressful. Cut out the excess, commit to less, and you’ll be more likely to succeed at your side hustle.
Something as simple as saying ‘no’ is integral to clearing your head and making sure you get the amount of rest you need to allow your brain to focus and refresh itself. Remember, you are a better you when your battery is running at 100%.
Be okay with imperfections
For all those perfectionists out there, managing time can be difficult. There’s the pressure for everything to turn out perfectly, for everyone to love your product and for you to be proud of the result. However, spending so much time focusing on being perfect means you aren’t allowing yourself room to be human. We all have flaws, so let’s not pretend we don’t.
A real-life example is during holiday gift-giving. You search for the perfect gift, the wrapping paper, the tape, the bow. Then you spend 10 minutes making sure it’s wrapped perfectly, only to have the receiver rip open the package in less than 5 seconds. Those 10 minutes were definitely not a good use of your time.
Instead of trying to be present yourself as perfect, embrace your imperfections. Accept that sometimes a job, task, or to-do item just has to be good enough.
Look at this article, for example. Are there imperfections? Of course. I’m sure there are spelling and grammar mistakes. I’m sure the images are not optimized properly. The title could be more concise and impactful. It is not perfect, and it will never be, and I’m perfectly fine with that.
Next, get office space to hack your productivity level
When you started your small freelancing side hustle, it was a necessity to work from home. It was cost-effective. After all, you’re already living there and paying rent or a mortgage.
So, you simply designate a space for work, and you’re all set. Simple, right?
But what if your freelance business is beginning to take off? What if you’re no longer some small fry trying to make it big? What if renting an office is within your budget?
Should you spring a few hundred dollars per month to lease office space?
While the decision is a personal one that’s entirely up to you, I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why having an office space can benefit you.
Dedicated office space means you’re entirely focused on work
The number one reason to get an office outside of your house is to improve your productivity.
This point alone can justify the added expense.
Maybe you have small children who need your attention throughout the day.
Maybe you have a difficult time working in a messy, cluttered house.
Or perhaps you just can’t work efficiently with distractions like city noise, radio, or television.
Then there’s the refrigerator that is always just one room away, tempting you to pause working to find a snack.
Getting out of the house can help you avoid all those distractions so you can concentrate on what matters and get more work done.
You’ll have a more professional appearance
First impressions mean a lot. If your job requires you to meet clients in person, you need to have a real office.
If your side gig is a website designer, marketing agency, or consultant of some kind, you might need to schedule an appointment every now and then.
Having an office space gives you the businesslike impression you need to make a positive impression.
If you meet a client at a coffee shop, at their own home or business, or your home, it doesn’t give the appearance of a professional person who they can trust with their money.
What you need is the added credibility of physical office space, which may lead to you attracting more clients.
You get your own business address
When you run a small business, your address will be splashed everywhere. Much like your email should be from your domain name rather than Gmail or yahoo, your address should also be professional.
If you have a newsletter for your blog, your physical address should be in every email. On your about page or contact me section, you can add this physical address as well.
Finally, you can add this address to your business cards.
Your domain registration information is public unless you pay to hide it. You really don’t want to publish your home address anywhere publicly. That’s where getting an office comes into play.
An office space gives you a real address, which is much better than a PO Box. Would you trust a website with no address or a PO Box? But seeing an address with a suite number lets you know you’re dealing with a person who takes their business seriously.
Access to advanced technology
Some office spaces are fully equipped to handle your growing freelance business.
Some have large shared conference rooms with video teleconferencing capabilities. You simply need to schedule to have the room to yourself ahead of time.
If you think having office space leaves a good impression, imagine how having a conference room makes a client feel.
There’s another added benefit to renting out office space. You may also benefit from a super-fast internet connection that you can’t get at home.
Having an office gives you the right mindset
Ever heard of that adage: you have to spend money to make money?
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your dream office. All you’re looking for is a small room so you can get work done.
Plus, that money paid plus any other office-related expenses are fully tax-deductible.
By dishing out a few hundred dollars per month, you’ll force yourself to work hard. You’ll realize you’re spending money, so you will definitely want to take advantage of the time you spend there.
Being in an office with a desk, a computer, a filing cabinet, and no distractions can really do a lot to put you in the right frame of mind.
Then, when you head home, you can concentrate on your family life and leave work behind as much as possible.
Then work to build better productivity habits
I’m a big believer in good habits being a solid foundation for building a successful life. If you can add as many good habits as possible in different areas of your life, you will, in time, be repaid by seeing your intended results.
If you are looking to make a passive income with a side hustle, you’ll need to ensure you always make the most of your time.
Good habits can be easy to introduce into our lives, but how can we make them stick so we can really make the most of our time?
Here are 6 techniques to introduce good habits into your life.
The five-minute technique
It can be difficult to fill your life with new habits, especially when you’re full of so many bad ones. But there’s a way to mitigate that difficulty.
Choose something new and do it for just 5 minutes, every day. 5 minutes is easy. Anybody can do it. You can do it.
