7 tips for being productive wherever you work from

16 Aug 2022 5 min read

Written by

Dorina Anton

, Marketing Specialist

Do you ever finish the day off with the question: “What have I actually accomplished today?”

Constant busyness, a lack of organization, and not knowing how to plan your day according to your way of working can put a strain on your overall productivity (and even your team). These factors can make work feel more like a burden than a place where you bring your best self. With the shift towards work-from-home, being productive might still be challenging for you. But this is why you are here, right? To gain some insights and ideas.

In this article, we will look at how you can organize yourself and use various tips and techniques to boost your working flow. We gathered some of the top tips we’ve come across and used ourselves to stay productive and, ultimately, achieve things professionally. Finally, if you find this article useful, don’t forget to share it with your colleagues and maybe even get them out of their productivity slump.

What is productivity

At an organizational level, productivity measures output per unit of input. But in the era of knowledge-workers, many industries don't rely only on produced units when talking about productivity. Nowadays, the discussions revolve more around how much valuable work you, as an employee, can achieve in a given timeframe. But not all work brings the same results, and our daily time and energy are limited. Therefore, when you choose to work on high-value tasks and optimize the processes and collaboration towards efficiency, you will (most probably) achieve the highest level of individual productivity.

How to be productive daily and organize yourself better

Productivity is measured quite differently, based on each individual's field of work. For some, it might mean answering 40 client emails. For others, it might mean finishing a feature they've been working on, and for others, it might be developing a system that will benefit the company in the long term.

Whichever it is, try the following tips on how to build more efficient ways of dealing with tasks — the ones you enjoy and even the daunting ones. It will take some time and energy in the beginning (like all new behaviors require), but in time they will help you better approach activities in the workplace.

1. Write your tasks down and set out your priorities

It can be priorities of the day, week, month, or even quarter. The main idea is that you should write down every task and commitment.

In the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, the author points out how unfinished activities take up your mental energy. Imagine now that you have 15 things to remember to do this week, each divided into smaller tasks. When you rely solely on your memory, this acts as a mental stressor, tiring you even before starting the actual work. By writing things down, your brain becomes less crowded and you'll notice you have more mental space and energy to focus on doing your tasks instead of remembering and overthinking them.

Now that you have your list, you should sit down, scrutinize the value of each task, and decide which ones bring the highest value in your current role. Afterward, you can pick out the strategy that works best for you. Some ideas you can try out:

  • Settle on three tasks that bring the most contribution to the organization and push forward the overall strategy;
  • Choose one task as the "highlight" of the day that guides your focus and energy during the day. Whatever you will work on next, you will already have a sense of accomplishment, as well as a personal and organizational win.

Tip 1: Discuss with a mentor or your manager top priorities for greater clarity and confirmation that the direction you chose is also aligned with the team and organization. It will save you a lot of time and energy.

2. Have routines across the day that enhance your focus and mood

Routine can be a powerful thing, whether you're working from home or in an office. It's all about setting habits and providing a structure to your work day. It's up to you to build a routine that works well, but here are a few you can consider trying out:

  • Spend the first hour of the day without your phone;
  • Journal and dump out all thoughts somewhere;
  • Drink a cup of coffee for a few minutes and focus on what you want to accomplish;
  • Go out for a run or a walk;
  • Make breakfast and listen to music that energizes you;
  • Read a book.

This is the fun part where you experiment and discover what gives you a great start to the morning and what replenishes your energy levels across the day. The trick is to go through a trial and error process until you find something that fits you as a person. If you want to get inspired further, our colleagues previously shared the daily routines that keep them productive and sane. You will notice the diversity in how each one approaches their day and cultivates habits and environments that boost their productivity.

3. Tackle the difficult task first thing when you start working

Once you make progress on the most challenging activity, the rest of the tasks will feel like a breeze. For activities that seem impossible to accomplish, assign 5-10 minutes to familiarize yourself with them. This way, you start by taking small steps and progress further and further with the task. When you return to it later, it won't feel insurmountable anymore.

Needless to say, you need to reduce all distractions and dedicate time and energy to the challenging activity right when you are at your peak during the day. Understanding how you work best, monitoring your behavior, and practicing the "muscle" of discipline when working on challenging tasks will benefit you in the long term. Plus, did you know that being interrupted or distracted costs you at least 23 minutes until you regain focus?

Tip 2: Plan out your to-do list the day before and set out clear priorities. This way, you also avoid spending energy the next morning on deciding what the most important activities are.

4. Schedule meetings so that they don’t divide the rest of the day into small chucks of time

How many times did you finish a meeting, wanted to dive into a difficult task, but there was another meeting scheduled in another hour? This kind of time allocation is never really beneficial for anyone. Plus, it makes it increasingly difficult to enter a state of "flow" or "deep work" and focus for a few hours on an important and high-value task (good things also take time, right?). 

Smooth collaboration is also an aspect that influences personal productivity and it means finding the right time to discuss important matters, having touch points with your colleagues, and at the same time not being constantly interrupted in your flow of work. Therefore, an option is to discuss within your team and agree on a few windows of uninterrupted work a few days per week so that each team member can fully focus on their tasks. Another option would be to set up with your team different channels of communication in accordance with the complexity and urgency of a discussion.

5. Always document and have outputs with actionable steps

A problem with having meetings and discussions is that the conclusions are not always written down in an accessible digital place for all team members. Considering that a lack of clarity is one of the most common productivity killers some people face, taking 2 minutes during a meeting to write the main activities that need to happen, who is responsible for what, when it needs to happen, and the level of priority helps tremendously with knowing who is accountable for what.

6. Group similar tasks together

If you have tasks that require the same skill set, an option is to work on them, one after another. It's more efficient for your brain after you finished a task to work on a similar one. We don't encourage multitasking, as in the constant switch from one activity to another. This is generally strongly discouraged because studies show that this constant switching can be stressful for our brain and slow it down.

Tip 3: Start with an activity that takes you around 2 minutes to complete and then continue from there on. You will build momentum and enter a state of flow after a while.

7. Being equipped with the right tools, technologies, and systems to carry out your daily work

How many times have you lost 20 minutes to even an hour searching for information, documents, important emails, or even procedures? Or even worse, when you didn't find the document you needed and had to spend time recreating it? This is a serious hamper on productivity and overall mood and might linger even across the rest of your day.

Knowledge and collaboration systems inside the company take off a lot of the stress and negative emotions that you might feel when things don't go as smoothly as you'd like. That is why we are firm believers in the power of having information organized and using technologies that aid you in this direction. You should have the right tools and information a few clicks away. This point is less of a personal one and more of an encouragement to bring up to your management the bottlenecks that you notice waste your energy and discourage you from doing your best work. Not to mention all the knowledge that is lost once an employee leaves the company or when a colleague is not available to answer questions about a project.

Closing thoughts

Productivity comes and goes and you shouldn't expect yourself to be able to tackle tasks for 8 hours a day. What you can do, however, is improve your windows of productivity and maintain them in a healthy, beneficial way. We hope these tips have sparked some ideas about how to approach your daily workload in a more productive and purposeful way. Of course, everyone is different and has a unique style of working. That is why we wholeheartedly encourage you to experiment and discover what works best for you! Remember that changes in habits take some energy and time in the beginning. Trust yourself and trust the process.

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