How to be productive at home and make every day a productive day

By Mihret Amdu Yirgeta, April 6 2021—

This past year has been hard on all of us and it has made being productive incredibly difficult. Doing online classes and essentially creating our own schedules can be a serious problem. We cannot be falling behind on schoolwork and other obligations because we are procrastinating or “just not feeling it today.” Now if you are anything like me, getting up in the morning and doing work without external pressure is not the easiest thing in the world. I often deal with thoughts like, “I should just ignore everything and watch Netflix today. Who’s going to stop me?” To stop myself from becoming a sloth, I had to develop some habits to help me get into a productive mindset. So, without further ado, here are my tips and tricks to starting a productive day.

Have a consistent wake-up time

This one is incredibly important. Having a consistent wake-up time helps with two things:

First, waking up at the same time every day trains your brain to think “alright, I now need to get ready to work.” Waking up at different times does not give us that sense of structure in our day to develop good habits. Plus, on your off days, sleeping in signals your brain to relax.

Second, it helps with maintaining a proper sleep schedule. If you know what time you are going to wake up every morning, then you will know what time to sleep every night to have a good night’s rest — the recommended amount is 7–9 hours every night. Additionally, knowing what time you wake up and what time you go to sleep means you know exactly how many hours you have in the day to do everything you need to do. Good scheduling practices all around!

Make your bed

I read this somewhere and I was very skeptical at first, but it works. Making your bed first thing in the morning is quick and easy and you’d start your day off with an accomplishment. This is rewarding and signals your brain that you can accomplish many more tasks during the day. Plus, you’ll be saving ‘future you’ some work later on.

Make time for a workout

I know, I know, this is advice given by everyone who writes any kind of advice. But there is a reason it is recommended so often. Exercise gives you energy — it releases endorphins that make you feel happy and is a brilliant way to cope with stress. You do not have to do it for a long time either. I do either a 10-minute yoga routine or a 10-minute stretching routine — or I will do a 15-minute dance workout if I’m feeling particularly energetic. Doing some sort of a workout in the morning helps you feel more awake and reduces stress, which is a contributor to procrastination. Plus, that is one more accomplishment under your belt for the day.

Have a healthy breakfast

This is a habit my mom drilled into me. Did you know your brain uses about 20 per cent of your daily caloric intake? Your brain cannot function without sustenance, so why are you trying to make it do so? Additionally, breakfast gives you the energy to work. I find it difficult to get things done without much energy, but that could just be me. Eat something before you start working, preferably a healthy and balanced meal. Try and avoid sugary meals since your body breaks down sugar pretty quickly, causing you to crash early. Foods with starch, protein and some fibre are ideal. Google has tons of ideas for great healthy breakfast options.

Prepare a to-do list for the day’s work

Sitting down in the morning and putting together a to-do list primes your brain to start working. Having measurable goals for the day makes it more likely for you to finish a task. It is also so satisfying to cross out a task on a list — it is a tangible record of what you have achieved that day. There are tons of apps out there to help you make your list, both for mobile and desktop. I use Google Tasks and Google Calendar on my laptop to keep track of my due dates and my tasks for the day, but there are more options out there. If you are more old-school, get a planner with a calendar, do a bullet journal or just have a simple piece of paper or a small whiteboard for your tasks for the day. The satisfaction of crossing out a completed task by hand is unparalleled.

A word of caution here — make sure the tasks you put on your list are reasonable and can be done within a few hours. “I will finish the introduction to my paper today,” is a much more reasonable goal than “I will finish my entire paper today.” Unreasonable goals will only overwhelm you, stop you from getting work done and discourage you from further tasks.

Have a designated workspace

This one is not a habit exactly but it’s just as useful. Your brain gets conditioned pretty easily. If you work or use your laptop in bed a lot, your brain associates your bed with mental activity instead of sleep. Similarly, having a designated workspace means your brain associates that spot with getting work done. It makes it much easier to get started and stay focused.

In the end, most of having a productive day is in priming your brain to be productive for the day. These tips might not work for everyone and that’s alright. Everybody is different and requires different things to prime their brains. If these tips do not work for you, go and experiment with different habits until you find ones that do work and add them to your routine. Lastly, productivity is not meant to be kept up without rest — you will burn out that way. Make sure to have off days and some kind of relaxing activity at the end of the day.

