How Productive Are You?

How Productive Are You?

To be productive in this fast paced land of notifications and distractions isn’t easy, even for those of us who like to write about it sometimes. I can often be found in a heap at my desk thinking I may as well give up work for the day because there have been so many distractions and interruptions.

There are many productiveness killers, especially when you work from home, and I like to break them down into these categories:

Interruptions

  • The telephone (whether business or personal), it can interrupt you at anytime during the day and whatever you’re working on at the time will have to be put to one side. 
  • The doorbell, family/friends, the postman, cold callers, people spreading the word of the Lord… it happens, although not to me now I have moved to rural France.
  • Lunchtime, I put this as an interruption because for me I would happily go on working through the whole day without stopping for lunch if I could, but I need to eat. The same applies to tea/coffee breaks.

Distractions

  • Email notifications, if you have these set-up they can take you off task by dragging you over to your email to respond.
  • Social media notifications, the same applies here, they distract you from what you’re supposed to be working on.
  • The dog coming over and nose butting your hand because he wants to go out/wants to play/just wants some love! This happens to me every day… poor dog feels neglected!
  • The radio (if you have it on while you’re working), I tend to have the radio on during the day, music I can work quite well too but when there’s a lot of speaking it distracts me quite a bit.

Well-being

  • If you’re feeling under the weather it’s going to cause you to be less productive, I know that some days I feel like I’d rather be laying on the sofa with a good book or watching a film.
  • Stress, this is a big killer of productiveness, if you’re stressed you’re not going to achieve anything.
  • Not getting enough fresh air, if you’re stuck at your desk for up to 12 hours a day it’s not doing anything for your health or your productivity.

Clutter

  • An untidy office is going to create a messy mind, if you have paperwork everywhere, can never find anything then you’re not going to be working efficiently.
  • If you work from home then having a messy home the other side of your office is probably going to cause you some stress – it does me!
  • No filing system on your computer is just as bad as having a messy office, it causes inefficiency.

Can you think of any other categories?

I had originally planned to give you some of my favourite iPhone apps for this article, but it’s turned out to be a much more in-depth post, so I’m still going to give you some apps to check out after my relevant tips.

How to deal with interruptions…

  1. You could ignore the telephone and put voicemail on when you are busy working on a project, I think it’s perfectly acceptable not to answer every single telephone call, you don’t answer emails instantly (well most people don’t).
  2. You may like to install CCTV at your front door so you can see who is calling and then choose to ignore them or not… that’s a bit of a joke, but seriously, if you’re working on something ignore the door too, or just check out the window first to check it’s not anything urgent.
  3. Lunch is difficult to miss, and you shouldn’t skip it, you probably could do with the break anyway, so why not take half an hour to do something else even if it’s just to hang the washing outside.

 

How to deal with disruptions…

  1. Any notification can be turned off, so if you’re working on something, turn it off. I find that this is great for productiveness, I can work for much longer if I don’t see the emails appearing in my inbox and all the social media stuff appearing on my computer and iPhone.
  2. Give the dog something to chew on which will keep him entertained while you’re working, or if it’s walk time, then take him out.
  3. I have found that when there’s lots of speaking on the radio and it’s distracting me from my work (usually if I’m writing something I need to concentrate on) I mute it (in fact I have just done that so I can get this post finished). Mute is a handy tool, use it more!

 

How to improve your well-being…

  1. If you’re not feeling 100% then take a break, if you have deadlines then prioritise these and then set a time where you can take a break. If you set aside some time to relax you’ll get on with your work more efficiently as you’ll be looking forward to relaxing.
  2. Stress over a long period of time can really inhibit your working day, so you need to stop and look at what is causing the stress. Money worries? Workload? Personal problems? Try to write down what is causing your stress and find ways of dealing with it, the stress won’t go away overnight but just by acknowledging the problems on paper will commit you to taking the first steps.
  3. Take a break – You must get outside in the fresh air everyday, I used to be really bad at this. I used to sit at my desk all day, and then I got a dog. He forces me to get outside at least twice a day and I feel much better for it. Sometimes having to take the dog for his walk isn’t good for getting things done, but once you’re in a routine it does get better. Even if you go out for a 5 minute walk around the block at lunchtime, it will give you enough energy to get the rest of your work done.

Here are some apps that I feel help my well-being.

