The world of work and careers has changed so drastically over the past couple of years. There has been such a dramatic shift from a “clock-in, clock-out 9-5” lifestyle to something much more flexible. We have seen TONS of opportunities to work from home and create your own schedule, which has helped us achieve better work-life balance and create a lifestyle that values quality of work over time spent. This is all great news for those of us who were never able to feel satisfied in the corporate world, but without the structure of a 9-5 that we had before, it can be difficult to accomplish all of the tasks in a day without getting distracted by dishes in the sink or dogs begging for attention or a mid-day nap that is calling for you.
As a team that works remote, we have each discovered ways that help us get the most out of our work day so we can put work aside for free time in the evenings. But even if you’re not working from home, give these techniques a try and watch how fast you start checking things off your to-do list!
1. Make a prioritized to-do list
At the beginning of the day, we always map out what work needs to get done and which items are the most important for us to accomplish for the day. Usually we choose 3-4 big tasks to prioritize. These are our non-negotiables for the day - meaning things that MUST be done before we stop working for the day. Once we finish these things, we move on to the less urgent matters if we have time. Even if you structure your to-do list differently, we still urge you to write one. It can feel so rewarding to physically check off your tasks for the day as you complete them, as well as being able to look back on the list at the end of the day at everything you were able to accomplish!
2. Time block
This is a technique that you’ve probably heard of. Time blocking is setting aside portions of time in your day to complete specific tasks. And while this practice has recently become very popular as a time management tool, there are endless ways to implement it into your work routine. Writing about the different methods of time blocking could be a whole separate post on its own (let us know if that’s something you’re interested in). For now, we will just say that the different ways that we’ve included this into our work days has made a world of difference in productivity. We would encourage you to simply Google “time blocking” and explore some of the techniques to try.
3. Minimize distractions
There are many different distractions that pop up during a day of working from home. When you work from home, it is a much different environment than showing up to the office where everyone else around you is hard at work with their own tasks. It’s important for you to try to create your own working environment within your home so you aren’t in the mindset of resting and relaxing that a home usually promotes. Try to find a space within your home that sets a tone of productivity - somewhere that you won’t get distracted by the temptation of your bed or a sink full of dirty dishes. Turn off the TV. Leave your phone on silent in another room. The more you can create a work zone and atmosphere for yourself within your home, the easier it will be to stay away from distractions and maximize productivity.
Transitioning from the corporate world of a 9-5 to a more malleable schedule of working from home can be tough. It takes a lot of practice and self-discipline. But don’t be too hard on yourself when you do succumb to that mid-day nap or take a break to do the dishes. We are human and we aren’t perfect. And sometimes taking that time away from work during your day is just what you need. After all, that’s part of the benefit of being able to create your own schedule! Implementing productive work habits into your day will help you simultaneously work smarter AND harder so that wherever your time is going, you’re making it count.