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The ultimate career dream is to be able to work your own hours and eliminate all the horrible KL traffic jam by working from home. It can be incredibly liberating to be able to work from home, but also incredibly distracting. One can even argue that it is harder to maintain a laser-like focus at home.
I find that in an office environment, since it’s more formal, I’m more productive! Truth be told, who can maintain a professional image on the phone with your mom screaming “Vanessaaaaaa…time for lunch!” in the background. For those living the dream like I am, you are definitely nodding your head in agreement at these productivity killers:
1. Noise (Husband, Kids, Mother, Mother-In-Law, etc)
When you’re trying to design the world’s best poster, or write the next award winning article, the clock stops, you are in this perfect zone and you feeling the groove… ‘Inspired, Creating and I am so Awesome’ then suddenly BOOM, “Hey hun, check out this cat video, it’s hilarious”. The beautiful train of thought is gone!
People need you. Your mom wants you to run an errand, your kids want to play, your dog wants to come up and sit on your laptop (it’s either that or the keyboard). But…your concentration breaks, and you’ve lost the mojo!
If you want to focus on certain important tasks, like the designing or creating, try to remove your irritating husband, lol. Okay not really, he is super adorable. However, your work space must be a ‘Restricted Area’ from those around you. Try to make it a dedicated work space that encourages inspiration and is free from people interrupting you. Design a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign that goes around you, your chair or door. Have a family meeting to explain how important this 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time is to your career.
Turning off your phone is also important, which brings us to our next productivity killer.
2. Personal messaging – Skype/Whatsapp/Facebook
According to most researches and important people, this is by far the biggest productivity killer of them all. Everyone is addicted to their phones and are constantly on them. Do you know that the millennials check their phones up to 74 times a day? I mean, those Pokemons are not going to catch themselves right?
But we are all guilty of the habit of replying messages instantly no matter if it is from your loving family sending you mouthwatering dinner pics, to that irritating work mate asking the same question again or your best friend gushing bout her new boyfriend. There’s also that annoying feeling gnawing when the phone beeps and you’re not checking your messages, some #FOMO maybe that seems to be running your life at the moment. Every chat message interruption is like a work mate tapping you on the shoulder with yet another question.
We just need to ‘Keep Calm & Chill’, it’s not life and death and most messages can wait for an hour before you respond, if it’s so important they would call!
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My ultimate goal is a zero inbox but that doesn’t mean I go about checking it every time one email comes through. Those 2-5 minutes tend to add up to a lot. It is also easy to kill off your productivity when you’re doing something, then interrupted by an email and you are spending time replying to that email for a while, and then maybe another would come in and you get stuck replying that one and when you finally come back to your work, you’ve lost track and momentum. It is an endless cycle.
Learning to focus is not easy but try to pick one inbox-free time slot that is bearable for you. 15 minutes, 30 mintues, an hour… as long as you’re not checking that phone or email every time one comes by!
4. Social Media
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Facebook and other social media sites are smart. They have designed such a brilliant website that keeps you looking at it for hours. How many of you have watched a friend’s shared video, only to go on and watch ten other videos in the feed? And stalking your long lost friends is just so much fun from behind a screen!
Treat your work time as precious. While it may be flexible, leave social media for social times, like after work or when your mom is nagging you. Beware of the black hole of Youtube, 9GAG and Buzzfeed browsing! 😛
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If you’re working from home, the fridge is near, so are snacks and all sorts of distractions. You transform into a mouse, constantly going to the fridge and checking out what you can eat. Either that or you snack on unhealthy sugary or high-carb food that is going to kill your productivity big time.
High-fat, high-sugar lunches make us sleepy and have low energy by 3 p.m so it’s important to go heavy on the protein and healthy fats and easy on the carbs when choosing what you eat for lunch.
Choose wisely! Or you will find yourself in a sudden “can’t concentrate on work anymore” slump, feeling all tired and drowsy.
Oh wait, the bed is just a few metres away, zzzzz.
6. The Bed
Some people believe in napping for higher levels of productivity.The ultimate power nap is 20 minutes or slightly less; never more. Those people have not met me. If I even sit on the bed, I’ll be asleep in five minutes and probably would not wake up for at least an hour.
The bedroom is for sleep, so if you’re working from home, and plan to do some work, do not sit on the bed and work. Do not visit the bedroom, do not see the bedroom. It has some magic spell to lure you into napping, at least for me.
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Office or no office, the biggest problem is your phone and internet. Many times slow internet WiFi can affect your productivity while working too, which is why there are customisable home WiFi systems like Luma to help overcome this hurdle. Also, lock your phone away and imprison those shopping sites that are oh so tempting and let’s work on discipline. You won’t get it right at the first go but like any exercise regime or diet…stick to it and keep moving forward no matter how you stumble. Eventually, you will get there!