When your home is the office, staying productive throughout the workday can be a major challenge. Regardless of how many Red Bulls you have, maintaining a consistent high work output isn’t easy. However, when you work for yourself and your next paycheck is determined on how hard you work, being productive is imperative. Fortunately, there are some scientifically proven methods that can help you focus more throughout the day so that you get as much work done as possible.
Check out some of my favorite tips for significantly improving your productivity…
1. Determine Your Most Productive Hours
One of the best ways to harness your productive powers is to figure out what are your peak hours. These hours are when you are most likely to be functioning at your best and you’ll be able to complete tasks with no problem at all. During the hours when you’re likely to be more productive, you can focus on the most important tasks of the day. For me, it’s in the morning after a workout. Post exercising, listening to workout jams and pushing myself physically, I like to wind down in my quiet office with a protein shake and I am good to go. The next couple of hours I am laser focused.
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One way to figure out what your most productive hours are is to use the Ultrian Rhythm method. This method suggests that the human brain can only focus 90 to 120 minutes at a time. In between these time blocks you should take a small break between 15-20 minutes before you begin refocusing on working.
Also, keeping track of the time of day when your energy levels are high and when you are most motivated and able to focus, can be helpful. This can be done by spending a couple of weeks journaling these time slots.
2. Cut Down On MultiTasking
Recent studies have shown that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%. While we may love to think that we can do it all, the truth is that no one is Superman and working on many different tasks at one time can be detrimental. Research has shown that constantly switching between tasks can significantly increase the time it takes to get things done. When you focus on one task at a time you’ll find that you’re better able to put a dent in your workload. In addition, multitasking can result in costly errors. Instead of burning yourself out by attempting to have your “hand in several pots” at one time, try focusing on one thing at a time before moving on to the next task.
3. Take Breaks
While it may seem counterproductive, taking 15-20 minute breaks from your projects is essential for staying focused throughout the workday. A 1999 study conducted by Cornell University found that when typists were prompted by their computers to stop and take a short break it resulted in a 40% boost in accurate output. Therefore, taking mini-breaks from working can improve your performance and you’re likely to do a good job on the task at hand. Even stopping and taking a 15-minute walk on your lunch break or in the afternoon before you resume working is scientifically proven to boost creativity. Yes, taking breaks allows you to recharge so that you’ll be motivated and able to focus on the tasks you have to complete. Breaks can be good for you both physically and mentally. Make sure you plan each break beforehand. Avoid scheduling them for long periods of time.
4. Turn Up the Radio
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you can do whatever you want and that includes playing your favorite tunes. A study conducted by an instructor at the University of Miami found that listening to music had a positive effect on work performance. The study participants that listened to music while working were able to work much faster than those who didn’t and they also had better ideas to contribute.
If you’re worried about getting distracted by words you can try listening to classical or meditation music. I actually discovered this while I was in High school. Jazz came on the radio and it was the first time I immediately started and completed my algebra homework in record time. From then on, jazz and algebra went hand in hand.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Of course, a lack of sleep can have a big impact on your work performance even if you are working from home in your pajamas. In 2010 the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who suffered from insomnia or who often didn’t get adequate sleep were less productive and they had poor time management skills. Sleep deprived employees were less motivated and had trouble focusing and remembering to complete tasks. This affected their ability to make sound decisions. Getting your full eight hours of sleep can very well determine if you’re able to take on the next workday.
To what extent has poor sleep effected your concentration or productivity at work?
6. Switch Up Your Work Location
Did you know that the human brain is constantly searching for new and exciting things? When we found something exciting and refreshingly unique our body releases a flood of dopamine, which makes us feel happy and motivated. Working in the same spot at the same desk every day can be boring. Changing your work location once in a while can help get your creative juices flowing and improve your ability to concentrate. If you’re used to working from your home office or living room trying setting up shop at your favorite coffee shop a couple of days out of the week.
7. Create A To-Do List
At the beginning of each workday, you should create a list of all the tasks that you must complete. This is especially important if you have a lot of work to do. Based on research, having a to-do list can help reduce work related stress and anxiety. Also, having a list eliminates the risk of forgetting to do something. Tasks should be listed in order of importance. As you complete each task be sure to check it off the list. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to clearly see what you have accomplished. I discovered that Asana really helps keep my tasks in line.
Overall, taking care of yourself physically and mentally will put you in the position to be able to get more work done. Try the TWIT. The success of your business relies on your ability to efficiently complete projects and make moves in a timely manner. Following some of these tips can help you tackle your bouts of unproductive streaks and help boost your motivation.