Working from home can be fun given the freedom it gives. We can start working at 10 a.m. or even later. We can work in pajamas and slippers. But with freedom comes responsibility. Sometimes, we find ourselves mindlessly clicking through links and then realize we’ve wasted hours of not-working. So how can we use our time more wisely and work effectively? Here are five tips to follow.
1. Set priorities
Write down important tasks you need to do that day. List them from the most important to the less important ones. If you think everything is important, then none of them is. Rewrite your list, starting from the most urgent to ones you can work on later. Work on assignments with the closest deadlines or work on the easiest task first so you’ll have enough energy to work on more laborious ones.
You can write down your list on a piece of paper or you may want to use online applications such as todoist or Remember The Milk. Both applications will send you notifications about planned schedule or delayed tasks. Remember not to cramp your list with too many tasks. Know your limit. Don’t feel ashamed to only have two or three tasks in the list, because really, it’s only you who know how much time it takes for doing a certain work.
Once you’ve finished a task, cross it out. It may be small thing, but it will give you a little boost of encouragement to move on to the next task.
2. Minimize distraction
If you’re living with a roommate, let them know what you’re doing so they can become more understanding. Close the door, sign out of all your social media networking sites, and if possible, turn off your cellphone(s). If you have a baby, you can work after they sleep. If you live in crowded neighborhood, find the quietest time or get a pair of earplugs. Depending on your situations, it may not be possible to get rid of all distractions. Try to reduce them so you can focus better on the task and finish your work immediately.
If you’re a writer, there are several applications you can use to block distractions.
3. Turn off self-critic
How can we focus on doing a task, if someone keeps criticizing us when we’re working? If it’s another person, we can politely ask them to leave, but what if that “someone” is ourselves?
Shut down your inner critic so you can work better. This is by no means an excuse to work sloppily and produce a bad result. It means not being too perfectionist that we try to improve everything that works fine. Write the first draft, leave it alone for several hours, then come back to it and start editing. Do not write and edit at the same time as it will only hinder the flow of ideas and you’ll also lose a lot of time doing it.
Remember that there’s no “perfect work” because every work can always be improved in one way or another. When we’re sure our work is presentable, we can send it to our clients or publish it.
4. Don’t delay
Still relates to the previous point, being perfectionist can lead us into becoming a procrastinator. Since we think our work is not good enough, we’re tempted to do a series of unnecessary improvements. We may even miss the deadline, as a result.
Whenever possible, work on the assignment as it arrives. Because we don’t know what may happen tomorrow. Our computer might break, the printer may not work, for instances. Also, since finishing a task can give us a peace of mind, why not do it promptly? Once it’s done, we’ll have more time to finish the next task or to do other things.
5. Take a break
Frequent short breaks are recommended to keep our mind sharp. Podomoro technique suggests us to take a five minute break for every 25 minutes work (podomoro) and a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes after four sessions of podomoro. Use this break to do any activities which not related to work, such as taking a walk or meditating.
Do not forget to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated since even mild dehydration affects your mood and cognitive process. Dehydration causes concentration difficulty and it will slow you down.
Do you have other tips that are not mentioned in this article? What are your favorite tips to work from home effectively?