Here are some good habits you can employ that can only take 5 minutes of your day.
– You could meditate for 5 minutes per day. Use a meditation app on your smartphone.
– How about going for a quick 5 minute walk around the block every day.
– Drink a full glass of water at a predetermined time every single day.
It is said that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. So do it every day, and before you know it, you’ll be doing these tasks daily without even thinking about it.
Are you looking to bring various habits into your life, but you keep putting them off? Perhaps they seem to be far too time-consuming?
Well, good habits are worth your time – especially when they replace bad ones.
A good way to decide if a new habit is worth the time and effort is to time yourself.
Let’s say you want to start eating healthy snacks but worry it’ll take up too much of your time.
Well, then get your timer on your smartphone out and start timing yourself. Wash and cut up some fruits and veggies and put them into 7 individual containers to be consumed during the week.
Let’s say this whole process took you 15 minutes.
Each day, you get a good healthy snack at your fingertips that take literally no time to make (since you already made them, of course). The result is you eat better, feel better, and you’ll have no excuses not to eat healthily.
The solar flare technique
This technique is based on how a solar flare acts. Basically, a solar flare starts off very small, and then over time, it grows into something huge. Can you put a similar thought pattern into making your good habits stick?
Perhaps commit a few minutes to a task in the first week and commit more time as the month continues if you’re getting good results.
Start small and build up blocks is the idea. For instance, if you feel like you would like to take up walking to introduce some exercise into your life, then start by just walking around the block at first.
Then, build up the distance over time, and before you know it, by the end of the month, you could be walking for a few miles each session.
Success stories aren’t made overnight. Marathon runners didn’t start by running marathons. They started by taking small steps and working their way up over time.
The Pomodoro technique
This technique can be great for seeing tasks right through to the end and really making habits stick. The Pomodoro technique is where you work on your task for a set amount of time and give yourself a break for an allotted amount of time.
The most commonly suggested way of using this technique is by working on something for 25 minutes and then stopping for 5 minutes. This allows you a break, so your brain doesn’t get overloaded.
By knowing you have a dedicated time slot coming up, it makes it easier to put a big burst of energy into a task.
Work out why you aren’t able to get started
This is a great technique to try to understand more about yourself. What’s stopping you from starting on the task ahead or the good habit you wish to develop?
Sometimes you just have to stop and think to come up with a solution.
What are your excuses? How can you fix it?
If you don’t look at your bad habits (and lack of good habits) realistically, you won’t affect change.
Use a habit tracker app
A habit tracker app serves as a reminder of what you should be doing and confirms how much you have actually achieved.
Apps can be great to use to help track your progress, keep you on your toes, and ensure that you make the habit stick.
You have now set yourself a target to reach by a chosen date. A deadline can put pressure on us, but at the same time, we tend to act better if we know that we have to complete a task by a certain day.
Working from home? Try these productivity hacks
The 9-to-5 crowd thinks it’s a dream come true to work from home. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Sure, working at home has its advantages. You have the freedom to wake up whenever you want, dress however you want, and set your own work hours.
Yet, on the other hand, distractions are plentiful when you work at home, and it takes real discipline to actually get things done.
When you work from home, there’s no boss to stop you from checking your Facebook every 5 minutes. There’s nobody to yell at you for watching daytime television for hours on end. There’s no one to get on your case for having a 2-hour lunch break.
This freedom may sound nice, but it’s a recipe for disaster when you own your own business. Work-at-home freelancers aren’t paid by the hour; they’re paid on commission.
Everyone shares the same 24 hours a day; however, it seems that some of us can accomplish so much more than others. It’s all about time management, removing distractions, and being more efficient with our time.
If you’re finding it difficult to focus at home, follow these hacks to maximize your work-at-home productivity.
Designate an exclusive space for working
If the living room is where you watch TV and where you work, it’s hard to actually work when you’re in that space.
Every worker needs his or her own place under the sun. Those who say they can work anywhere are telling a lie. Because even if they can indeed work, their productivity level is sure to go down.
When working at home, investing in a comfortable home office is highly recommended. Treat this room as a real office.
That means no television, doors closed, and yes, that means no unauthorized people allowed.
Start the day with a schedule
There really isn’t a structure when you work from home. This type of flexibility is dangerous to those who lack discipline.
Creating a schedule or a set of goals for the day helps provide the structure you need to be productive.
Create a to-do list every day and set out to accomplish each item on the list. Then check each item off your task list as you go along.
The pleasure of completing a task will only help motivate you to complete the next item too.
Organization is key
Clutter will cost you a lot of time. It’s also not good for your mind. Having a messy office doesn’t lend to being disciplined and productive.
When you have a neat office space, it exudes professionalism and will make you want to stay at the top of your game when you sit down to work.
Sometimes, being organized is all you need to regain motivation. File old documents, dispose of anything that’s no longer important and move things you rarely use to another location if possible. Doing this makes everything you need more accessible.
But organization isn’t just putting the pens in the correct drawer; it applies to your hard drive as well.
