If you are self-employed and work from home on your computer, then the below 21 productivity tips would help you to boost your productivity and manage your time better. Productivity tips numbered #5, #6, #15, #16, #18 are my personal favorites.
Here are the 21 productivity tips:-
Productivity tip #1 Self-discipline
Self-discipline is very important for people working from home. You need to have tremendous amount of self-discipline to get the work done if you are working from home. This is because you are self-employed and do not have a boss to control you and give you instructions. You do not generally have any strict deadlines to complete your work. You can work as much as you want to and take as much time as you want to complete the work. This is especially true if you are a blogger who is not answerable to anyone instead of a freelancer who is answerable to his clients.
This is one of the advantages of being self-employed but it turns into a slight disadvantage if you are not self-disciplined. It is easy to waste time on unnecessary and unimportant things and lose your focus when working from home as you are alone and there is no one to keep a watch on you or control you. So many times, you end up doing less amount of work from home as compared to office when working as an employee.
If you are having trouble concentrating on the work and losing focus from time to time when working from home, then imagine that you are in an office working for your boss and the company. The boss being you yourself and the company being your business. Be your own boss, give instructions to yourself and set strict deadlines for the work to be completed. Fix a daily timing within which you will work for e.g. 9am to 3pm and strictly follow that timing. Also, fix a timing for having lunch for e.g. 1pm to 1:30pm. Create an environment, which is similar to an actual office. From time to time, think about the benefits, which you will get after completing the work. It will motivate you to work hard without losing focus.
Productivity tip #2 Get rid of distractions
Get rid of all the things, which distract you and make you, lose your concentration and focus on the work. When you are working, turn off your mobile or put it on silent mode and keep it in a place where you do not see it, block social media and other sites on your computer on which you spend a lot of time, disconnect the internet if you do not need it.
Choose a room in your house, which has no outside noise or least outside noise for doing your work. If your house is located in a crowded place, where it gets a lot of outside noise, which you cannot escape, then wear a big headphone, which covers your ears, or a noise-cancelling headphone while working to block and reduce the outside noise. If it is not sufficient then play some music on low volume through the headphone.
Close the door of your room while working. If you are living with your family, tell the family members to not disturb you in your working hours unless it is necessary. Also, tell your friends to not disturb you in your working hours unless it is really necessary.
In addition to this, find out all other things, which distract you while working and prevent you from concentrating and focusing on your work. Get rid of them too.
Productivity tip #3 Furniture and posture
As you are going to sit for a long period for working, it is important that you select the furniture carefully. Choose furniture, which is of good quality and durable, which would not break or crack easily. Make sure that the chair on which you are going to sit is comfortable and on which you can sit for a long period. Select the chair according to your body’s weight and size. The chair should support your back properly. Give attention to your posture while sitting. Your feet should not remain in the air while sitting. They should always be on the ground. Keep your back straight while sitting and give it support of the chair from time to time.
Make sure that the desk on which you are going to keep your computer is spacious, can easily accommodate the computer and has some extra space to keep some other essential items on it, which you want and enough space to move your hands freely on it. While typing make sure that, you rest your hands on the desk or on the chair’s arms and they are not in the air.
There should be ideal distance between your eyes and the computer’s screen. The screen should not be too close to the eyes or too far away from the eyes. You should be able to read the text on screen without straining your eyes.
Using an uncomfortable furniture or having a wrong posture leads to fatigue and decreases productivity. So select good comfortable furniture and maintain the correct posture.
Productivity tip #4 To-do list
Always create a to-do list of all the tasks, which you have to do. Creating to-do list is important because you may not remember all the tasks, which you have to do and forget some of them. It will also give less stress to your brain as you do not need to remember all the tasks. You can create to-do list on a piece of paper by writing down all the things which you have to do or you can use a mobile app to create it by typing all the things which you have to do.
You can follow below method of creating to-do list if you want to.
Create and maintain three types of to-do lists:-
Yearly to-do list:- Yearly to-do list would contain a list of all the things, which you have to do in the whole year. Create this list each year in the last week of the previous year i.e. the year before or in the first week of the new Year. Ideally you should create the list before the start of New Year so that you can start working on it from the first day of New Year. For e.g. 2021’s to-do list in last week of December 2020.
Monthly to-do list:- Monthly to-do list would contain a list of all the things, which you have to do in the whole month. Create this list each month on the last day of the previous month i.e. the month before or on the first day of the new month. Ideally you should create the list before the start of new month so that you can start working on it from the first day of new month without wasting any days. For e.g. October’s to-do list on last day of September.
Daily to-do list:- Daily to-do list would contain a list of all the things, which you have to do in the whole day. Create this list each day on the previous day at night before sleeping i.e. the day before or in the morning after waking up. Ideally you should create the list before the start of new day so that you can start working on it from the beginning of new day without wasting any time. For e.g. 11 September’s to-do list on 10 September’s night.
You can also create an weekly to-do list if required. You can create physical to-do lists on a paper or digital to-do lists on a mobile app or computer’s notepad. It’s up to you. I create my yearly to-do list physically on a paper and the monthly and daily to-do lists digitally on the mobile app. You can also prioritize the tasks in the to-do list according to their importance. After completing a task in the to-do list make sure to tick it off as finished.
Productivity tip #5 Best time
This is one of my favorite productivity tips and very effective.
The best time of the day is in the morning because our mind and body is fresh in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Our mind is sharper and works better in the morning. We can get things done faster and in a better way in the morning. If you have some important or difficult task to do, then do it in the morning. You will find it easier to do in the morning than any other time of the day. Try to do as much work as possible in the morning. To do more work in the morning, you need to get more morning time. To get more morning time, you need to wake up early and to wake up early you need to sleep early too. So make it a habit to sleep early at night and wake up early in the morning next day.
The second best time of the day is in the evening. Therefore, if you are not able to do or complete an important or difficult task in the morning, then you can do it in the evening. Do less important and easy tasks in the afternoon and at night. This is because one generally feels lazy in the afternoon especially after having a heavy lunch so cannot fully concentrate on the work and one feels tired and sleepy at night after working for the whole day.
Important and difficult tasks require your most attention and concentration. So plan your day in such a way that you do all the important and difficult tasks in the morning and all the least important and easy tasks in the afternoon and at night.
Productivity tip #6 Alternative
This is also one of my favorite productivity tips which I personally follow in my life and recommend you to do so.
Always have one alternative or option for everything so that you will not be stuck. Your work will not stop and you will not lose time. For example:-
If you have two computers – one desktop and one laptop. Let’s say your laptop has some problem. In that case you can use your desktop to do the work and vice versa.
If you have two internet connections – one broadband and one mobile internet i.e. 4G. Let’s say your broadband internet is down. In that case you can use the mobile’s internet on laptop through Wi-Fi or on the desktop through tethering.
If you have two mobile phones. One of them is having a problem. You can then use the other.
You can clearly see from the above examples the importance of having an alternative. It reduces the dependency on a thing and you can continue doing your work without interruption. You can think of other alternatives according to your work requirements and have them. Time is very valuable and you cannot waste it because of the lack of other option. The alternative acts like a backup, which you can use when required. Keep an alternative ready for all the things without which you cannot work and also for other things in general.
However, do not be carried away with this and get too many options for a thing. Having too many options will have an opposite effect. It will increase your costs and you will lose more time in their maintenance than the time, which you intended to save by having them. One alternative is sufficient for most of the things.
Productivity tip #7 Perfection
If you are trying to be a perfectionist then stop trying to be one if you want to get your work done in time. Always do your best but do not look for perfection. Nobody is perfect in this world and there is no such thing as perfect work. Even if you do a task perfectly according to you, others many not find it perfect because the idea of perfection generally changes from person to person. You cannot call any work as perfect because there is always a room or scope for improvement. You can always do a task better. There is no end to how much better you can do it. There is no point running behind perfection. You will never achieve it. So stop trying to be a perfectionist because you will never become one.
Perfection wastes time as you check the work repeatedly and make changes to it in order to make it better. It leads to stress and delays the completion of work, as you never really feel satisfied with the work and feel that you can do it better. You also need to remember that time is limited and you have many other tasks to do. If you spend a lot of time on a particular task in order to make it perfect, it will not only delay the completion of that task but it will also delay the start of other tasks and their completion. You will never be able to complete the work in time. So instead of trying to do each task perfectly, do every task to the best of your ability.