How to be productive at home and make every day a productive day

It’s almost euphoric, the feeling of ticking away boxes on the to-do list, at the end of a long day. It’s like you have seized the day or something. With cell phones buzzing every minute with notifications or ringing with a large number of versatile options, it can be hard to maintain focus on your work, and be productive. Luckily with a little determination and following some tips, you can be productive, provided you either cut down on certain things or give them up altogether.

Here’s a list of twelve things you need to give up if you want to be productive.

1. Give up the unhealthy lifestyle

It’s not easy, it requires a lot of effort but remember that if your body runs on little to no sleep or a bad diet such as junk food, then only a handful of energy is left for your brain to use! These days people are so focused on saving time that they are hesitant to spend it on shopping for a healthy meal, let alone cooking it for themselves. To save time they forget the cost which is the loss of attention and focus, which they lose when they aren’t consuming the right kind of fuel for their body.

2. Give up trying to save on business tools

A good lumberjack spends 70% of the time sharpening his ax. Why? Because the quality of your tools is a deciding factor to how good your output will be as well as how efficient you will be in achieving the desired outcome. Start by picking up your bulk email service or your CRM as it is a long-term game and solving it sooner is going to save you time in the long run.

“Never mistake motion for action.” — Ernest Hemingway

3. Give up on transactional relationships

Building relationships takes a lot of time and effort. Throw in the introductory or get-to-know them phase and you have spent a lot of time. Plus, imagine spending so much time doing all that and having to let them go at the end of the month because of their incompetence. Therefore, If you are going to invest time building relationships, invest in the long term. For example, train one employee to stay with you for years instead of hiring low-paid assistants that you will have to say goodbye to in a few months.

4. Give up multitasking

Juggling way too many tasks isn’t healthy nor beneficial for your potential productive day. It will be draining and demotivating if you fail to achieve all the tasks on your list. It is the ultimate mistake of busy entrepreneurs. You think you are achieving more, while in fact, you are achieving less.

Statistics show that multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity as well as a 10% drop in IQ.

5. Give up that solo-fighter mindset

People need people to achieve goals and to aid each other in reaching desired destinations. Look around you and see that there are so many answers and solutions to your problems in your immediate circles, and even more – in your online communities. You are not alone in your battles! Give up the idea that you need to do everything by yourself and start asking for help.

6. Give up working on the weekends

Ok, let’s rephrase. You can work any day of the week. Just make sure you have a day off or a time out so that you could move your body, stir up some creativity or be social; If not for the joy of it, then at least in the name of productivity. Some CEOs advise as little, as 4-day work week for maximum productivity. Studies show that stepping outside your business gives you a much-needed perspective and allows you to come up with creative solutions. Plus, take the example of Wordsworth and other late poets who used to go out for walks when they wanted to conjure up new ideas for their masterpieces.

7. Give up working for the sake of work

Solidify the roadmap to your desired goal. Be clear about the kind of outcome you are aiming for. Take a closer look at the steps and break them down. Identify the actions which are pushing you towards your goals and those which are taking you and your time away from them.

8. Give up people-pleasing

Following the last point, get intentional about the things you say “yes” to. Does it contribute to your immediate goals? Does it help to build long-term relationships? Is there any joy in them or are they providing you with peace of mind? If none of the above then learn to say no.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney

9. Give up your social media addiction

Addiction, by definition, is something we can’t give up so easily. To curb it, firstly start by introducing a “ mindful consumption ” of social media. For example, whenever you open any application, start by asking yourself the question “What am I here to do today?” If your answer is say, engaging with your followers then say it out loud, for better effect. Once you achieved what you came to do, you can even say—out loud again— “I’ve accomplished what I came here to do.” then close it and move on to do some of your work. Take baby steps to tackle your addiction.

10. Give up the need to control

You do not need to be in control of everything let alone introduce others to your business by yourself. Work on building systems that would allow others to know the state of your business at a glance. From weekly reports, to project management tools, spend extra time developing the system, so you can save time.

11. Give up anything that has to be done more than once

By looking at everything that you are doing repeatedly, try to turn it into a system, and systems can be automated or outsourced. Unless, of course, the repeated action is something you truly enjoy.

12. Give up working without a to-do list

When you let emails, messages, and requests replace your to-do lists, you feel like you are working and checking things off. However, in reality, you aren’t progressing towards your chosen goals. Try to tick off one thing before you turn on the chats or open emails. Trust me, the feeling of accomplishing small tasks off your list is thrilling !

