geared towards people who work at home, especially writers
This is the second half of my productivity tips list, so if you missed part 1, don’t forget to check it out!
6. Schedule both fun time and chill time.
And yes, they are different things. Fun time is for things like bowling with your kids, going on a weekend hike, or checking out your local Zumba class. (Notice how these are all active things that might give you endorphins.) Chill time is for things like TV marathons, lazy evenings on the couch with your spouse and pets, and luxury naps. (Notice how these are all snuggly things that might up your oxytocin levels.) Both are necessary for a healthy body and brain, so give yourself time to do one of each at least once a week. If you can’t find time, make time. A refreshed self is more productive than a continually exhausted self.
7. Get busy. (Not to be confused with fun time.)
This one is counter-intuitive. But have you ever noticed that when you have a bit of a time crunch you can pound out 1,000 words in a single hour… words that you often can’t get over an entire half-day? There’s a reason for this, and it’s the same one high school students have been using as an excuse to do last-minute papers for decades: our brains often work better under slight stress.
My point is that if you aren’t at least moderately busy, you might be less productive even though you have more time. So if you work at home and see that your day is wide open with nothing but one goal, throw some other things in there. Tell yourself you’re going to go get the oil changed today at 2, and that you have to accomplish your goal before then. You’ll likely achieve that new goal—and get your oil changed to boot. It’s a win-win.
And if you routinely find yourself with lots of empty time, it might be time to increase your goals.
8. Turn off the freaking interwebs.
Look at your laptop keyboard. Do you see near the top what looks like a little phone tower with motion symbols coming out of it? That’s the wireless button. (You desktoppers will have to do it the old fashioned way, from the control panel.) That button: push it. “But Annie, won’t that turn off the internet?” Yup.
9. Be hard on yourself.
There probably isn’t a therapist in the world who would tell you this, but lucky for us… I’m not a therapist.
Working for yourself is like going to the gym; it’s innate human nature to cheat. The reason personal trainers and fitness classes work better than telling yourself “you’ll do it at home” is because we are always sneakily trying to figure out ways to go easy on ourselves. It’s in our genetic makeup to conserve energy—both physical and mental. So, just as you might let yourself go 5 pounds lighter at the gym than your trainer would, you might just go several tasks lighter on yourself at home than a traditional boss would.
There’s no easy fix for this. The goals help, as does the schedule. In the end, you have to constantly remind yourself what you’re capable of.
You have to work hard. You have to push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of, or you’ll never test your limits. I tell my husband all the time that I’m a much tougher boss than any bosses I know, and it’s true. If you want to be productive, you need to be hard on yourself.
10. But not too hard.
That being said… there’s a limit. You don’t want to cross the line between pushing yourself toward productivity and bullying yourself. That’s why we schedule in fun time and chill time. And if your own boss (you) ever brings you to tears with her harshness… tell that chief to eff off and go take your lunch break early. She’ll understand.
11. Get enough sleep.
You know that expression “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”? I think it’s one of goofiest things I’ve ever heard. People need sleep. You know what happens when you don’t sleep? You die. So… yeah, I guess you will “sleep when you’re dead”… and it will be a lot sooner than the rest of us.
Snark aside, not getting enough sleep is a huge problem in our society. When I was in college, people were always surprised by how regularly I maintained high grades. They’d ask me how I did it, and there were really only two answers: 1) Review new information within 24 hours of learning it, and 2) Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Not kidding. Most people could get high grades if they religiously followed those two rules.
The mistake so many people make is cutting sleep during the week and “catching up” on the weekend. The problem with this (aside from the fact that sleep is directly tied to the immune system, and a lack of sleep will lead to increased illness, which will lead to decreased productivity) is that the brain needs sleep each night to process, sort, and store all of the information of that day. If you miss sleep that night, there’s no going back; that information (or some of it) will be lost—inadequately stored. So while, yes, you’ll sleep more that weekend because you’ll be tired, it won’t reverse the negative effects of skipping sleep during the week. There’s no such thing as “catching up on sleep.”
A rested brain means a higher-functioning brain. A higher-functioning brain means faster, higher-quality work production. Get your eight hours each night so your noggin is ready to go each morning. Plus, you’ll get rid of that dragged-out-of-bed–by-an-angry-raccoon feeling, which is always nice. Speaking of which…
12. Make the bed.
I thought about writing a whole paragraph here about how starting your day off with a neat, lovely, productive attitude sets the tone and gets you in a positive frame of mind (and there is truth to that — no, really)… but then I realized that I just prefer when people make the bed.
So make the bed.
What did I miss? Do you find yourself wishing you were more productive? Do you have any extra tips you can share with my readers? Jump in below!Share this: