Guest blog by Alexandra Morgan.
As a self-employed blogger specialising in travel, I’ve had to rapidly change my focus given that it’s been less flight and more fight (for commissions) since lockdown. I’ve never worked in an office but always had sole responsibility for getting my work done. Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips to help hack my workweek for maximum productivity and, as it looks like WFH isn’t going away anytime soon, I offer these suggestions to anyone who might need to re-boot their strategy for a few more months of working at home (or living at work).
Map out your energy levels
Start with the science. Take advantage of the hours of the day when you’re most likely to be at your peak performance and do your most urgent and important work then. Fast Company’s secret to discovering these hours involves listing your energy, focus, and motivation “scores” to track your peak performance times in a spreadsheet template over several weeks. Looking for patterns can help you figure out what’s contributing to your fatigue, and save those less demanding tasks for the times where you’re lacking energy.
Rejig your to-do-list
Often, productivity can be a state of mind. If you’re feeling demotivated, checking things off your to-do-list can help you get back to the grind. If your list consists of big, scary-looking projects, you can make your day look more manageable by breaking it down into little pieces. This will stop you from feeling overwhelmed by the bigger picture. A Forbes article describes how doing a single thing at a time is the most effective way to go about your journey. Take it step-by-step and work on the highest priority projects first.
Plan for the unexpected
For the highly organised individual, having a daily and weekly schedule is essential to help you cover all your bases. However, disaster can strike when you least expect it. Inc. recommends replacing the best-case scenario and assume that people will run late, deadlines will be shifted, and much more. By doing so, you’ll have a little breathing room in your day to address all the things that have cropped up. If by chance your day does go as planned, you can spend this extra hour or so doing some self-care, such as taking that much-needed power nap.
Take a break
Sometimes, we can get so engrossed in a task that we keep pushing forward through the brain fog and fatigue that inevitably occurs. However, frustration can quickly build up if we struggle with an easy task. To prevent this from happening, an article from Verizon Connect suggests taking a 10-minute break to refresh your mind and regain some perspective. Having a quick stretch can get rid of the tension in your neck and shoulders. Set an alarm for you to get back to your desk, and try a change of scenery for some fresh inspiration. Follow this advice, and your body and mind will thank you.
Tweak your playlist
As a writer, the time flies by much faster if I have an inspiring soundtrack in the background. When I feel like I’m stuck in a rut, allowing my thoughts to flow along with the music can get my words flowing again. However, some types of music work much better than others. Entrepreneur suggests listening to soothing sounds from nature, video games, and movies to avoid being distracted. Their recommendations include scores from “Inception”, “Cloud Atlas” and “Amélie” to get you in the mood. As a general guide, stay away from too-fast beats and distracting lyrics that may make you sing along.
It may sound simple, but knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel after a difficult task can help you power through it. Whether it’s something as simple as a stack of fresh pancakes in the morning or a tech upgrade you’ve been eyeing, it’s time to tick off that well-deserved milestone. This is a great way to get that motivation you need to overcome that monster of a project or that way-too-tight deadline. Also, keep in mind that perfection can’t always be attained. Sometimes, it’s better to get things finished so that you can tweak it later on.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re just starting out, don’t be shy to ask your family and friends for some extra support. Even something as simple as a social media like, comment, or review can spread some awareness of your product or service. You can also reach out to like-minded businesses in your area to come up with a special partnership or promo that can get you through these difficult days. Asking for honest feedback and constantly improving what you have to offer will help you build your brand.
Lastly, working smarter doesn’t necessarily mean putting more effort into completing your daily tasks. It’s about being aware of your needs, taking a moment to recharge, and being kind to yourself. Remember that there are days when you might not feel at your best, but with some planning and foresight, you can create new habits.
Alexandra Morgan is a freelance blogger whose interest in writing blossomed from an early age. These days, she makes a living writing about unique travel destinations, but often spends her time writing fiction set in the beautiful places she’s had the chance to visit. In her spare time, she tries to refresh her creativity by watching crime shows and mockumentaries, just to see how she can inject a bit more fantasy into real life.
Exclusively for The Caffeine Partnership
Photo credit: Carl Heyerdahl at Unsplash