When we’re young, home is often a place of relaxation and a place of putting off homework in favor of playing computer games or watching cartoons. It’s where the responsibilities of our young lives (namely, school) melt away, save for our regular chores.
As adults, while we may spend our workdays fantasizing about vegging out in front of the television after a long day, we learn a difficult truth about grown up life: you don’t get to leave responsibility at the front door.
With so many different responsibilities and tasks to handle at home, juggling them all – while still finding time for yourself – can be tricky. However, by adding a few productivity techniques into your daily routines, you can tackle all your home-related projects efficiently while keeping your sanity intact.
Cultivate Your A.M. Routine
With the abundance of articles detailing successful people’s morning schedules, it’s starting to feel like it’s impossible to be successful in life if you don’t wake up painfully early (or that billionaires are in some sort of competition to see who can wake up the earliest).
Luckily, you don’t have to wake up pre-crack-of-dawn to have a productive day, you just need to wake up with enough time to fit in a morning routine that works for you.
The point of having a specific routine you perform each morning is to set yourself up for success from the minute you get out of bed. How you start the day can have a big impact on your mood and productivity levels throughout the day, so having a routine that works for you can help you get started on the right foot.
Take some time to think about what a good morning routine would look like for you. Think about the things that make you feel good, and combine them with the tasks you need to get done in the morning. Does taking the dog for a long walk always leave you happy and energetic, or would early morning exercise leave you feeling resentful and grumpy? Do you enjoy reading, or would you prefer to listen to the radio?
The important thing is to choose activities that will help you personally and use them to add structure to your mornings. Don’t focus too much on doing the things that people often say you’re supposed to do as part of a morning routine – things like meditation or drinking tea. If you’ve never meditated a day in your life or don’t enjoy tea, you probably aren’t going to be helped by those things. Instead, why not put on an episode of your favorite sitcom while having a bowl of sugary cereal? It may feel slightly childish, but if it puts you in a good mood, who cares?
By now you’ve heard that multitasking is actually bad for your focus and lowers your overall productivity. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t group together some of your less involved tasks, so they take less time out of your day, allowing you more time to focus on the things that matter to you.
For example, if your daily workout doesn’t require a ton of concentration or effort, you could use that time to catch up on email on your phone or brainstorm your dinner menu for next week. Or maybe you can help your kid study for class while doing the dishes or prepping dinner.
The key is to single out tasks that won’t be compromised if they don’t have your full attention. Where multitaskers go wrong is by trying to take on multiple important, high-effort projects at one time, splitting their focus and hurting the quality of their work. As long as you’re putting the necessary amount of effort into both tasks to get them done efficiently, multitasking can help you get through some of the easier but essential items on your to-do list quickly.
Make Your Workspace Work for You
If working from home mainly involves you plopping yourself down wherever there’s a comfy chair and a spot for your laptop, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
While there are a lot of benefits to logging hours from the comfort of your own living space, you do miss out on some of the structure that comes with a more traditional office environment. Luckily, you have the ability to create the perfect workspace that blends the benefits of working from home with the structure of working in an office.
Be intentional about the way you work from home. Create a dedicated spot where you work, preferably away from distractions like the TV or noisy pets. Make sure it has some storage where you can keep all your work-related things.
Take some time to personalize the space, and have fun with it. In a typical office, with side-by-side cubicles or open floor plan workspaces, you generally can’t exert a lot of control over the environment you work in. So when you’re creating your work-from-home space, create an environment that’s ideal for you. Experiment with aromatherapy, bring in a space heater or start a small desktop herb garden. Making the space really feel like your own will help you get excited about working, so you don’t end up wandering the house looking for distractions.
Prioritize Your Housekeeping
If you’re a busy person – and who isn’t these days? – you know that a tidy house is often the first casualty when you’re running on a tight schedule. This is unfortunate, since having an organized and cleanly home can improve your mood and lower your stress levels. Being stressed and unhappy can wreak havoc on your ability to be productive, so you should make sure you’re keeping your space at least somewhat clean.
If you don’t have time to keep everything spotless 100% of the time, start by prioritizing your most important house cleaning tasks. For example, you’ll always need clean dishes and clean clothes, so put washing dishes and doing laundry near the top of the list. If your floors are pretty good at hiding a little bit of dirt and dust, you can stick sweeping a little lower on the list.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of a little bit of cleaning here and there. Giving the counter a quick wipe-down after cooking dinner, sticking the cardigan you tried on back on a hanger or washing the knife you used to cut your sandwich right away are all very easy things you can do that’ll prevent big messes from piling up.
Structure Your Off Hours
What are some things you’d like to do outside of work? Do you want to write a book, make new friends or take up a new hobby?
It can be easy to use up any free time you have just trying to recover from your daily responsibilities. That’s why it can be helpful to actually schedule any side projects or hobbies you want to work on into your daily routine.
For example, if you’re trying to write a novel, get into the habit of writing a certain number of words at the same time every day. If you want to take up a new hobby, signing up for a class can make you more likely to commit to it.
It can be hard to sacrifice what little down time you currently have, but scheduling in some time for self-improvement projects like this will be worth it down the road when you have a new group of friends or are enjoying your newfound painting skills.
Give Yourself Time to Do Nothing
If you stretch yourself too thin and are always trying to accomplish something without a break, you’re going to burn out very fast, which means you won’t be able to do the things you need to do as well or as efficiently. While you should try to make the most of your time when you can, you also need to give yourself time to breathe.
Allot some time for yourself, whether it be at the end of the day or during the weekend, where you have no obligation to do anything at all. Carve out some time you could spend simply staring at the ceiling if you so choose, and do whatever makes you happy. Watch some guilty pleasure TV, read a book or just play a game on your phone.
Relax, recharge and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
What do you do to stay productive at home? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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