November 3, 2020 News

The COVID-19 has changed everything, many people are finding it difficult to get out and go to work, and provide for a family and yet we have all had to adjust to new ways of living and working.

While working from home provides a multitude of benefits, it can present a unique set of challenges. Many of us working full time remotely for the first time, isolated from co-workers, friends and family. Our daily living routines are disrupted causing added anxiety, stress and strain—physically, mentally, and financially. It is completely natural for this disruption and uncertainty to lead to anxiety and stress.

Nevertheless, we all must take care of our mental health and well-being. As we protect ourselves against potential exposure to the coronavirus, keep in mind that social distancing does not mean social isolation. This resource provides practical tips on taking care of our mental health and well-being.

As we adjusting to the new normal, Servbridge loves to give you easy tips that can help you while working at home, to feel more productive and take care of your mental health.

  1. Designate a workspace

Having a designated spot in your home where you “go to work” can result in less distraction, deeper focus, and get things done. Have all the equipment you need to hand and ensure that you’ve got enough room to work comfortably.

Some places that can work nicely could be near the window, kitchen counter, the dining room table, or in a spot with ample natural light.

If possible, avoid working in your bedroom. Because your body and mind associate that room with sleep. Mixing the personal with professional can interfere with your ability to relax later on.

  1. Take breaks

It is important to set boundaries between our home is our office to find work-life balance.

By taking some regular breaks at your own pace, you can boost your productivity and help manage feelings of stress – try to take lunch and regular screen breaks. Give yourself time to concentrate on something else so you feel more focused when you return. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help your productivity too.

You also can set a time to go for a walk, run or bike ride for some fresh air, or a coffee – while keeping social distancing guidance when outside your home.

  1. Set and stick to a routine

This one can be a challenge, but keeping meeting schedules and regular calls with your team can help you maintain a regular work schedule. Without steady schedules, the lines between work and personal time can get blurred and be stressful to get right.

Follow your normal sleep and work patterns if you can, and stay consistent. Importantly, when your workday stops, stop working. And at the end of the day, try to get to bed at your usual time.

  1. Keep socializing & stay connected

Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected to co-workers, family, and friends. Socializing is just as important when working remotely as it is in the traditional workplace — maybe even more so.

Make time to socialize virtually, as your colleagues probably feel the same as us. Ask how they’re doing and whether there are ways you can support each other – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as our own.

  1. Design your workplace

Personalizing your workspace in ways that you may not be able to in your corporate office can be fun and a good mental exercise to help you relax.

Add some joyful items to liven up your home office and create an enjoyable environment: a plant, stack of books, your favorite art or photos, or scented candles – as a reminder that better days will come.

Listen to music & match to the energy of the project you’re working on. Classical, jazz, meditation, and video game music and sounds of nature have positive effects on work.

If you’re working from home, you will notice that there are specific challenges and advantages to having a home office and being a remote employee. But even if you go to the office every day and you work as a freelancer on the side, it’s still important to have a good environment, which allows you to have fun and stay productive at the same time while you’re working from home. In this article, we have picked top tips to help you stay productive and have fun while you’re working remotely.

How to be productive at home and make every day a productive day

Play Games

Getting a proper break is also important to stay productive. There is plenty of state–of–the–art games that you can play on your mobile devices or your laptop. Based on your taste, you can play something challenging like memory games, or just have fun by playing hyper-casual games.

In case you enjoy playing games of chance you don’t even need to leave your desk to play online casino games. There are many reputable casino sites for Indian players like this online casino in India which offers a variety of high-quality casino games by some of the best providers like Evolution Gaming, IGT, Pragmatic Play, and many others.

So, you can try your luck and have fun by playing roulette, baccarat, slots, poker, and many other casino games in different variations. Plus, there are many great live casino games, that deliver a realistic gaming experience. In case you want to play for fun, you can find most of the casino games in demo mode.

Set-Up a Home Office

The main problem with working from home is the lack of clear boundaries between your personal and professional life. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a separate room specifically for work or a so-called home office and a lot of people have their designated workspace in the living room or their bedroom.

This can make working from home less productive and definitely less fun especially if you have a lot of distractions in your area. However, setting up a home office, just for your work, can certainly improve your workflow and help you stay on track. So, you can invest in good office chairs, stationery, desk, notebooks, and anything else that helps you stay focused in your work environment.

