How To Master Working From Home By Baraa El Sabbagh, Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist, and Registered Dietician
How Can You Be More Productive At Home?
Are you currently reading this in your PJ’s, wondering how to get back on track with work? Been there, my friends. It’s tough to get a routine going amid all this chaos and confusion, but as always team, I’ve got your back! Whether you’ve already converted the living room into a working space or have given up on getting any work done, this post will be sharing a lot of tips and techniques to keep productivity high.
Don’t Feel Like Reading About Productivity Boosting? Try The Podcast!
There’s always the podcasts to listen to if you don’t feel like reading these posts. You can find them all on B for Better Health on all podcast platforms, like iTunes, Spotify, and the app on your phone called Podcast! Click here to listen to the episode on productivity while you do your chores or workout.
What Does Productivity Have To Do With Nutrition & Exercise?
Newcomers to my page are probably thinking, “Why isn’t this post about healthy eating and weight loss? ” The answer is because this blog is focused on all areas of self-improvement, and because I’ve worked from home for a while, and used to manage my own business in Lebanon, I’ve picked up a few effective ways along the way to increase productivity and get my work done.
ALSO, being productive can improve your time management, which will directly impact your daily eating habits, exercise performance, and desk achievements, all at once!
Setting Up The Right Work Space At Home
If you’re reading this during the coronavirus pandemic, then I know that you’re working from home. Some with kids, babies and lots of other distractions, but we’re all in this together and we’ve all had to get scrappy and creative with our new work environments. But I believe we can get through this peacefully, positively, and hopefully productively after reading this.
How To Stop Distractions During Work Hours
I’m sure you think this one is a no brainer, but right from the beginning you need to set some ground rules for the members of your household. My husband thought that both of us working in the same space meant random chats every once in a while, and we ended up interrupting each other’s work flow. If I was going to keep being distracted every 30 minutes, I wouldn’t get work done, which would make me feel frustrated. So the first thing to do is:
SET A SCHEDULE!
Put everything on your schedule: working out, office hours, cooking time, cleaning and chores, play time, video chats with friends and family, and even a coffee session with your partner. The great part of all this is the quality time we’re able to spend with our family.
The Importance Of Sleep (But Not Too Much)
- Sleep On It
The second tip I’m going to share with you is: get 7 - 8 hours of sleep every night. If you don’t, you will feel tired ALL DAY and you won’t have the energy or focus for anything. I don’t know about you, but there’s no amount of coffee that’s going to wake me up if I hadn't gotten a good night’s sleep. And if you’re feeling snacky, irritated and not focused, check in with yourself and see how many hours of sleep you’ve been getting.
I recommend you start your bedtime ritual around 9, that’s not when you’re sleeping, you’re just winding down. Make a nice chamomile tea and dim the lights in the house (my husband hates it when I do that but hey, I've got a schedule to keep up with). Turn off your phone to reduce blue light exposure and get in a sleepy state, sit in bed, read a book or try to journal, and call it a day.
- Setting An Alarm Is Essential
It’s easy to fall into the oversleeping hitting the snooze button trap. DON’T HIT THE SNOOZE. Wake up, you’re going to get used to this. The first day is hard but your body needs to get into a rhythm. Getting more than 8 hours of sleep is also not doing you any good, it only makes you more fatigued throughout the day. So 7-8 hours and UP on your feet!
Creating The Right Space To Work At Home
The space you’re working in at home could make all the difference between a productive day and a lazy one. If your desk isn’t the right size, your chair isn’t comfortable, or the lighting is bad, it’s going to be hard to focus!
These might sound like minor details, but trust me, once those things align, you’ll have eliminated any chance at distractions or discomfort. You’ll be happy to sit for hours and hours, working away. Of course, I don’t recommend you sit for hours at a time, try to get up and walk around every hour to avoid bringing your energy down and to uplift your mood.
The New York Times actually released a study on this, it’s called “Work. Walk. Work.” if you want to check it out. The study revealed that when employees walked for 5 minutes every hour instead of taking a long walk all at once, their moods improved and their productivity INCREASED!
I would recommend putting on some music if you can work with it in the background. Music is such an environment uplifter for me, so if it helps, put on a nice basic playlist, here's one from iTunes that I’ve been loving lately and a jazz set from Spotify. Enjoy!
Three Major Tips To Increase Productivity Working From Home
- Turn off your phone
- Put it face down
- Keep it in another room
This is one efficiency hack that’s GUARANTEED to work. If you want to take it a step further (which I haven’t done but may do in the future), disconnect instagram or delete it off your phone. Think about it: How often are you spending time mindlessly scrolling? If you know you’re doing a whole lot of it, then just imagine having an extra PRODUCTIVE hour in your day that’s usually reserved for Instagram.