Productivity tip #8 Multitasking
Multitasking is doing multiple tasks at the same time i.e. simultaneously. The purpose of multitasking is to save time. When done correctly Multitasking can save your time as you can get more things done in the same amount of time. However, multitasking has a problem. When you handle many tasks at a time, you do not fully concentrate or focus on one single task. Your attention is divided among multiple tasks. Therefore, you may make mistakes and the overall quality of your work may suffer. You may lose more time in correcting the mistakes later instead of saving time. So consider multitasking only if you are confident that you can handle multiple tasks simultaneously without letting it affect the quality of your work.
If you are not sure whether you should multitask or not, then try multitasking for few days and see whether it suits you or not. If it suits you then fine but if it does not suit you, then accept it and attempt only one task at a time with full concentration.
Whether to multitask or not also depends on which type of task you are doing. If you are doing an important or difficult task then it makes sense to fully concentrate on it and give your full attention to it instead of doing some other task along with it. If you are doing a less important, easy or routine task then you can do other similar tasks along with it.
Therefore, to conclude the advice would be that do not multitask while doing important and difficult tasks. You can multitask while doing less important, easy and routine tasks if you want to.
Productivity tip #9 Easy and routine tasks first
Important and difficult tasks require your full attention and concentration. Therefore, your mind should be free so that you can fully concentrate on them. If you have some other easy and routine tasks to do, it will be in your back of mind that you need to do them too. Therefore, you may not fully focus on the important and difficult talks while doing them, which may lead to mistakes and low quality work. Before doing any important or difficult task, get all the easy and routine tasks done. This way you will feel relieved of doing them and can fully concentrate on the important or difficult task.
You will also get a sense of accomplishment and confidence from doing those easy and routine tasks and take that confidence in doing important and difficult tasks.
Easy and routine tasks generally do not require a lot of time to do, they are more in number and it is easy to forget them. Therefore, if you do them first, you do not need to remember them. Treat the easy and routine tasks as warm-up before doing the important and difficult tasks.
Productivity tip #10 Do not overburden yourself
As a self-employed person, you can decide how much you want to work. You can work as much as you want to or as little as you want to. No one decides your work other than you and your work is not limited to a specific task or tasks unlike the employees working in office. Therefore, there is tendency among the self-employed people to overwork.
Do not overburden yourself with too much work. Know your limitations. Know what you can do and what you cannot. Find out how much work you can handle without being burnout or stressed out. Life is not all about work and money. There are also other important things in life and you need to devote some of your time for those things.
If you accept too much work, you would remain constantly busy and under pressure to complete it and lose the enjoyment of doing the work. You will also get less time for other things in life such as hobbies and recreation.
Having too much work also makes you unmindful as you are constantly thinking about the work you have to do so you do not fully focus on the work which you are currently doing. Your mind always remains occupied by something.
Heavy workload also affects your health and sleep. It affects your relationship with others as you get less time to spend with your parents, wife/husband, children, relatives and friends.
Productivity tip #11 Eating and sleeping
Fix a time at which you will have your breakfast, lunch and dinner and follow that timing every day. Eat sufficient amount of food without hurrying no matter how much busy you are. If you are busy on a day, then you may delay eating for some time or eat less but do not skip the meals.
Fix a time at which you will sleep at night and the time at which you will wake up in the morning and follow that timing every day. Have sufficient amount of sleep. Sleep for six to seven hours at night no matter how much busy you are. You may sleep less on a busy day but never skip the sleep.
Eating and sleeping are very important in a person’s life without which he cannot survive. Everything comes later. Improper, insufficient eating and irregular eating timings give rise to health problems. Similarly insufficient sleep and irregular sleep timings also affects the health adversely. So always, give priority to food and sleep over work. Only when you are fit and healthy, you can do your best work.
Another thing, you should never ever avoid or delay nature’s calls no matter how much busy you are. It will lead to various kinds of health issues if you do it regularly.
Productivity tip #12 Take regular breaks
Take breaks from your work at regular intervals. You may have fixed your working hours daily say 9 am to 4 pm but that does not mean you should continuously work in that period. Other than the lunch break and other required breaks, you should take a break of at least five minutes every hour. In the break time you can take a walk, drink water, tea/coffee, juice, etc. Do not open social media sites or non-work related sites in the break. Just get up and move your legs.