Spend Time With a Friend

When you’re working from home you might lack that socialization you had when you were working in an office setting. And if you live alone, this definitely can be amplified. A good idea is to use your break to have a video chat with your friends or colleagues, for example.

So, take some time to reach out to a family member, or a female, male friend that you haven’t heard from in a while. If you live next to your friends you can use your break to have a coffee with them or take a walk around the neighborhood.

Listen to Great Music

Music is essential for creating a productive atmosphere. You can put on music that doesn’t have lyrics if you get easily distracted. For example, instrumental music, classical music, or you can use a playlist from a reputable source like Spotify, BBC Radio, and listen to anything else that piques your interest.

In case you miss working with colleagues, it can be beneficial for you to turn on the radio, and listen to your favorite radio shows, because, that also gives you a feeling that you are working with other people. Lastly, you can make your own playlist with your favorite sounds, that will help you have fun, or stay motivated, and focused on your tasks.

By Mihret Amdu Yirgeta, April 6 2021—

This past year has been hard on all of us and it has made being productive incredibly difficult. Doing online classes and essentially creating our own schedules can be a serious problem. We cannot be falling behind on schoolwork and other obligations because we are procrastinating or “just not feeling it today.” Now if you are anything like me, getting up in the morning and doing work without external pressure is not the easiest thing in the world. I often deal with thoughts like, “I should just ignore everything and watch Netflix today. Who’s going to stop me?” To stop myself from becoming a sloth, I had to develop some habits to help me get into a productive mindset. So, without further ado, here are my tips and tricks to starting a productive day.

Have a consistent wake-up time

This one is incredibly important. Having a consistent wake-up time helps with two things:

First, waking up at the same time every day trains your brain to think “alright, I now need to get ready to work.” Waking up at different times does not give us that sense of structure in our day to develop good habits. Plus, on your off days, sleeping in signals your brain to relax.

Second, it helps with maintaining a proper sleep schedule. If you know what time you are going to wake up every morning, then you will know what time to sleep every night to have a good night’s rest — the recommended amount is 7–9 hours every night. Additionally, knowing what time you wake up and what time you go to sleep means you know exactly how many hours you have in the day to do everything you need to do. Good scheduling practices all around!

Make your bed

I read this somewhere and I was very skeptical at first, but it works. Making your bed first thing in the morning is quick and easy and you’d start your day off with an accomplishment. This is rewarding and signals your brain that you can accomplish many more tasks during the day. Plus, you’ll be saving ‘future you’ some work later on.

Make time for a workout

I know, I know, this is advice given by everyone who writes any kind of advice. But there is a reason it is recommended so often. Exercise gives you energy — it releases endorphins that make you feel happy and is a brilliant way to cope with stress. You do not have to do it for a long time either. I do either a 10-minute yoga routine or a 10-minute stretching routine — or I will do a 15-minute dance workout if I’m feeling particularly energetic. Doing some sort of a workout in the morning helps you feel more awake and reduces stress, which is a contributor to procrastination. Plus, that is one more accomplishment under your belt for the day.

Have a healthy breakfast

This is a habit my mom drilled into me. Did you know your brain uses about 20 per cent of your daily caloric intake? Your brain cannot function without sustenance, so why are you trying to make it do so? Additionally, breakfast gives you the energy to work. I find it difficult to get things done without much energy, but that could just be me. Eat something before you start working, preferably a healthy and balanced meal. Try and avoid sugary meals since your body breaks down sugar pretty quickly, causing you to crash early. Foods with starch, protein and some fibre are ideal. Google has tons of ideas for great healthy breakfast options.

Prepare a to-do list for the day’s work

Sitting down in the morning and putting together a to-do list primes your brain to start working. Having measurable goals for the day makes it more likely for you to finish a task. It is also so satisfying to cross out a task on a list — it is a tangible record of what you have achieved that day. There are tons of apps out there to help you make your list, both for mobile and desktop. I use Google Tasks and Google Calendar on my laptop to keep track of my due dates and my tasks for the day, but there are more options out there. If you are more old-school, get a planner with a calendar, do a bullet journal or just have a simple piece of paper or a small whiteboard for your tasks for the day. The satisfaction of crossing out a completed task by hand is unparalleled.