Technology Can Help With Productivity
We’re blessed to live in a world with tons of apps and creative ways to organise ourselves. You could go the route of apps like Slack and Wunderlist, which are excellent ways to keep track of your tasks and time, especially if you share your tasks with other people.
Or you could do what I do, which is to use the Calendar and Reminder apps on your phone! I like to stay basic and not overwhelm myself by downloading hundreds of apps all at once. Take it easy and you’ll find the right method for you in no time!
Here’s how I manage my to do list: I literally put everything on my mind into that list. Then I open my Calendar app and start inserting each one of the tasks into the calendar with the time expected for me to finish that task. Here’s a screenshot:
See? It has everything from my workout, lunch hour, recording podcasts to baking oatmeal.
The Power Of Exercise And Productivity
The benefits of exercise are countless and I guarantee if you start your day with blood flowing and pumping, you’re going to feel 200 times better and up to do anything. If you were looking for personalised help, I could push and motivate you just as a trainer would, but ONLINE!
We could do one on one training sessions, or you could go for my home workout program, which has levels for beginner, intermediate, and experts. You could first try one of the workouts from my YouTube Channel and see if it’s up your alley. The whole family can join in for a group exercise, because a moving family is definitely a happy one.
The Importance Of Delegating
If you’re wasting time doing tasks that could be done by someone else, then my friend, you’re holding yourself back. There are certain times when hiring an expert to carry the load is essential. It’s always a good idea to ease up on some responsibilities, so you would have the time and energy to focus on things no one else can do but YOU!
Story time: How I Increased My Productivity With This Simple Hack
I hired a housekeeper to come once a week, on a Sunday. The house was nice and gleaming… until Monday evening, since that’s about the average time it takes for the house to get messy again. If I was working from home on a Tuesday, I couldn’t get anything done! I was tidying up and organizing the house because:
- It’s so easy to get distracted
- I didn’t want the mess to pile up again until next Sunday
In that situation, I realised it was worth my time and money to add an extra day for the housekeeper to visit. Because I was spending less time at my job and more time on a task that could be managed by someone else. So now the housekeeper comes Sunday and Wednesday and we manage to keep it tidy in between.
If you’re thinking, “But Baraa I don’t have the finances to hire an expert” which is a very valid concern, just take this into consideration: When you hire an expert to do a job you don’t have time to do, you’re going to be much more productive. Meaning you’ll be more successful at your job. Which also means you’ll be crushing your goals, getting more creative, money, and straight A’s.
How Meal Prep Will Transform Your Productivity
Meal prep is a saviour guys. Just think: it’s a couple of hours of work in the kitchen and you end up with 6 or 7 meals for the week! You want to make less decisions in your day because there’s something called decision fatigue. You don’t want to exhaust your decision capacity for the day on choosing what to eat. You want to have that already selected for you ahead of time, like from the weekend or the night before, max.
Prep your meals over the weekend to have those key ingredients and you’re set to go. If you love ordering food, you still can, but maybe save that for 1 day during the weekdays or for the weekend. That’s what I try to do. Restaurant foods are heavier and filled with artificial ingredients added for preservation, so you’re NOT going to be excited to get back to work if that’s what you’re eating. You’ll feel tired and bloated, which is not the ideal combination for productivity.
Want ideas on meal prep? I wrote a whole blog post about it if you’re interested!
Saying No Can Improve Your Mood
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned has been how to say no.
I was always pressured to meet someone for coffee, lunch, or just a chit chat, and I would break up my routine to do that. Warning: this might make me sound anti-social, but hear me out!
If you’re like me, you were raised to be a people pleaser, and it’s really hard to check out of that lifestyle. So you end up interrupting your work flow because you can’t say NO. I was finally able to break free of that habit and my productivity went through the roof! I’m not saying isolate yourself and cut off all friendships, but create and stick to your self proclaimed office hours, especially if you’re a freelancer or have flexible working hours.
I worked on fixing a schedule with the right amount of time allotted for my tasks, and when I would break away from that timetable, I’d find myself struggling to keep up or complete the things I wanted to do that day, which ultimately led to frustration and disappointment by the end of the day.
When you carve out time for socialising and entertainment, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more! Which is why you might see me at the mall on a Tuesday afternoon, during scheduled social time.
Last Tip For Improving Productivity
One last tip for a productivity boost is one you’re already doing… Listening to podcasts or reading articles that improve your wellbeing and boost your mood! The more tools and tips we gather, the more we’re bound to find something that works for us and our individual lifestyles.
I hope you were able to benefit from this post. These are all tried and tested methods by me, and I swear by them!
Good luck team.