This year, Singapore is clearly in WFH mode. Working From Home can be one of the most rewarding experiences if you have the discipline to stay the course. It's easy to work for someone else who tells you what to do, but when you have the freedom to do as you please suddenly staying on task can be a daunting challenge.
I've worked from home for the last seven years. At first, it was not easy, especially learning how to manage my time accordingly. Throughout the years, I tested and implemented several techniques to stay more focused and productive. Now knowing what works and does not my work ethic is at an all-time high. So today I'll share with you the seven best productivity hacks.
1. Write a To-Do List The Night Before
If you often feel paralyzed by procrastination or want to get more done during the day, then try making a nightly to-do list. Each night before bed write down the six most important things you wish to accomplish the following day.
A lot of people like to write their to-do list in the morning. I do not advise this. If you write your list with a pen and paper the night before, the muscle movement from your hand will have a positive impact on how your brain stores that information. So the next day you have laser-like focus and a nagging subliminal message telling you what you need to do next.
2. Listen to Music While Working
Did you know listening to music you like while working boosts creativity and productivity? According to research, low bpm music (beats per minute), can boost productivity by 16%, while fast bpm music can increase productivity by 31%.
However, studies found students who studied listening to fast music with lyrics had their memory impaired. So the key takeaway is the music should not have lyrics and preferably have a slow tempo or change of notes. I listen to classical music or video game soundtracks, which are specifically made not to break attention!
3. Do 10 Push Ups Each Time You Procrastinate
One in five people are procrastinators, that's 20% of the population. The problem with procrastination is the inability to get done what you need to do, until panic sets in due to a deadline with a consequence, like failing a class. Yet, setting a deadline for yourself does not really set in a panic because quite frankly it's hard to punish yourself.
So the next time you procrastinate do ten push-ups, no this is not to punish yourself. This brutal physical act helps turn off your autopilot mode, rushing blood to the brain and giving you a fleeting moment of self-control. Usually, this is just enough to get started on what you needed to be doing. And it does work, I can attest to that.
4. Take a Twenty Minute Power Nap
I remember watching an interview with America's sweetheart, "Jennifer Anniston". She was discussing how incredibly busy her schedule is; that she barely had time to sleep at night. So she began to take twenty-minute power naps, sometimes just meditating when she did not have time to lay down. She proclaimed how it changed her life, helping to keep her productive.
Science has proven a stage 2 or twenty-minute nap boosts learning and motor learning skills. At the same time, a thirty-minute nap boosts decision-making skills and memory. So the next time you're feeling slow and not working at the pace you want, take a break to go nap. However, avoid sleeping longer than 45 minutes, or you'll fall into REM sleep and awake feeling groggy.
5. Turn Off Your Autopilot
Did you know you are on autopilot for nearly half the day? Your heart will beat in a regular pattern when you are on autopilot. And when you are not in control, it can be hard to get done what you need to do. Luckily, there's a powerful breathing exercise that can turn off the autopilot.
You just breathe in slowly for ten seconds, then exhale slowly for ten seconds. After doing this for ten minutes, your heart will switch to an irregular beat. It's so effective it's been proven recovering alcoholics with an irregular heartbeat were more likely to resist a drink than those with a regular heartbeat, who are on autopilot.
6. Take a Nature Walk
Working from home comes with its fair share of stress. Unlike a regular job where you can decompress at home, you don't have that escape anymore. That's why I recommend going on a nature walk for at least thirty minutes a day. Cognitive psychologists have found you will feel less stressed and more focused after taking a nature walk.
There are so many beautiful parks here in Singapore. With a near-perfect pedestrian infrastructure, you can easily walk outside and enjoy the scenery that instils serenity. The goal is to relieve work-related stress, so put on your most comfortable pair of Birkenstock or Fly Flot sandals and enjoy a stroll next time you feel you need a break.
7. Remove Constant Distractions
If you intensely focus on your work for thirty minutes or more, you will enter a flow state. Your productivity will maximize because you are so deeply concentrated on what you are doing. Imagine a basketball player in the middle of a game. He does not have any other thoughts in his mind other than the game. He is in a state of flow.
When surrounded by constant distractions, it's almost impossible to enter this flow state. So remove all of the constant distractions in your environment. Turn off your phone, ask your partner to manage the kids, turn off social media notifications, etc. You already know what constant distractions you have, now eliminate them from your environment.
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