Goals, Context, Chunks, Distractions - Framework to focus while working from home 🏠
Achieving peak productivity everyday is tough and here are quick tips which would help plan your day better while working from home.
Your personal productivity usually takes a hit while working from home vs. in an office environment. In the usual case, even when you're working remotely for your company, you also have the option of going to a co-working space nearby. That isn't an option for most of us right now. Add to that other distractions given you have to probably do everything by yourself e.g. cleaning, cooking, taking care of your kids etc.
In such situations, achieving peak productivity daily and getting things done is tough. You will have good days & bad days but regularly being at your productive best while WFH is a herculean task. So I want to share an extremely simple & generic framework that you can apply in your daily routine and get things done consistently.
I know you must be overloaded with productivity hacks & tips by now but this one's a fairly generic framework that asks for simple actions and gives you the flexibility to modify it to your own routine.
Finding it tough to focus while you're working from home?
You may have the habit of starting the day without any goals. No I am not talking about the routine tasks (replying to xx, review presentation etc.) on your todo list. By goals, I mean deep work items like writing an article or working on a new feature. You should have at least 1 and no more than 3 goals in a day. You can call it a productive day if you achieve all of your set goals.
We naturally tend to focus on routine tasks like replying to emails when we don't have goals. This is because routine tasks are low effort, quick result items, plus you may be wary of doing deep work items for a variety of reasons.
Pro-Tip: If you have more than 3 daily goals that you can think of, put the rest in a buffer list. On days when you get more time to work on your goals, pick up items from your buffer.
Minimise context switching
Most of us work on a variety of things during the day. You might have come out of a meeting and have a spare half hour before the next one begins. During that half hour, you're probably working on a deep work item like finishing up a section of your blog.
Context switching by nature is tough and you should do everything in your power to minimise it in your work day. A simple trick is to club similar activities together so that you can focus only on one area at a time. For example, consolidating meeting times, scheduling office hours, blocking time in your calendar for deep focus work.
Break large tasks into small chunks
You might have a mental block to pick up large tasks. For e.g. I feel exhausted when I have to write a 1000-word article and I don't have a single word written yet. It helps immensely to first figure what are the mental blocks causing you to procrastinate. You should then break the large task into small, independent chunks.
In my case, one of my goals would be to just complete the outline for an article. After that, each section will go in as a separate goal. This way I only focus on completing a particular part of the article and not worry about writing 1000 words.
Eliminate distractions while working from home
Distractions are your worst enemy when it comes to getting things done. You can categorise them into 2 types - Ones you can control, others that are out of your control. For e.g. Slack, email, social media are distractions in your control that you can avoid. Whereas calls from your family or attending to your kids/ pets are distractions out of your control.
Eliminate as many distractions as possible while you're working on your goal. I am able to keep my phone away from my desk for most time of the day, if that's not possible for you, at least keep it away for a couple of hours. Out of sight, out of mind philosophy really works here.
Pomodus allows you to plan your day, prioritize & focus while leveraging Slack to keep you in the zone. It silences notifications & lets colleagues know that you're heads-down & when you'll be done.