Effective Strategies to Boost Your Productivity and Happiness When Working From Home
In the times of the COVID-19, we all had to quickly become remote work ninjas. But how to quickly improve your productivity when working from home, especially as an extroverted person? How to self-motivate yourself and keep pace when all you hear is a dead, resounding silence?
In the article “Working from Home: Tips and Tricks,” we touched on this problem and discussed how to develop the right mindset while working from home. In this article, we will put more attention into practical everyday strategies that will help you function as a remote worker.
If you are looking for effective sources of energy, you should hear this first: no, drinking more and more coffee is certainly not the answer you are looking for! Coffee dehydrates your body more than anything, as it is highly acidic. Actually, every acidic beverage with the exception of fresh lemon juice, dehydrates you — from coffee, through strong tea, to soda.
In this article, we introduce the top 13 tricks for how to boost your productivity when working from home — right here, right now!
1. Find Your Optimal Daily Rhythm.
This is the most basic yet often overlooked strategy to increase your productivity. It was found in research studies that our circadian clock is genetically conditioned to a high extent. It was also shown that night owls substantially underperform at work and are at risk of disability in middle age once they are forced to wake up early and work alongside morning larks.
Therefore it is crucial for you to discover your optimal circadian cycle. Plan your night before you get down to planning your day! Please check our article dedicated to circadian rhythms, entitled “Dizzy At Work? Work According To Your Chronotype!” to learn more.
2. Learn the “5-Second Rule” by Mel Robbins.
Mel Robbins gained international acclaim when, as a 40+-year-old, financially broke mother of two, she discovered the “5-second rule.” The rule is very simple: you only have 5 seconds in the morning to jump out of bed and start acting. Or, otherwise, your brain will talk you out of it.
Well, hard to disagree with this statement. The human brain is naturally paranoid. We evolved this way — the most paranoid of humans were the most likely to dodge natural danger and survive. We are naturally fearful of anything that is new and unknown.
Mel’s advice is: when you open your eyes in the morning, count from five to zero and stand up — without any deliberation. Then, just get down to your morning checklist. You can find more information about the 5-second rule and how to effectively implement it in your life in Mel’s best-selling book “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.”
3. Use Your Personal Goals As Motivators.
While working from home, you need to keep on motivating yourself every single day and become your trainer and pacemaker. To put it simply, it is much easier to find the energy to run toward the finish line with a carrot on a stick! Namely, when you see the finish line to your very eyes.
So, invest some time into imagining what you ultimately want to get in life and at work: your lifestyle, your dream job, your dream house, your dream family. Draw or write down your dreams, and put them in a frame on your desk. Just remind yourself every day what the whole game is for!
4. Make a Clear Distinction Between Work and Leisure.
Your brain will keep on thinking about work and burn calories day and night, for as long as you don’t out clear boundaries between work and rest.
Firstly, separate work and leisure in time. It is best to assign specific time slots for working, ideally, suited to your chronotype.
Secondly, separate work and leisure in space. It is ideal if you can afford to work in a separate room allocated specifically to work. If this is not possible, perhaps you can at least use a separate desk for work. If you have none of these opportunities, you can at least choose one color of clothing that you wear only when working alone. The point is: that you should condition your brain and develop triggers that switch the focus every time they are used.
5. Use Time Management Apps Implementing Time Management Techniques.
If you think that some people “were born productive,” you are wrong. It is a matter of getting to know yourself, self-discipline, and consequence. Techniques such as pomodoro or time-boxing help millions of people focus and work more productively.
You can use time managing apps for assistance, such as TimeOut for Mac OX. These apps will effectively help you and prevent you from cheating on yourself, as they will disable your keyboard while taking a break.
Also, productivity strategies are similar to dieting. There is no one-fits-all approach. You will need to test multiple strategies and productivity schemes to find the one optimal for you.
6. Manage Social Media Responsibly.
Of course, as a remote worker, you are more prone to overusing social media as you have more need to surround yourself with people online than stationary workers. Staying off social media gives you FOMO and makes you feel lonely.
Everything is made for people — social media as well. But, social media are highly addictive and induce the same dopaminergic reward system as gambling or drugs. Therefore, they should be used with caution. It is recommended to use social media managing apps such as Franz.
These apps allow you for logging into ALL your social media accounts at a time. Once young into your Franz account, you see all the notifications received via all your social media accounts at once. Once you quit Franz, you cut yourself off from all the accounts at once as well.
Please also check our article “Top 10 Free Software to Assist You in Your Professional Development” to get more ideas about software that can help you throughout your professional career.
