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As a freelance writer, I’ve worked from home for a decade, years before COVID-19 and working from home became a reality for thousands of Australians.
Over the years, I’ve created a solid routine which includes tools and techniques to help me stay productive, motivated and meet client deadlines consistently:
Wake up one hour earlier than family members
While it’s tempting to roll out of bed at the last possible minute, waking up early allows you to plan your day, eat your breakfast or drink your morning cuppa in peace before the rest of the household wakes up and takes over (especially useful for homeschooling and working parents).
Most days, I’ll do some stretches, squeeze in a quick yoga session, or meditate while the tea is brewing. Waking up earlier than my family gives me control over my time rather than rushing from one thing to the next.
Studies have found that people who wake up an hour earlier every day reduce their risk of depression by 23 per cent and experience higher levels of wellbeing because they are exposed to more daylight.
I’ve found that, for a good night’s sleep, it helps to switch off all devices by 8pm. If you need to work for a couple of hours before bed, install an app called f.lux to avoid the blue light from the screen disrupting your sleep patterns.
Write your to-do list for the next day
Writing a to-do list for the following day before you clock off prevents procrastination the next morning.
List the tasks in order of difficulty – be specific and clear in terms of what needs to be done. For example, instead of ‘social media’, write down ‘brainstorm ideas for 10 social media posts’. The highest priority task gets done first. Cross out each task as you work your way down the list.
There are three benefits to writing a to-do list the night before: You don’t have to remember what it is you need to do the next day, you’ll feel much more productive and motivated if you get the hardest tasks done first, and you’ll feel less anxious about the day ahead.
Research has proven that your brain loves a to-do list. It’s great for motivation and productivity, both handy when you’re working solo from home.
Start your day with exercise
Instead of scrolling aimlessly through social media in the mornings, I duck out for a brisk walk or run before I head to my desk. I aim for 20 – 30 minutes if I’ve got a lot of work to do. Otherwise, I run/walk for an hour.
I avoid checking Facebook or Instagram while exercising. Instead, I might listen to a podcast or calming music or savour the peace of the morning.
Having trouble focusing on work during the day? Exercising in the mornings increases your alertness levels and helps you smash through that to-do list you wrote the night before.
You’re likely to choose healthier food instead of reaching for a sugary hit mid-morning, and you’ll sleep better at night too. Win!
No, I’m not talking about eating pasta. Pomodoro is a time management and procrastination-busting technique where you work in short, timed sessions.
If I’m having trouble progressing or starting a task, I set the timer for 25 minutes and tackle that task, minus any distractions. Once the 25 minutes are over, I take a short break, usually for five minutes (the break is called a Pomodoro).
Break down your workday into 25-minute chunks followed by five-minute breaks. The breaks stop you from working non-stop and force you to move about.
You’ll be surprised by how much work you can get done in those 25-minute sections! You can either download the Pomodoro app on your phone or install the extension into your browser.
Get dressed for work
The way I dress every morning affects how much work I end up doing that day. The days I make an effort to wear a smart top and jeans; it makes me feel more professional and productive.
Pyjamas seem to be the outfit of choice for Australians in lockdown but they’re downers for productivity and motivation.
Even if you’re commuting from your bedroom to the living area or home office, wearing work clothes helps your brain shift into work mode. Choose smart and casual attire like polo shirts for men or dressy tops paired with jeans for women.
Whether you choose to return to the office or continue working from home when the new normal kicks in, use these tips to switch your brain into gear every morning. Let us know which ones worked for you!
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