Take a Break! – Guided Meditations for Stress Relief

iSleep Easy – Meditations for Restful Sleep

 

How to deal with clutter…

  1. This is such an easy thing to achieve but I am my own worse enemy sometimes. Just spend 10 minutes each morning or evening tidying your office, making sure things have been filed away, clearing your desk. Before I worked from home I used to be great at this, things have slipped a bit now, but I think that’s because I know it’s only me that has to look at the mess. But it only takes 10 minutes… 
  2. Housework causes me stress, I hate it… if I could afford one I would hire a cleaner! But recently I have managed to get it under some kind of control. Having pets with a lot of hair is the worst thing ever. I think you have to accept it, you’re going to spend the rest of your life clearing and cleaning. The best thing you can do is the same as with your office, spend 10-15 minutes each day (maybe at lunchtime) having a tidy up. If you do this each day, even if things are not spotless at least you’ll be less stressed.
  3. With the amount of things you can download onto your computer these days it soon ends up being very cluttered. If you start as you mean to go on, again this won’t be a long job. Every week check through your files and make sure they are in the relevant folders so you can easily find them again. Many people believe that it’s not necessary now because you can easily run a search of your whole computer, but what if you can’t remember what you named it? Better to have specific folders for specific files.

Here are my favourite apps which help me control my clutter:

Mailbox- Put Email In It’s Place

feedly – feed your mind

Finish – Overcome the clutches of procrastination with Finish, a busy iPhone user’s best friend.

 

What are your top productivity tips, I love to find out what other people do to increase their efficiency while working so please add your tips in the comments. I hope some of my advice is helpful, and look forward to hearing about yours.

 

Comments

  1. Back in the old days, before internet and when I wasn’t working from home, I found my best buy was an answer-phone. (There that shows my age, as back then voice-mail wasn’t around either).
    What had been causing me stress and distraction was my phone ringing as soon as I walked through the door from work. Work was pretty stressful, and coming home was like coming home to my sanctuary. Having a difficult person on the end of the phone was the last thing I needed right as I walked through the door.
    The answer-phone meant I could monitor the calls, and of course pick up if they were urgent (not sure they ever were) and provided me with room to breathe and make the call back when I was in the right frame of mind, less stressed and rested.

    I think it is very difficult in this day and age to turn off notifications etc, I am sure we believe we might miss something, and actually we rarely do.

    Good post Jo.
    Kathy recently posted..Ouessants arrive.My Profile

    • Thanks, I don’t often turn notifications off, but when I need to concentrate, it’s the only way to get things done.

      • Hi Jo, I was just looking around for info about best strategies for blogging and happened to come across your post. Productivity is important when trying to fit in blog posts amongst other things, and you’ve given loads of good ideas. My mobile phone contract recently expired so instead of buying the latest smartphone, I decided to dig out my old Sony Ericsson from about 6 years ago. It has no internet, Facebook, etc, just phone and text. My idea was I wanted to be free of my phone for a while. I was one of those people staring at my phone every second, checkign for message, looking at news etc. Very quickly, after only a day or so, I started to love the freedom of not feeling the urge to constantly look at my phone, and I felt my productivity definately improved!!
        Thought Id share that useless info with you lol!
        Keep up the good work!!!

        • Thanks for your comment Tracy… I really don’t think I could get rid of my iPhone, it’s like an extra hand for me! I do put it to one side sometimes so I can concentrate on something else, like a book or a film – and my 3G signal in France is rubbish, so I don’t tend to use it much outside. I mainly use it for business, finding articles to share on social media, it saves me so much time because if I did that on my computer during the day I would probably end up wasting so much time. :)

  2. As a homeschooling, writing, blogging, mom, wife, and house care specialist, the biggest thing that keeps me “on task” is getting up in the morning and setting a few goals for the day. I try to keep a list of what writing I need to accomplish, what lessons I want to teach, and what work the house needs. I have the hardest time writing once the kids are up because they are such busy bodies, so I get up 2-3 hours before I wake them, just to get any writing/editing/blogging done that I need to. Thanks for this great post!

    • Thanks Regina, I can see that having kids is really difficult. I have similar problems with the dog being a busy body! :)

  3. Thanks for this post, Jo – working from home does take discipline … and after 3 years of it I’m still learning what works best for me!

    I recently installed the LeechBlock Firefox Add-On which I have set up to block me from social media and Goodreads (oh, and ebay!) during book-writing time, etc. Just as importantly, I’ve also arranged for it to block me from my ‘work’ websites/blog etc. at weekends, when I know I need to rest (chronic health issue).
    So far it’s working well, and helps me avoid the frequent notifications or “must go and see if…” scenarios!

    The messy house is a separate issue, again related to the health condition, so that’s something else I’m tackling in baby steps. ;) Those seem to be the best way to get started with anything, especially when energy is in low supply!

    I do enjoy your blog posts; it just takes time to get round all the writers and bloggers I follow. You come into my email inbox so I can catch up ‘later’. ;)

    • Thanks for your comments Joanna, and for the way you work with so many distractions. I’m pleased you enjoy my posts, having them arrive in your inbox is a good way of catching up on things, I do the same with many of the blogs I follow. :)

  4. Well I’m always productive… in social media. Kidding aside, I make sure that I’m off any distractions whenever I sit down to work. Only way I can focus throughout the day,

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