We are into the last quarter of the Circuit breaker period and there are two more weeks to go before most of us can report back to work. To be really honest, I kind of enjoy my time spent at home to work, exercise, reading and cooking, so much so that I wish there will be more of such circuit breakers in future.
But that’s not to say that every single day is productive for me. On some days, I just wanted to watch random YouTube videos and kill time on the internet by not having to think about work or anything else. On those days, I felt listless and by the end of the day, I felt so unaccomplished and lament about how time flies. Upon some reflection, I realised that it was because I did not plan anything for that day. As an adult, I thought I could get away with routines because I thought I had self-discipline and was great at managing my time. However, it does not turn out to be the case.
The true key to being productive at work or at home is as simple as to pen down the tasks for that day. Then, look at your to-do list again and improve on your to-do list for the next day. Besides planning ahead of time, I’ve also incorporated some good work habits which help me to stay productive. Here are my 7 useful tips on how to make your day more productive than before.
1. Wake up early and stretch
Having a good morning routine is important because it not only preps you for the day but it also makes you look forward to waking up. What do you look forward to every day? Make your mornings relaxing and enjoyable with coffee, tea, eggs or whatever that makes you happy.
For me, I enjoy doing yoga and drinking green smoothies for breakfast so these are the first two things I will do in the morning. And to get myself out of bed, I left my curtains drawn open so as to allow the sunlight to stream in and naturally wake my body up. By 8.30 am, I will be out of bed feeling awake and energised, regardless of how late I slept the night before.
The daily morning yoga or stretching sessions have also helped boost my energy levels. It can be as short as a 10-minute stretch or exercise to prep you for the day. I usually watch Sarah Beth Yoga’s yoga videos because it is easy to follow to her instructions and they are usually pretty short – like 15 or 20 minutes. After I am done with some exercise, I would head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast and then start work.
2. Schedule your day the night before
You could write down your to-do list at the start of each day but I prefer to do it the night before. By doing so, I am more mentally prepared to start a brand new day and motivated to wake up the next morning to get things done.
I would also strike out the list of things I’ve accomplished for the day and find ways to work out a better schedule or work routine for the next day. The to-do list you’ve created does not need to be very precise. I just wrote down the exact task I need to do in my bullet journal without any specific timing indicated.
3. Complete the most important or difficult task first
I found this tip especially useful because I like to pack my day with things to do but I could not accomplish all of them. For instance, I set a personal goal for myself to do daily bible study but sometimes I got distracted during the day and only read my bible towards the end of the day. Thus, I decided to schedule my bible study session right after breakfast. Things got so much better and because I was more mentally alert in the morning, I could study the bible more efficiently.
4. Take short breaks or naps if necessary
Listen to your body and do occasionally get out of your seat to drink some water or take a short walk around your neighbourhood. Will not take this time to play with your kids or call up a friend for a quick chat to check how things are?
For me, I will sneak in short breaks to do some housework or read a book. If I am really tired, I would take a short nap and then continue with work.
5. Create a personal distraction-free space
When working from home, I try to put my phone away unless I need it for work. And I will also refrain from checking my Facebook or Instagram account. Try your best not to scroll through social media app like TikTok. It may be entertaining to watch others dance or do crazy stuff but it doesn’t increase your productivity.
If possible, set up a work desk space where you can work quietly on your own without your distraction from your family members. Set boundaries and zones where you have some personal space to yourself for work.
You may even want to listen to some lo-fi music to drown out any background noises if it is causing you to be distracted. I find it so much easier to work or study while listening to some music.
6. Don’t rush to complete or spend too much time working on one task
Try to breakdown your work or assignment into bite-sized tasks and spread them out through out the week. Avoid spending too much time working on one task even if it is difficult to complete it. You can always complete the next day. It is better to work on it another day because for all you know, you might have new inspirations for your project the very next day.
7. Appreciate the fact that you can stay home and stay safe.
Be grateful if you still have a job and family to spend time with at home. Based on some of the Facebook polls I’ve seen, most of us find that our family relationships have improved during this period of time. We spend more time at home and show care for each other. Even though I am not living with my parents, I do try to stay in touch with them via messages and calls. It is during this unprecedented time when we start to be more introspective and appreciate what God has already blessed us with.
We thank the healthcare workers and those working in the essential business to allow us to stay safe, comfortable and productive at home during this pandemic.
How do you stay productive at work or at home? Let me know in the comment box below!