I am one of those people that wake up every day with my to-do list already written the day before or I have it in my brain. I am great until about 1 p.m, usually after lunch, then the bed in my “office” starts to look very inviting. The problem is I can only do so much from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. I need to work a few hours in the evening or afternoon.
I am not a doctor, psychologist or life coach even though I played a talk show host once at a dinner theater. I learned some productivity hacks by trial and error how to not crash after lunch and actually get things done—like my blog posts for my sites!
- Watch your diet. It’s just science that a heavy lunch will cause you to be sluggish, especially if you suffer from a chronic disease like diabetes. Try a lower carb option like a salad instead of that all-you-can Chinese buffet. Some people eat a large breakfast and skip lunch, something that has actually worked for me.
- Watch your caffeine. I get up at 5:30 every day. Most days, I only drink a caffeinated drink at this point of my day. Then…
- Drink more water. It’s easier than you think to get dehydrated, trust me. And I always just feel better when I drink more water.
- Do “administrative” or non-creative task in the early afternoon. I find it easier to muddle through tasks such as answering emails or planning social media campaigns when I am sluggish than trying to write an article or blog.
- Take a break. I am lucky to be self-employed and be able to make my own schedule. A couple of days a week my schedule may look like 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. than 3 p.m. until I am finished.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? How do you remain productive no matter what time of day it is?
I am not a fan of summer’s hot temperatures but summer does mean baseball. But baseball also means I get distracted looking up the starting pitchers for the Atlanta Braves or the latest stats on Freddie Freeman.
Honestly, baseball is not my only distraction. And let’s be honest. We all lose focus occasionally (or once a day). Nearly everyone gets drawn into social media. Oh, and don’t forget the email panic where you check every 15 minutes just in case you have a note from a potential client.
But those are not even my biggest distractions. I do a lot of research. Let’s say I am researching bird of North America. I see that a bird is a native of a place I have thought would be a great spot for a vacation. My bird research leads to more personal research about a vacation destination. I waste 15 minutes before I snap back to reality. But hey, I am great at trivia!
So how do you overcome it? The truth is, you may never have a day when you are not distracted at least once or twice. But I have found some ways that work for me.
- Work blocks–I have written about this before but it is a part of how I stay focused. I set aside a certain amount of time for each task I do. If I know I must complete a task in an hour, I am less likely to wonder to la-la land for 20 minutes.
- When I need to be online, I only keep the tabs relevant to what I am working on active. I don’t want to know if an email is coming in or if I have a Facebook notification.
- I work at home so it’s not just online distractions that can complicate my life. I often turn off my phone or hand it to my husband. I keep the door to my “office” closed for many tasks. I also have my desk facing a window and I have a group of birds and squirrels that love to put on a show for me every day. Sadly, some days I lower the blinds. I also try to limit personal conversations, even with the husband, during the work day.
Finally, if you have been around me you know I am a planner and a list maker. I always try to complete my to-do-list. And I try to reach the weekly goals outlined on my calendars.
This all sounds so easy but it is hard to do. How do you keep yourself from getting distracted?
I purposely positioned my desk in front of the window so I can raise it most mornings and listen to the birds sing. A woodpecker joined the tunes today. The sound of the train through my little town provided some background music every hour or so.
Among the robins, sparrows and blue jays, two cardinals were playing in the trees. The cardinals are my favorite birds because they represent so many things—faith, vitality and creativity. Some say they represent loved ones who have passed away. This thought gives me comfort that my parents are free and playful as the birds.
I am not writing about very exciting subjects today. But the inspiration outside my window is priceless.
I am a child of the 70s and 80s and I remember when I dreamed about working in a city, wearing cute clothes and eating at trendy restaurants.
Flash forward to 2017 and my dreams are about working at home, wearing my pajamas and eating mac and cheese for breakfast. Add in some trips to interesting small towns, the Smoky Mountains and maybe a big city or two and you have described my ideal life.
In today’s society, working from home has become a career goal not only for moms with young children but for people who hate fighting traffic or who just don’t like having to deal with office politics or boring meetings. I work at home only part-time. I have a full-time broadcasting gig that I get up very early to do so most days I am home by 2 p.m. For 18 months in the late 2000s, working at home was my only source of income. I have found that I have a routine I follow no matter how many hours I work.
- I wear pajamas or something equally comfortable. Even on non-freelance days, I put on my pajamas as soon as I come home. The only exception is if we have plans for a short time later.
- I always put my computer in front of a window or facing outdoors. Years ago I had a desk on my back porch. Those were the days. My current view may not be the most scenic but I like it.
- I tend to work in blocks of time. I have a difficult time sitting for long periods of time. The longest I will sit is about two hours. A four-hour work day usually consists of an hour and 15 to 20 minutes at a time with 10 to 30-minute breaks. While it turns four hours of work into a six-hour stretch, I am more productive this way.
- I keep the door shut when I don’t want to be disturbed. If I am researching an article or pitching clients, the door is open. When I am writing, it’s almost always closed. My family has learned to only contact me in dire emergencies. Problems with Netflix, opening a package or taking clothes out of the dryer are not dire emergencies!
Finally, get the image of home workers basking in their filth out of your head. One thing I do every day is shower. When I was working at home full-time there may have been several days when I didn’t put on shoes but my feet were clean. For me, taking a shower officially started my day.
If you work at home, what are your routines?