Working hard from home or hardly working? Five quick and easy productivity tips

productivity hacks

Output taken a dive since you ditched the commute? Whether you’re stuck under Victorian lockdown, working from home more often, or going remote permanently, here are five productivity hacks to help get your to-do list tah-done.

Stop having lunch ‘al desko’

The cons for dining al desko go beyond a crumby keyboard to include joint pain and long-term health risks from sitting too long, brain fog, loss of focus and, yep, reduced productivity. 

Even so, 25% of Australians admitted to never taking a lunch break away from their desk in 2019. And a British poll found people were 41% more likely to eat at their desks now they’re working from home in lockdown.

Don’t fall into the trap: studies show that brief breaks boost motivation and productivity, and relaxing over lunch promotes energy recovery and fights fatigue. 

So, by taking some time out whenever you feel you need to, to eat and move intuitively, you’ll be re-energising and re-focussing the rest of your work day. 

Take back control over your apps

Did you know that after checking an email it takes around 25 minutes to get back into the maximum productivity zone? There are also claims that trying to juggle emails, calls and messages drops our IQ by 10 points

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Long story short, our tech habits are driving us to distraction — and smartphones are a particular culprit. 

Show yours who’s boss by: 

  • Turning off notifications for anything less-than-urgent,
  • Committing to an hour (or more) of focused work at the time of day when you’re least likely to be needed or interrupted,
  • Assigning ‘time slots’ to check and respond to social media and email, use apps, and so on,
  • Using focus tools, such as Boomerang for Gmail, to help manage your mail,
  • Scheduling social media posts in advance with Facebook’s built-in feature for Business Pages, or try scheduling software Hootsuite, Later or Edgar
  • Deleting distracting apps or move them into folders. 

Say goodbye to multitasking

Multitasking has its place, but ultimately trying to do more than one task at a time — especially more than one complex task — decreases efficiency and raises risk. One study even claims that lack of productivity due to multitasking equates to global losses of $450 billion a year. 

If you do have to juggle, limit ‘switching costs’ by not swapping back and forth between jobs. Another good tip is to jot down the important points about a task when you’re finished with it, so you can mentally let go and refocus. 

Optimise your to-do list

A good to-do list will shape your day and keep you focused — but remember 41% of to-do list items are never completed, so less is more.

Work smarter by: 

  • Assigning due dates and time estimates to each task,
  • Prioritising accordingly,
  • Revising your list daily,
  • Limiting tasks to 3-5 items per day.

Apps have their advantages, including built-in reminders and collaboration potential. Try TodoistThings, Any.do or Asana.

Your desk is a mirror: make it reflect the way you work

On the one hand, studies show a messy desk can boost creativity. Then again, constantly seeing reminders of disorganisation drains our brain power and ability to focus

In fact, one study suggests we can persist with challenging tasks more than 1.5 times as long in a neat and tidy environment.

Whatever your process, a good system is key for productivity — and searching for things in a chaotic workspace is an obvious time-suck. 

Stay on top of it by:

  • Taking a few minutes to reassess and reset your desk at the end of every work session. 
  • Adding some personal touches, like plants or family photos. Studies suggest this may offset some of the negative effects of lack of privacy, distraction and stress, and help us feel more in control.
  • Thinking of your desktop as your desk! Searching for lost digital documents could cost you up to two frustrating hours a week.

Working from home is an adjustment, but a few small changes can help you get into the swing of things. Optimise your output with these productivity hacks and get back to business, wherever you are.

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