This is the advantage self-employed people working from home have, which others do not have. Self-employed people can take breaks whenever they want unlike the employees whose break timings are fixed by their office. So make use of this advantage, which you have.
Working for long periods without breaks is a bad idea. It will lead to fatigue. Your body and especially your mind (as you are doing mental work) needs some rest from time to time. Taking breaks will refresh your mind and restore your mental energy and you will work again with great enthusiasm.
Of course, there are exceptions to everything. There are times when you cannot take regular breaks maybe because you are working on some important project with a strict deadline and are pressed for time. There are times when you are in a flow and doing your best work so taking a break may not be sensible as the break may break your flow. Apart from such exceptions, you should regularly take breaks.
The five-minute break for every one hour worked is just a guideline and not a rule. You can change it as per your requirements. You may take a break of 10 minutes or 15 minutes after every hour of work. The important thing is taking regular breaks whatever the duration.
In addition to taking regular breaks within the day, you should also take a day off from work in a week. It may be Saturday or Sunday or any other day as per your choice. On that day, you should not work at all and do something different not related to the work. You can pursue your hobby, go for a short trip to some nearby place, go to your relatives place or just spend some time at home with your family members. It will rejuvenate and energize you and you will work with even more enthusiasm and interest from the next day.
Productivity tip #13 Organize
Organize your workplace i.e. the room in which you work. Make sure that you do not fill the workplace with unnecessary things. Keep only the work related and other required things in workplace and arrange all the things properly. Keep the workplace clean and tidy.
Similarly organize your desk. Declutter the desk if it is cluttered. Keep only the frequently required things on desk and keep all the less frequently required things in drawer.
Do not scatter things in the workplace and on the desk. Keep all the things in their respective places after working so that you can find them easily next time when you start working. Otherwise, you will waste time in finding them and it would delay your work.
Also, organize your computer/laptop. Delete all the unnecessary and junk files and folders. Create a separate drive on your computer/laptop and keep all the work related files and folders on that drive so that you can find them easily.
Before starting the work, gather all the things which you require so that there is no unnecessary break in between causing loss of momentum.
Productivity tip #14 Know your computer
Your computer is the most important thing as you do most of your work on it. Therefore, it helps to know your computer and its capabilities and features. You should know the various features of your computer’s operating system. Maybe some of the feature would be useful in your work or help you to save some time. Take some time to learn about your computer and its operating system. You can find out some tips and tricks for using your computer more effectively and efficiently.
Also, learn the various keyboard shortcuts and use them. Learn your operating system’s keyboard shortcuts i.e. Windows or Mac as well as the keyboard shortcuts of any software, which you use for e.g. Microsoft Office. Some software also allow you to assign your own custom keyboard shortcuts for the various functions in place of the default keyboard shortcuts. Using mouse for long periods strains the hands and tires you. Using keyboard is much more convenient and saves time. So learn all keyboard shortcuts of your operating system and the various software, which you use. Make it a habit to use keyboard instead of mouse wherever possible.
Thoroughly learn or master the various software, which you regularly use for doing your work for e.g. Excel, WordPress, Photoshop, etc.
Also improve your typing speed if it is slow.
Productivity tip #15 Write or type
This is another of my favorite productivity tips which I strongly recommend you to follow.
Our mind constantly gets new ideas and thoughts while working or doing something or sitting idle. For e.g. some business strategy, blog post idea, etc. Write those ideas and thoughts down as you get them instead of remembering them. While working always keep a piece of paper or notebook on your desk so that you can write down the ideas and thoughts which crop in your mind or use your computer’s notepad and type them down. If you are somewhere outside and not in your workplace, then use your mobile to store those ideas and thoughts or you can keep a piece of paper or small diary in your pocket and write them down.
By writing or typing the ideas and thoughts, your mind would be free, as you do not need to remember them. You can again concentrate on your work or whatever activity you were doing. Your brain already has lot of work to do. So do not increase its workload by asking it to remember things.
