Cover Photo: 79&Park (Sweden) via nordicesign.ca
In these last six months, have you felt like the days mundanely mesh together some weeks and in others, the universe blesses you with bursts of energy to take on the world? We couldn’t agree more – with both sentiments. Some days, the thought of putting a stop to your Netflix-binge and re-emerging into productivity seems daunting after half the year in quarantine (and counting). In our new world of uncertainty, one fact remains – the smallest day-to-day changes can pack the most productive punch. The trick though is staying consistent.
We asked our extended team a question: What helps you snap out of the pandemic-slowdown and stay focused, efficient, and most of all happy? Below are our top productivity boosters worth trying.
CREATE MORNING RITUALS
Success is hidden in positive habits beginning first thing in the morning. Combating the urge to snooze is something we’ve all experienced, however infusing small rituals into your morning routine can change the course of the day. It can be as simple as making the bed every morning before anything else, or enjoying as little as 15 minutes of totally unplugged time. Here are a few others to consider:
- Some sort of physical activity! Whether it’s a series of morning stretches, a walk/run in the neighborhood, or a workout from your favorite fitness app, it really doesn’t matter. The key is to get the body in motion.
- Hydrate! Water has immeasurable healing powers. Try it hot with lemon before consuming anything else. Along those lines, remember to eat breakfast even if it’s small. Our tummies need fuel too.
- Organize the day! We all have some form of to-do lists, whether jotted down in a planner or stored in a mental-filing cabinet. Each morning, make a practice of breaking down your tasks for the day into two categories – “most important” and “other” (shop the daily planner we love here). This helps prioritize what’s at hand and curb feelings of being overwhelmed.
Once you have your morning rituals set, make them non-negotiables. Ultimately, a fresh start to the day helps you cross more off that to-do list – who wouldn’t want that?!
DEDICATE A WORKSPACE
In this new WFH normal, it can seem hard to find a secluded space that’s meant for working. Try to avoid the couch, bed, or anything that screams sleep or TV-marathon. Instead, find a workspace in your home that’s yours and only yours (stay tuned for a feature on creating small office spaces). Our minds are programmed to turn on the work-mode switch when we’re in a focused environment that drowns out everything else in life. Tap into that.
Once you’ve identified an at-home workspace, start each day by decluttering it. The long day before may have left unfiled papers, bills and other things across your desk. Clear the space and put everything back in its spot. Or, if you’re feeling ultra-ambitious after the workday, end the night with this practice instead – organize your desk with tomorrow’s most important to-do’s front and center and put away all else.
SETTING GROUND RULES… WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Though many of us are working from home now, that doesn’t mean we’re not working. You and others should respect that. Let that sink in…
Now, think about your pre-Covid work schedule. What time were you out of the house, and what time were you starting your work day generally? Use your prior commute time for our first tip above – your morning ritual. After that, start your day at the same time you did before.
Once you’ve established your schedule, stick to it most importantly, but also make family members or roommates aware of it. They won’t mind, and in fact, it’ll likely urge them to do the same. Now, we get that for parents, setting these ground rules are MUCH harder to do than said – so please consider this tip with a grain of salt. In the case of kiddies, a tip we’ve heard from our mommy-friends is to create a mini workspace for your little(s) for activities so they also feel part of the day.
One way to stick to your ground rules is to utilize productivity or time management apps. Here are a few to get started:
- Forest: When you’re ready to start the workday (or a single task), you can plant a seed and set a timer through the app. If you stick the task, the seed grows into a tree. If not – let’s say you get distracted by something else (ahem… like social media) – your tree sadly dies. Grow those trees!
- Google Calendar: You may already use it, but if not, this app is a life changer! It allows you to manage your calendar, organize your tasks and set reminders/appointments.
- IFTTT: This free app that rhymes with the word “gift” is just that – a gift to your productivity. You can set up “if this, then that” actions. For example, “If there is a Zoom meeting tomorrow, text me a reminder with the dial-in link.” It’s that simple.
BREAKS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT
Taking guilt-free breaks throughout the day not only allows the mind to re-charge, but helps you accomplish more. When planning your workday, schedule your breaks in. Famous words – “there’s an app for that!” Try Be Focused – a free app that uses the Pomodoro Technique of breaking the day into 25-minute sessions with 5-minute breaks to follow.
If you prefer breaks at different time intervals, block time in your daily calendar for what works for you. Once it’s in your schedule, commit to that totally unplugged time and don’t take any work-related calls then. It’s your time, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
Taking breaks gives you energy to show up fully for yourself the rest of the day. It’s about finding balance, which will ultimately enable you to get more done without feeling like you’re burning the candle at both ends. This is far more productive than burning yourself out.