7. Keep Your Body Hydrated.
As mentioned in the introduction to this article, when it comes to productivity, coffee is not your friend. As an acidic beverage, it presses your body to use its own minerals to balance the acidic pH before the digested liquid can be mixed with the blood in your system. It literally drains your bones from calcium and other mineral compounds!
Moreover, not every water is good for your health. Drinkable water should ideally have a potential of hydrogen (also known as pH) higher than blood, namely higher than 7.4. Therefore, you might be inclined to test the pH of the water you drink. You can also prepare yourself a refreshing beverage by mixing water with ice, mint, and fresh lemon. It will give you much more sustainable energy than coffee!
8. Choose Foods With a Low Glycemic Index.
Similarly to beverages, you should also mind the food you choose. The glycemic index is a number that represents the relative rise in the blood glucose level two hours after consuming certain food.
To put it simply, the higher the glycemic index, the more sleepy this food will make you. Hence, it is better to avoid meals and products with a high glycemic index in the morning, before you start your working day.
Mind that the glycemic index may vary depending on how the meal is prepared. For instance, pasta cooked al dente has a low glycemic index, while over boiled pasta has an extremely high glycemic index. So, watch out for this!
9. Choose Your Optimal Working Setup.
Perhaps you prefer to work in a bathroom gown only! Anything is possible from home, so why not experiment? Your employer will only be interested in your results, not your way to get there.
10. Self-Reward Yourself After Every Smallest Milestone.
Self-administer rewards for every smallest achievement! Our brains tend to feel the rewarding shot of dopamine at the start of every project. What decides our eventual success is the ability to finish rather than start projects.
This is why it is good to condition your brain by rewarding yourself for every smallest success. It could be a movie, a piece of chocolate, a session of video gaming, et cetera. Small success — — small reward. And yet, it will do you miracles.
11. Arrange a Mastermind Group.
Don’t be alone on your way! Peer support and mutual mentoring in a peer group is the best way to make your remote work experience more satisfactory and successful. So, join forces with other remote workers and motivate each other!
You could, for example, organize a debriefing online via Zoom and share your experiences, little achievements, and bottlenecks at the end of each working day, or once per week.
Of course, you need to make sure that you don’t break the IP of your employer during these meetings… You also need to make sure that there is more collaboration than competition in your group. If you experience any toxicity, just change the group.
12. Don’t Fall For the “Toxic Productivity.”
We often have to struggle with the “toxic productivity” culture promoted by authoritative figures such as Gary Vee. The central concept of this school of thought is that you need to outwork and outlast your competition — that’s how you get successful in life.
This thinking can lead you nowhere but to burnout and depression. In fact, you should forgive yourself for unproductive days. Sometimes, it is just “not your day” to work, and that’s fine. You will waste more energy by blaming yourself for apathy and mistakes than by doing the actual work.
So, be good to yourself! If you are a couch potato who prefers to watch Netflix in your free time to sweating in the gym, so what?
Moreover, being too focused on productivity can lead to a paradox: reading and watching too much content dedicated to productivity can lead to a decrease in productivity. While watching content such as the YouTube channel by Ali Abdaal can make you feel like you are working on your productivity — while in fact, you don’t do anything else than watching YouTube!
13. Monitor Your Mental Health and Intervene When Necessary.
As research studies demonstrate, due to isolation and loneliness remote work is associated with higher mental health risks. Even those who “pursue the dream” by following Timothy Ferriss’ school of thought and embarking on a 4-hour work week (as described in his best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”), often report mental health problems.
Therefore, you need to carefully observe yourself throughout the process. If you feel that you start worrying more than usual, you might try techniques such as the “mental diet” proposed by Tony Robbins in his iconic book “Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Life.”
However, such a mental diet might be insufficient in the long term. Remember that as humans, we didn’t evolve to live and work on our own. Remote work is not natural for us. This is why we need to monitor our mental health, go for regular checkups, and disconnect from work when necessary. No shame about it.
Conclusion: How To Be Productive As a Remote Worker?
Your success as a remote worker will be proportional to your depth of knowledge about yourself. The better you know yourself, the more effective you will be at cherrypicking the strategies for self-management best for you. You need to play a little detective here and test multiple working schemes and accessories before finding your optimal settings.
Also, remember that we change over time. When we age, we use to become better decision-makers on the cost of horsepower. You just can’t work as many hours as a 45-year-old as you used to as a 25-year-old. And that’s perfectly fine as with your knowledge. You will be able to achieve more in a shorter amount of time.
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