Being able to work from your own personal computer whether in an office or from home is the best thing that’s happened to business. I can work in a car, on a train, in the sky, eating green eggs and ham. The sky’s the limit… literally!
The problem arises when you think about how distracting your computer is. There’s social media, news websites, personal emails, phone calls, and the list goes on. But all of these things don’t have to be thought of as distractions or get in the way of our productivity every day.
Here are some simple tricks to stay productive when you’re stuck behind a desk.
Make your homepage your email
It’s a simple and easy thing to do but if your homepage is your work email, then you’re not opening Google News every time you open a window and falling into the black hole of the media world. Also, make sure your ‘New Tab’ default page is either blank or a Google Search page… something that won’t distract you more than your 25 tabs do!
Set aside 15 minute trash times
I call my distraction times ‘Trash Times.’ I make sure to look at the clock when I first log on and give myself 15 minutes to check social, personal email, read The Skimm, etc. I use Toggl to track my time for the various companies I work for so I literally just turn my time tracker on and can see when I’m at 15 minutes. I also do this at lunch for a bit longer as I eat. This is when I read most of the articles and other stuff I see throughout the day.
And don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself checking your Facebook or personal email without thinking about it. If your brain needs a break it will drift off so you should give it a break. I’d rather spend 10 minutes not thinking about anything scrolling through Instagram than an extra 30 minutes on the project I’m working on because I can’t focus.
Turn your phone on do not disturb (if you can)
All of my meetings are usually planned and set up on my calendar. And if they aren’t, then a client honestly shouldn’t be able to interrupt me in my train of thought for a quick, unscheduled call. That derails me up to 20 minutes making me have to go back to what I’m doing after the call and get back into the mindset of where I was.
Of course, some people rely on their cell phones to talk to clients and can’t do this. But there are other options!
Get Cold Turkey
Another option is going ‘Cold Turkey’ by downloading this Cold Turkey software. I don’t use it all the time but when I’m in a time crunch, need to be really in the zone, or I find myself wandering off more than usual I’ll turn it on. It’s honestly such a great service, especially if you don’t think any of these other options will work for you. And even if you just use it for a week or two and decide to turn it off, you’ll find that your habits have changed.
Find out when you’re most productive
I’m most productive in the morning and at night, not so much in the afternoons. I have my to-do list that I make in the morning and I zoom through it in the morning. After lunch however I find myself slowing down a little. So I plan my tasks around my productivity schedule. I try to keep meetings to the afternoon and tasks to the morning and evening. I can sit through meetings and still be creative and energetic in the afternoons, I just don’t get actual tasks done as quickly so that’s why I schedule meetings for afternoons.
I also work out in the afternoon, usually around 3 or 3:30. This is a luxury of being able to work from home and don’t think most office folks can get away with it, but it’s a total boost for me. I feel refreshed and my brain is reset. So finding out when you’re most productive and what you want to do during those peak productivity times is important.
Find what works for you! You can read 100 productivity tips and try them all and maybe 1 or 2 will work for you. Every person is different! So go ahead and try a few out and find what works!