A word of caution here — make sure the tasks you put on your list are reasonable and can be done within a few hours. “I will finish the introduction to my paper today,” is a much more reasonable goal than “I will finish my entire paper today.” Unreasonable goals will only overwhelm you, stop you from getting work done and discourage you from further tasks.

Have a designated workspace

This one is not a habit exactly but it’s just as useful. Your brain gets conditioned pretty easily. If you work or use your laptop in bed a lot, your brain associates your bed with mental activity instead of sleep. Similarly, having a designated workspace means your brain associates that spot with getting work done. It makes it much easier to get started and stay focused.

In the end, most of having a productive day is in priming your brain to be productive for the day. These tips might not work for everyone and that’s alright. Everybody is different and requires different things to prime their brains. If these tips do not work for you, go and experiment with different habits until you find ones that do work and add them to your routine. Lastly, productivity is not meant to be kept up without rest — you will burn out that way. Make sure to have off days and some kind of relaxing activity at the end of the day.

My philosophy on productivity is this . . .

It’s not about how much you can get done in a day. It’s about how you can become more engaged in what you are doing.

When I’m more focused on simply getting things done, I find myself feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and exhausted. And no matter how many things I’m able to cross off my to-do list, more to-do’s keep cropping up like bunnies. So I’m never released from the anxiety of unfinished business.

However, when you are engaged in what you are doing, while you are doing it, you are naturally productive. You are focused on the task at hand with full attention, and you are relieved (at least temporarily) of the stress and pressure of checking things off the list.

Focusing on the task at hand, however, is not always so easy. Our monkey minds want to distract us, our eyes want to dart to our list, our ears hear the ding of texts and the blip of an email coming in.

Simply the noises, the things we see in our peripheral vision, the creeping thoughts of projects awaiting us, is enough to tighten our chests and fill us with low-level anxiety. And of course, these feelings make us less focused, less engaged, and less productive.

If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, we know that most of the pressure we put on ourselves to “get it all done” is self-created. Will the world fall apart if we don’t get everything done today? Will we be lazy and weak people if we accomplish less than we set out to? Will we really lose clients or get fired if we finish the project tomorrow instead of today?

I’m not suggesting we blow off our important tasks or procrastinate. But I am suggesting we get comfortable with the idea of doing less each day, but with more intentionality and engagement.

Not only will this make us more productive (because we aren’t distracted or anxious), but also we can actually savor and enjoy what we are doing. And when we enjoy what we are doing, we do it more efficiently and thoroughly. We produce higher quality work. We are fully present. We are open to creativity and insight.

So how can we foster this “engaged productivity” in our lives in the face of our monkey minds, our distractions, and our low-level urgency anxiety?

Here are five simple things you can do to make your day more productive.

1. Set 3-5 daily goals

Don’t write a long list of 101 things to get done before noon. Set 3-5 non-negotiable goals for the day. That doesn’t mean you may not get more done. But take the pressure off to cram in as much as possible. If your goals involve many steps and longer time (ie: working on a marketing plan, creating a budget, writing a blog post), then just give yourself 3 tasks. If they are smaller and require less time (replying to emails, doing some research, etc.), then allow yourself five.

2. Budget time

Decide how much time you need or want to spend on each goal. Be realistic in what you can achieve if you are deeply focused on the tasks involved. Then pad the time with an extra 30-60 minutes. You may not need it, but you won’t feel rushed and pressured. Set a time when you begin working on the goal. If you aren’t finished, decide if you want to move on to the next goal or if completing the one you are working on is more important.

3. Remove distractions

How to be productive at home and make every day a productive dayBefore you begin your first task, clear your desk, shut done all extraneous browsers on your computer, turn off your phone, and close your door. Don’t tempt yourself with anything that will catch your eye or ear or pull your thoughts away from what you are doing.

This is hard to do, but it is the most important step in this list. Distractions will kill productivity. Look at all of the distractions on my desk this morning. I had to clear it completely before I began writing this post.

4. Allow breaks and rewards

If you have a hard time focusing in general, even without distractions, break down your goal or task into 15-minute intervals. Set a timer and work steadily for 15 minutes, then take a 5-minute break and reward yourself with something that won’t pull you away from the task (no emails, phone calls, texts, etc.). Stand up and stretch. Close your eyes and breathe. Look out the window. Jog in place. Use the restroom (without stopping to talk).

