Over the years I’ve been employed in different industries in different environments.
From postproduction studios and administrative offices to retail stores, I toiled away on the clock, and, under my boss’ watchful eye, for much of my working life I always felt moderately productive.
It wasn’t until I began working from home as an editor and writer nearly a decade ago that I realized how little I was getting accomplished in a traditional work environment, compared to performing my duties while in my own space.
I’m now more productive than ever, and I attribute much of that to following these productivity tips.
I’ve always found exercising at night to hype me up too much instead of winding me down, so I prefer to do my workouts in the morning. I hit the gym early to get in some hardcore sweat sessions before heading home to have a quick shower, grab a coffee, and sit down to work.
I find that getting my body moving first thing also gets my brain in gear so that I’m awake, focused, and ready to conquer my day. Even if you’re not doing cardio or weight lifting, just taking the dog out for a brisk walk can help get you ready to seize the day.
Maybe you have a fitness tracker that reminds you when you’ve been sedentary too long (typically once an hour, at least on my Apple Watch). If not, you can set your own timer on your phone or even online to remind you to stand up and get your blood flowing again at regular intervals. This is not only good for your body but also your brain.
I find that when I stand up at least once an hour, I can sort of shake off the haze that comes over me when I’m focused on one task for a long time. When I sit back down, I feel refreshed and ready to get back to it. Bonus tip: The better hydrated you are, the more often you’ll have to get up and use the bathroom, so that might be helpful here, too.
Social media is a time suck during my free time, and I can’t afford to have it ruining my work hours too. While it’s fine to take a little break now and then to browse the web, I try to ensure I’m using that time wisely — say, to catch up on the local news or look up a recipe to make for dinner that night. I know if I get on Twitter or Facebook, I can kiss goodbye to valuable time.
I now have enough self-control to just avoid going to those sites while I’m trying to accomplish a particularly large or pressing task, but if you don’t, you could always use a plugin or website to do it for you. (I recommend the Google Chrome add-on StayFocused to keep you on task.)
Whether you can do this depends on your profession, your company’s policies, and how timely your work is. The standard 9-to-5 isn’t for everyone, and if you’re working on projects that don’t adhere to those hours, there’s no reason you should have to, either.
Maybe you’re a morning person and love getting up at 6 and cracking on with the day’s tasks bright and early. Or maybe you’re a night owl who works best in the later hours of the day. I’m the former and, thankfully, my boss doesn’t seem to mind. As long as my work’s done that day, it doesn’t matter what time it happens.
If you can swing this, it’ll make you way more productive.
When I’ve finished a given day’s tasks, I don’t simply close up shop, even if I’d prefer to lounge in front of the TV. Instead, I look into the week ahead and see what else I have coming up and if I can make a dent in the workload starting now. Doing so means I have much more wiggle room if things come up the next day or later that week and I don’t get too far behind.
Again, this isn’t possible for all jobs, but if it is for you, I highly recommend it. It’s way better than getting stressed when you fall behind later down the line.
Originally published on Business Insider.
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