Picture this scenario: It’s the end of the quarter, and there are two more days until the final overview presentation. You have to cram 5 days of work in just two agonizing days, shoot, what do you do? Drink a six pack of Guinness and cry yourself to sleep? Not quite, but I do like your taste in beer.
There are 5 tactics for being productive that I’ve adopted since I started working remotely. It was super difficult at first since I’m a professional procrastinator but it kind of became a habit now, like all repetitive things do.
Don’t get me wrong, I was getting stuff done before but I was feeling really stressed, and at the end of the day you feel like you’ve done nothing productive.
Okay, so in order to avoid that, I use these 5 tactics for getting work done.
1. Make a to-do list the day before.
The easiest way to avoid distraction is by starting the morning with a solid plan in place. To accomplish this, I like to close out my workday by jotting down my to-do list for the next day in advance. Making a to-do list helps me to be laser focused on the exact tasks I need to complete and it helps me a lot to look back and see what I’ve done in a specific day. This eliminates the feeling of “dang it I’ve done nothing productive today” because you can see exactly what you’ve achieved.
Now, making a to-do list seems easy and it really is, but there are a few tips for making the best out of it. You can add tasks to your to-do list in the Teamweek backlog but I prefer writing it down which brings me to my second point.
2. Write it down on paper.
When I started making a to-do list, I’ve used online apps like Todoist or my notes app. This has worked pretty well for me for a while and I still use todoist from time to time but everything changed when I bought an actual agenda. (The poor thing is pretty beaten up by now. Let’s say that my dog confused it with one of her toys for a couple of minutes. I would show you a picture of it but I am in Amsterdam right now for TheNextWeb conference!)
Writing tasks on paper is slower than typing it down on your laptop so it gives you more time to think about how to structure your tasks and which one is actually necessary.
And of course, scratching tasks off is more addictive than cocaine. Seriously, nothing feels better than knowing that you’ve finished a task and you get to scratch it off.
3. Prioritize tasks that take more energy and don’t be vague.
Being vague when you plan can work against you sometimes. It’s better to break tasks into pieces and approaching them systematically. We recommend starting with the difficult tasks in the morning since people are more productive between 9 and 12.
4. Block all distractions
I’ve learned about how to block distractions from Nina in the last article about how to stay focused while working remotely. There are tons of apps that can block distracting websites and so far SelfControl has worked pretty well for me. The irreversible nature of the app makes it so amazing. I’ll be honest, when I first blocked distracting websites I wanted to disable it after about an hour when I wanted to respond to a message on Facebook. Of course, I couldn’t do that without considerable effort.
For those of you who lack discipline and need some self control, well, SelfControl is the perfect tool for you.
5. Track your daily activities and see how you spend your time
We’ve been talking about time tracking a lot. Toggl is an amazing product for tracking your time or your billable hours. However, if you aren’t very interested in tracking time but you still want to see what you did all day, their latest project might work for you.
Supertoday is a lifelogging app that focuses on improving daily productivity. Supertoday uses your location info to automatically log your activities and Health app data for improved activity tracking, shows where your time goes and helps to make changes to unproductive daily routines. This is definitely an interesting concept and it works really well if you don’t want to put too much work in your time tracking but you still want to see how you are spending it.