Between each of your daily goals, give yourself bigger breaks where you can grab a bite to eat, check emails, reply to calls, etc. But set a timer for these as well. You can use extra time at the end of the day to finish them.

5. Close the day strong

After you finish the final task, review the work you have done on each of them. If you had to stop short on one of them, go back and continue the work so you feel confident and complete with what you focused on today. If there’s remaining time in the day, pick one more priority task and follow the same steps above. Keep adding priority tasks until you are ready to be done for the day.

By choosing fewer goals each day and focusing on them intently, you will find you are far more productive and successful with your work and life. You’ll feel more in control of your time, your priorities, and your state of mind.

Do you want some support in achieving your daily goals so you can use the last 100 days of the year to make something really big happen in your life? Today marks the launch of the 100-Day Challenge, a program that will help you achieve great things in the remaining 3 months of the year. Finish strong!

Click the banner below to learn more.

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Working from home seems great — but can also be a productivity nightmare.

How to be productive at home and make every day a productive day

Working from home has its perks — but it can be bad news for productivity.

As the list of companies mandating employees to work from home to stop the spread of coronavirus grows, you might be wondering just exactly how you can stay sane if it happens to you. The panic over coronavirus is already stressful enough, and the last thing you want to worry about is how to Zoom call your manager — and whether your Wi-Fi can actually handle it.

But alas, as the coronavirus outbreak shows no signs of slowing down, you could soon be in that position. Let me let you in on a little secret — as someone who’s been working from home full-time for nearly two years now, it’s not all PJs and Netflix like you might imagine. In fact, working from home is sometimes more difficult than not. There can be days when you’re distracted or interrupted every 10 seconds by family members or housemates. Or household chores like laundry or dishes could call your name while emails pour into your inbox.

Working from home has its perks — you can work in sweatpants if you want, there’s no commute time and sometimes you can be more focused and efficient. But you’ll make the most of it if you approach the day intentionally. Below are some of my best tips for working from home while staying sane and productive.

Get all the latest on the coronavirus that’s now been declared a pandemic.

Working in bed is not ideal when it comes to productivity.

Avoid working in bed

I don’t always follow this rule, to be honest. Sometimes I open my eyes, grab a coffee and immediately begin writing my latest article. But if you start working in bed you’ll likely get sleepy or have a hard time feeling truly awake. Instead, get up and make your bed first thing in the morning, just like any other day. Avoid the urge to work in your bedroom at all, unless that’s the only space where you have privacy.

If you do have to work in bed, whatever you can do to create a sense of “going to work” will help you. That means changing out of your PJs, washing your face, getting coffee — whatever makes you feel awake, do that first. Once you start working, sit up and avoid working in your bed if you’re exhausted.

It’s a good idea to treat your bedroom as a sacred space — where you only go to sleep or relax. Once it becomes your office, you’ll find it hard to avoid thinking about work 24/7. Try to set up a workspace somewhere else, even if that’s the kitchen or dining table. If you’re lucky enough to have the space, maybe you could work from a spare bedroom or home office.

Try to work from a space free of distractions if you can help it.

Avoid working where you’ll be tempted or distracted

One of the keys to successfully working from home is to pretend you’re at an office. Would you stop to do laundry, watch Netflix or do the dishes if you were on the clock at work? Probably not. So don’t work somewhere that will tempt or distract you — that means don’t work with a TV on, and if laundry or dishes are calling your name, avoid them! Get your chores done before you begin work and save time for bingeing Netflix once you’re done for the day.

Coronavirus in pictures: Scenes from around the world

Set boundaries with other people at home

Working from home with roommates, friends or family present can be challenging. Speaking from experience, if someone comes over and sees you on the computer, they may not register that you’re working. This is true especially if that person has never worked from home before — they may assume you can do whatever you want.

It’s important to set boundaries with people around you in work from home settings. Tell everyone who’s home with you that you’ll be working during certain hours and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency. Put a sign on your door if you have to. Doing what you can to avoid interruptions is key to staying as productive as possible.

Take breaks

And no, scrolling through Instagram does not count as a break. You should aim to take a break every 75 to 90 minutes, for about 15 minutes per break. Ideally, your break should involve no screens at all and let you get some fresh air. Take a walk outside, play with a pet or talk to a friend. You’ll find that you’re much more productive if you walk away from your desk and computer throughout the day.

Try to add in social activities in your day, even if it’s just a phone call to a friend.