You should use your brain to think and not to remember things. Human brain is not capable of remembering all the things. So you may forget that idea later or if you have got many ideas, you may forget some of them. Do not clutter your brain by storing ideas and thoughts. Your brain’s job is to generate ideas and think and not to store them.
Whenever you get some idea or thought in your mind immediately write or type it before you forget it and not later.
Productivity tip #16 Small rewards
This is again one of my favorite productivity tips which is very effective to get work done.
There are certain tasks, which you do not feel like doing maybe because they are difficult or boring. Therefore, you keep postponing them. You procrastinate. However, you have no other option but to complete them. When you encounter any such unpleasant task, promise yourself some small reward if you complete it.
The reward could be anything such as eating your favorite food, going to a small trip, buying something, taking a day off, etc. The thought of reward will act as a motivation to do the task. At the time of doing the task, keep remembering about the reward, which you have promised yourself after completing the task.
Therefore, even if you feel like quitting the task, the thought of getting the reward will keep you going. Finally, after completing the task, fulfill your promise. Reward yourself.
Productivity tip #17 Utilize waiting time
Sometimes you have no option but to just wait. For e.g. waiting at bus or train station for the bus or train to arrive, sitting in the bus or train, waiting for your number at the doctor’s clinic, etc. Sometimes the waiting time can be long. This waiting time is just a waste of time. Most people do nothing or just open social media sites or play games on their mobile phones during the waiting time. Instead, you can use it for doing some work.
When you know that you are going to have waiting time, decide in advance the tasks, which you will do in that time. Do only easy and less important tasks in the waiting time, as you do not have full concentration, enough time and all the resources to do important or difficult tasks.
Productivity tip #18 Just start
This is one of my favorite productivity tips too that is simple but very useful.
Sometimes you cannot decide or you are not sure which task to do first. You are stuck. You do not know where to start.
This may happen because you have too many tasks to do on a day or you are in a bad mood or any other reason. In such a situation, just pick any task which you like and start doing it. Do not waste time in thinking. The more you think, more difficult it would be for you to begin.
Getting started is important. Once you start and complete the first task, you will feel better and confident and you will get clear idea of what to do next.
Productivity tip #19 Work from somewhere else
You daily work from the same workplace in your home. Occasionally work from some other place than your home. If you have a second home, work from there or work from your friend’s or relative’s house if it is empty and if they give permission or sit in a library or study room or even a park to do your work.
Working in the same environment, i.e. your home day and day out would bore you after some time and you will feel the need for change. This is the advantage self-employed people have. They can work from anywhere and can change their workplace anytime when they want to. The employees working in office do not have this flexibility. They have to work from the same workplace daily. So make use of this advantage that you have.
How frequently you should work from other place or from which other place you should work depends on you and the options, which you have.
Productivity tip #20 Socialize
As you work in your home office alone for most part of the day, you do not meet people face to face unlike office where people interact with their colleagues and boss. You lose connection with the outside world as you work from home alone. You do not come into contact with people other than your family members. So you may feel a bit lonely.
Therefore, at least once in a day after finishing your work go outside home for some time. You may go in a public park, gym or any other place, which you like. Meet some of your friends there or people whom you know. Interact with them. Even few words are enough. Even if you do not meet or talk to people, you will notice people around you. That will make you feel less lonely.
Do not just sit at home all day. Go out and when you are out do not think about work. Think about other things if you want. Ideally do not think about anything. Give some rest to your brain. Just relax.
Note:- Do not socialize on social media.
Productivity tip #21 Analyze
If you feel that you are not productive enough and not able to do much in the available time or you are struggling to complete your tasks in time, then it is time to analyze.
Think about how you spend your day. What are the activities you do? How many of those activities are essential? Are you spending time on unnecessary activities? Where are you losing time or who is wasting your time? What can you do to get some more time? Have you accepted too much work? Are you slow in doing certain task? If yes then how can you do it faster? These are some of the questions, which you should ask yourself.
Occasionally you should sit down, thoroughly analyze your routine and the way you work even if you feel that you are productive. You will know what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, where there is scope for improvement and whether you are on right track or not.
You also need to accept the fact that time is limited and you cannot do everything in that limited time. So you need to decide what the most important things are and give them priority and focus on them first.
Hope you enjoyed reading the above productivity tips and would use them to increase your own productivity.