Flexible working, including remote work and co-working, comes with a lot of perks. Inevitably, thought, it also come with a whole lot of responsibility. When scheduling your work is all up to you – and you can work from wherever you please, whenever you please – it’s easy to get caught up. In reading, daydreaming, slacking off… and sometimes maybe perhaps in procrastination. Yes, the dreaded p-word will strike eventually. But don’t worry. Solid self-organization and self-motivation skills can help you get out of even the deepest of procrastination and productivity ruts.
As a Pack, we’ve done this for quite a while. That’s why some of us have a bunch of really useful tips and tricks that could help you make your work more effective and time-efficient. And even if you do have to go to your office every day, we’re pretty sure some of those ideas will be useful for you too. So this is what we think can help you master how you use your time:
Unsurprisingly, having good quality gear and equipment is the number one thing that will shoot you right up the productivity slope. Knowing your computer shortcuts can save you tonnes of precious seconds along the way. Keeping your desktop and/or home screen clutter-free and tidy will make your life a whole lot easier as well. But that’s only the beginning. There are plenty of great, snazzy-looking, easy to use apps out there – and they’re all your friends. Use them!
Task management tools like Todoist and Things 3 can help you stay on track and in charge of your to-do lists. Time and productivity trackers such as Toggl and Hero Panel will come in handy while you’re trying to work out what your productivity over a given period of time looks like, and whether you’re on top of all your projects. Keep those at hand so you can cross things off as you go. But, at the same time, don’t worry if you’re not a virtual to-do list aficionado – traditional pen and paper options work just as well.
And don’t forget that the environment you’re working in can make a world of difference too – especially the background noise. That’s where handy apps can help as well. If you prefer chilled background music over silence or the generic noises of everyday life, Brain.fm might be the way to go for you. Alternatively, there are always the oldies but goldies of music streaming – Spotify, Google Play Music, and iTunes. Figure out which tunes help you stay focused and motivated, get your playlists going (check out ours, while you’re at it), and then rock on!
Find out when you’re the most productive and schedule your work around that. Hate getting up early because it only makes you grumpy, and work is the last thing you’d want to do before lunchtime? Or you’re into waking up at the crack of dawn? Getting the majority of your work done and dusted before the rest of the world rises? No matter your biorhythm, it’s always crucial that you find out what working conditions and times suit you, and then plan around that.
Once you know your peak productivity times and what settings help you stay focused, set your daily tasks to follow the pattern. Leave routine work for when you’re not at your best, and schedule the most demanding tasks for when your brain is on fire. Plan, and do so in the morning, or the night before, so you start each day with a clear idea of what needs to be done and when in mind. It’s also useful to create short as well as long-term goals. Group similar tasks into chunks (it’s a lot more satisfying to be able to cross an entire bunch of them off your to-do list, trust us!). Create daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals. This will all help you stay motivated and ensure that you’re heading in the right direction.
However, and this one is super important, make sure you always have a little bit of flexibility too. If you get stuck on a task, have another, less focus-heavy or entirely different in nature, at hand to keep you busy. This will give you a chance to come back to the initial one with a fresh set of eyes and a new approach.
Some of us find that a good combination of various different working environments and settings is exactly what one needs to make ideas flow and productivity spike. You might feel that cafés are great when you have to catch up on your reading, but you get easily distracted while working on more complex tasks at your favorite espresso bar. At the same time, you know that locking your main door behind you and getting into the zone at your desk at home is what cuts it. That’s all fine – just plan your week so that you have enough time at home – if that floats your boat – to get the most demanding things done there.
While working from home, make sure to minimize distractions. Don’t use your home office as a way to catch up on annoying house chores. If you do have some outstanding washing up to do, get it done first thing in the morning, and then start your working day with a clean slate.While working remotely, pay special attention to communication. Let your team know when you’re planning to be away from your laptop and out of reach so there are no unpleasant surprises. Communicate clearly, efficiently, and check in often.
Don’t give up on the office entirely though – it’s always good to spend quality office time with your colleagues. And sometimes nothing can beat a good old face-to-face discussion about a problem you’ve been stuck on for a few days. When you first join a company, make sure to spend a good amount of time in the office to soak in the company culture and get to know your team. If you, however, enjoy working in the office but find it too distracting every now and then, don’t forget to bring your trusted (noise canceling) headphones with you.
And regardless of where you’re working from on the given day, always make sure to take regular breaks. Keep hydrated, keep the coffee supply steady, keep healthy snacks nearby, and make solid lunch plans. You don’t want waste too much time eating in busy restaurants or hunting down that ham sandwich you’ve been craving for two days. So come prepared!
From time to time, your energy levels will take a dip, and you’ll find yourself low on motivation and drive. This happens to all of us. However, there are a few things we think can perk you up and give you a breath of fresh air. First off, make sure to get enough sleep. No matter your routine and your daily schedule, learn how much sleep and active rest you need to keep energized. And don’t skimp on it. Getting good rest is crucial to feeling productive at work and keeping your mind sharp. Use coffee as a boost but don’t rely on it as an energy source. When you feel like your energy levels are on the way down, take a walk. Move to the office, home from the office, or to your favorite café. A change in environment can work a real treat.
You can also move onto reading for a little bit, to refresh your mind and refocus. Reading can also help you find new angles to tackle your tasks, so don’t shy away from it. But do make sure your time-keeping stays solid, and avoid getting drawn into reading too much. Use it, for example, as an incentive, and dedicate a set time for it each day or each week. That way you’ll be working your way through your reading list while still making progress on your tasks and projects. Last but definitely not least, read and share positive news with your colleagues. Those are always a great energy kick and motivation boost for you as well as the rest of your team. And a cute puppy gif can go a long way too!
Do you have any useful tips and tricks on how to stay organized? What helps you stay on track? How do you make sure that you’re using your time as efficiently and productively as you could be? Let us know or shoot us a Tweet!
Visuals created by Boris Turek & Denis Simonenko