Avoid total social isolation

While working from home can feel more productive at times when you’re alone, there is also a downside to working alone all day. I consider myself an extroverted introvert — which means I work best without a lot of people around me, but I enjoy having coworkers and connecting with others every day in real life. One of the most challenging things about working from home is the lack of socialization.

As distracting as some office environments can be, there’s nothing like having coworkers you enjoy working with and catching up with throughout the day. Make time to connect with others, whether that means FaceTiming your work husband (or work wife) or making dinner plans with a friend.

By Mihret Amdu Yirgeta, April 6 2021—

This past year has been hard on all of us and it has made being productive incredibly difficult. Doing online classes and essentially creating our own schedules can be a serious problem. We cannot be falling behind on schoolwork and other obligations because we are procrastinating or “just not feeling it today.” Now if you are anything like me, getting up in the morning and doing work without external pressure is not the easiest thing in the world. I often deal with thoughts like, “I should just ignore everything and watch Netflix today. Who’s going to stop me?” To stop myself from becoming a sloth, I had to develop some habits to help me get into a productive mindset. So, without further ado, here are my tips and tricks to starting a productive day.

Have a consistent wake-up time

This one is incredibly important. Having a consistent wake-up time helps with two things:

First, waking up at the same time every day trains your brain to think “alright, I now need to get ready to work.” Waking up at different times does not give us that sense of structure in our day to develop good habits. Plus, on your off days, sleeping in signals your brain to relax.

Second, it helps with maintaining a proper sleep schedule. If you know what time you are going to wake up every morning, then you will know what time to sleep every night to have a good night’s rest — the recommended amount is 7–9 hours every night. Additionally, knowing what time you wake up and what time you go to sleep means you know exactly how many hours you have in the day to do everything you need to do. Good scheduling practices all around!

Make your bed

I read this somewhere and I was very skeptical at first, but it works. Making your bed first thing in the morning is quick and easy and you’d start your day off with an accomplishment. This is rewarding and signals your brain that you can accomplish many more tasks during the day. Plus, you’ll be saving ‘future you’ some work later on.

Make time for a workout

I know, I know, this is advice given by everyone who writes any kind of advice. But there is a reason it is recommended so often. Exercise gives you energy — it releases endorphins that make you feel happy and is a brilliant way to cope with stress. You do not have to do it for a long time either. I do either a 10-minute yoga routine or a 10-minute stretching routine — or I will do a 15-minute dance workout if I’m feeling particularly energetic. Doing some sort of a workout in the morning helps you feel more awake and reduces stress, which is a contributor to procrastination. Plus, that is one more accomplishment under your belt for the day.

Have a healthy breakfast

This is a habit my mom drilled into me. Did you know your brain uses about 20 per cent of your daily caloric intake? Your brain cannot function without sustenance, so why are you trying to make it do so? Additionally, breakfast gives you the energy to work. I find it difficult to get things done without much energy, but that could just be me. Eat something before you start working, preferably a healthy and balanced meal. Try and avoid sugary meals since your body breaks down sugar pretty quickly, causing you to crash early. Foods with starch, protein and some fibre are ideal. Google has tons of ideas for great healthy breakfast options.

Prepare a to-do list for the day’s work

Sitting down in the morning and putting together a to-do list primes your brain to start working. Having measurable goals for the day makes it more likely for you to finish a task. It is also so satisfying to cross out a task on a list — it is a tangible record of what you have achieved that day. There are tons of apps out there to help you make your list, both for mobile and desktop. I use Google Tasks and Google Calendar on my laptop to keep track of my due dates and my tasks for the day, but there are more options out there. If you are more old-school, get a planner with a calendar, do a bullet journal or just have a simple piece of paper or a small whiteboard for your tasks for the day. The satisfaction of crossing out a completed task by hand is unparalleled.

A word of caution here — make sure the tasks you put on your list are reasonable and can be done within a few hours. “I will finish the introduction to my paper today,” is a much more reasonable goal than “I will finish my entire paper today.” Unreasonable goals will only overwhelm you, stop you from getting work done and discourage you from further tasks.

Have a designated workspace

This one is not a habit exactly but it’s just as useful. Your brain gets conditioned pretty easily. If you work or use your laptop in bed a lot, your brain associates your bed with mental activity instead of sleep. Similarly, having a designated workspace means your brain associates that spot with getting work done. It makes it much easier to get started and stay focused.