Organize your work, create folders and sub-folders. Rename items so you can find them again easily. Don’t just save everything on the desktop as Untitled 1, Untitled 2, etc.
Remove anything that can distract you in your home office. If things can veer your attention away from your daily goals, then do away with them.
Oftentimes distractions happen right on the very computers we’re using to work. Whether it be a Skype call coming through or a Facebook message, or a new email, it’s important to stay focused on work.
So log out of your personal accounts so you won’t be bombarded with any distractions while you’re “at work.”
Create a daily routine
It’s difficult to work all day and night. The more hours you work (or try to), the less productive you will be. True productivity occurs when the mind and body can perform at their best.
Set two 15 minute break times and one lunch hour every day. Use your 15-minute breaks to enjoy a cup of coffee or go out to walk your dog. Lunch hours may be spent with your family.
Never eat in the office or stay inside for 8+ hours straight. Doing so is not healthy, nor will it lead to improved productivity.
Health is paramount to your productivity
It’s not sensible giving little or no attention to your health, you will be less productive, and at the end of the day, you put your work at risk. Ensure your health tops your list of priorities. Doing this will make you more effective when going about your activities.
Below are some effective morning techniques to try out:
Begin your day with a glass of water.
Ensure you drink a glass of water every hour to stay hydrated all through the day.
Do not skip breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It provides you with all the energy to begin your activities for the day. Taking coffee does not count. Make sure you eat something substantial.
Do morning exercise.
Exercise has numerous benefits; it can boost your mood, energy, relieve stress, and so on. It is better you exercise in the morning before you begin work than after. Even if you are short of time to do a full workout, you can take a short walk outside or jog around for some minutes.
Eat a healthy lunch
This may appear easy, but most people, especially solopreneurs, prefer forfeiting a meal in order to be more productive. A decision like this may not go well in the end when you find yourself short of energy later in the afternoon.
Eating a healthy lunch provides the boost required to go about with your activities for the day, makes you more attentive, and provides you with the energy to perform any task effectively.
Finally, get more work done by doing less
Even though everyone has the same amount of time each day, it seems like some entrepreneurs can get more done than others. Are these people just working smarter and harder than the others?
While it’s true that working smart is just as important as working hard, there are too many people out there who just work hard because they aren’t sure how to work smart.
Here are 5 ways to get more done by working less.
Productivity hack: Automate It
There’s plenty of tools to automate some aspects of your life and business. There’s bound to be at least one thing you do that can be automated to save you time.
How much of what you do in a day could be automated? Perhaps you get a lot of emails, and they can be answered with a pre-written response.
You can do that with Gmail. From within Gmail, go to Settings > Advanced > Canned Responses (Templates) to enable the feature.
There are tons of ways to integrate apps you already use to help you save time. My favorite one is having a new blog post automatically shared with all of my social media channels.
Be smart: outsource it
They say that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. This is simply not true. You just have to know what to outsource and what needs to be done in-house.
One major problem underperforming entrepreneurs have is understanding what they can outsource and how they can do it efficiently.
You should also give a VA a try if you’ve thought about outsourcing your work.
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) could be a great way to keep your business running smoothly and give yourself more time to get things done. Think about how much time and money you lose doing the same boring and repetitive tasks.
As long as you can clearly tell the VA what you need and what you expect, you’ll have no trouble finding a good one.
Focus: get more done by doing less
If you want to get more done, then you actually need to do less. It sounds crazy, but you need to be working on as few things at a time as you can.
Steve Jobs gave an excellent explanation of this when he took the 350 projects Apple was doing and cut it down to 10. He said that people assume that focusing is about saying yes while really it’s about saying no.
You need to turn down more things than you say yes to. You need to be careful and deliberate about which projects you take on. It’s best to focus on only one thing at once.
Have one big goal or one big thing you need to accomplish and focus on doing just that one thing today.
Delegate: you’re in control
You should make good use of the team or partners that you have. There’s nothing wrong with delegating work to your team if you have to.
Underperforming entrepreneurs have this idea that they have to do absolutely everything. But that’s just not true. An entrepreneur is the person in charge, much like a conductor is in charge of the orchestra.
Assemble your team and delegate tasks. Then it’s your job to oversee and ensure the right people are working on the right task. That means you need to find someone with the skills to match the job that you need them to do.
You can start delegating smaller tasks until you understand their capabilities and have confidence in their abilities. Pretty soon, you’ll be giving them full tasks to do, and you’ll have a lot more time.
Refresh: schedule breaks
While it’s true that productivity depends on momentum, some entrepreneurs rely too heavily on momentum to get things done, and they end up burning out. Sometimes when you try to do more, you can burn and do less.
It’s important you schedule breaks into your routine. You’ll find that breaks don’t cause a break in momentum and actually allow you to keep it for longer without burning out and losing your focus when you need it most.
Using a technique such as a Pomodoro Timer lets you take regular breaks without making the conscious effort to think about taking a break or making yourself take one.
I hope these productivity hacks for working from home have helped!