Whether we work in an office or from home, we all struggle to keep our focus and get things done. Our lives are busier than ever and it’s easy to get distracted or bogged down in details or pointless emails. Productivity advice abounds in the blogosphere. In fact, there’s so much advice out there that sifting through it all can take hours — that is definitely not productive.
Luckily for you, we’ve distilled the mountains of productivity advice out there into three simple tips that you can put into action today.
Carve Out A Work Space
If you’re working from home, having a space dedicated solely to work can vastly increase your productivity. Set up your work space outside of your living room or bedroom — your work area should be for work and nothing else. Setting aside a place for work that is separate from where you spend your leisure time can help maintain the boundary between work and free time. Also, by assigning a specific area where you’ll do all of your work, over time you’ll train your brain to go into work-mode whenever you sit down at your desk. This will lead to increased productivity and focus.
This seems like a no-brainer, and yet, all to often we find ourselves scanning our Facebook or Twitter feeds, or reading the latest headlines instead of working. If you’re working from home, the number of distractions is even greater. Luckily, there are dozens of great apps and plugins designed to remove the temptations of social media and help you zero in on the task at hand.
Stayfocused is a free Chrome extension that blocks distracting sites from your browser. A great alternative for Mac users is SelfControl. SelfControl blocks email and predetermined sites for a set period of time, allowing you to work in a distraction-free environment.
If you’re working in a noisy environment, noise cancelling headphones combined with music or white noise can help minimize environmental distractions. If you need to make calls or record audio, the ClearMic Plus Noise Cancelling Microphone will filter out background noise so you’ll sound as if you’re in a quiet office.
Set Time Limits
When you have dozens of tasks that have to be done, or even one monumental project, it’s tempting to try to force yourself to sit down for a long stretch of time and just plow through. Unfortunately, this often leads to burn-out, exhaustion, and frustration. Our minds work best when we set manageable goals and allow ourselves time to rest and recover.
Instead of chaining yourself to your desk for hours at a time, specify the amount of time you’re going to spend on a given task. At the end of the allotted time, give yourself a short break, and then move on to the next task. One popular productivity method, the Pomodoro Technique, divides your time up into 25 minute chunks, with brief breaks in between, followed by a longer break. The idea is to allow yourself to focus for short bursts of intense productivity, and also allow yourself the time to rest, stretch, and clear your head.
We hope these tips help you stay on track and and accomplish more with the time you have. What are some of your favorite productivity strategies?