In the end, most of having a productive day is in priming your brain to be productive for the day. These tips might not work for everyone and that’s alright. Everybody is different and requires different things to prime their brains. If these tips do not work for you, go and experiment with different habits until you find ones that do work and add them to your routine. Lastly, productivity is not meant to be kept up without rest — you will burn out that way. Make sure to have off days and some kind of relaxing activity at the end of the day.

How to be productive at home and make every day a productive day

Many of us are spending a lot more time at home right now. Including the workdays. When we’d usually be reporting to our desks, we’re finding ourselves on our couches or at our kitchen tables, trying to complete to-do lists without the built-in discipline of the office.

The expectations are the same, but the environment is not. And it’s not always an easy transition.

The key to work-from-home success is to create an environment that allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Whether you are working from home for the first time or just need a quick refresher, here are some tips for creating a functional but productive work area at home:

1. Select a space based on your needs.

The home office serves a great purpose, but it isn’t for everybody all the time. Would you like to fuel your creativity, or do you prefer a quiet environment for crunching numbers? You may find yourself curled up on the sofa one day and at the dining table the next, depending on the project. Determine how you usually divide your day. For example, are you more creative in the morning? You may spend that time writing or brainstorming ideas for your latest project. The afternoons then could be a more relaxed time spent sitting on the sofa, sifting through emails and completing the rest of your tasks for the workday.

2. Declutter.

Whether you work in a home office, kitchen or living room, if there’s “stuff” around that reminds you of your household chores, your eyes will go there and you’ll get distracted. Whenever you work from home, claim a clutter-free zone. This will help you stay focused on your workload and remain more aligned with an in-office experience.

3. Get ready for the day.

Many people think working from home means sitting around in pajamas with the television on in the background. Not true! Just like in an office setting, you have to set yourself up for success when working from home. Get ready as you would if you were going into the office. Set a morning ritual of getting dressed (no loungewear!), making your morning cup of coffee and doing whatever else you need to get in the right mindset. You may also want to jot down your work to-do list for the day. You increase your chances of being productive when you set an intention.

4. Put yourself in a good position.

Some people find it easy to work in bed or on the sofa. In either case, if you’re not sitting at a table, make sure you’ve got a small one within easy reach. You might not have a host of paperwork strewn out in front of you, but you will benefit from having the space to set a glass of water and your phone. Coffee tables and side tables fit the bill for any time you need extra space. You can also use a c-table to prop your laptop up to eye level and reduce strain on your neck. In addition to finding a surface space, you’ll also want to make sure to keep your posture in check. Prop yourself up with a few throw pillows to help maintain proper body alignment.

5. Turn on the lights.

Natural light through the windows can be lovely, but it can also cause glare on your computer screen. If windows work to your benefit and the view isn’t distracting, great. If not, pull the blinds and flip on the light switch. Table lamps and floor lamps provide targeted task light if your space has insufficient overhead lighting.

6. Create a home office ambiance.

One of the perks of working from home is being able to create a personalized work area in a way you may not be able to at the office. It’s all about creating a cozy yet productive space that is perfectly suited to your individual working style. Add elements that promote a calming or inspiring environment, such as fresh flowers, houseplants, task lighting, candles or beautiful crystals.

7. Set your schedule.

No matter if you work from home sporadically, a few days a week or all the time, you’ll need to plan out your daily schedule. Establish your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day. This will keep you on track with your workload. It also sends the message to your co-workers that you have a relatively set schedule—just like you would in the office.

8. Get out.

While working from your sofa can be great most of the time, sometimes you need to break up the day. Take a 10-minute walk around the block to freshen up and to encourage the flow of new ideas. Looking for a change of scenery? Head over to your local coffee shop or library to work there for a few hours as it fits into your schedule. Or, if you know others who work from home, invite them over for an informal co-working group. This will not only help you get closer to the in-office experience, but it can also be a substitute for watercooler chats and workplace socializing.

9. Log off!

One of the most important aspects of a healthy work-from-home routine is creating boundaries. Log off for the day—and not just from your laptop. Consider developing a phrase you say to yourself at the end of the day, to signal your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work. Have a last-minute idea come up after office hours? Jot it down, but come back to it tomorrow. Just because you have access to work anytime doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. Allow yourself to have downtime to create a work-life balance—we all need it, no matter where we are working.