Do you wake up every day on the top of your game ready to solve the most complicated issues on your to do list? No? Me either. One of the tricks to remaining productive is to learn to work according to my mood. What does this mean? Let me explain.
This concept is true if you work in an office, but even more so if you work from home and are responsible for managing your work schedule. There are several factors that influence our ability to tackle difficult projects.
- Rest. Did you get a good night’s sleep? You are much more likely to wake up and jump into a task that requires concentration if you are alert and rested.
- What’s on your mind? We all have follow up items or projects that we can’t stop thinking about. Sometimes we have to clear one or more of these projects before we can truly focus on other issues.
- Time Blocks. Look at your calendar before you start your day. If you have a meeting scheduled at 9:00 a.m., don’t start a three hour project at 8:00 a.m. Schedule time on your calendar for the larger, more important projects. Protect that time just as if it was a meeting with a key customer.
- Resources. Do you have everything you need available to complete the project? Try to line up your resources and background information prior to starting your project.
- Distractions. If you work out of the home, you probably have to deal with distractions in the form of family members or other responsibilities around the house. Schedule your focused time when you know you are not going to be interrupted.
One of the secrets to staying productive is to always be working on something of value. If I have five things on my to-do list for the day, one is a very important and complicated project, two are short, simple tasks, and three are ones that require the help of others. We have probably all heard of the concept of “Big Rocks First” as taught in Stephen Covey’s time management program. In this exercise, we are taught to tackle the large projects first on our schedule and fit in the smaller, more flexible ones, around the “big rocks.”
I generally try to work by that concept, starting my morning with one of the more challenging tasks on my list. There are days, however, that within five minutes, I can tell I am not ready to jump into that topic. I then have two choices: 1) Force myself to focus on that project, or 2) Put that one aside and complete one or more of my shorter projects.
There are times due to deadlines that I may not have an option and must complete the difficult task, but the majority of times there is flexibility in my schedule. Rather than floundering trying to get started on the difficult project, I will put it aside and complete one of the easier ones. This builds positive momentum in my day and helps me hit the more difficult task with a success already behind me.
The key is: Don’t waste even five minutes of your day! If you want to get the absolute most out of each day, learn to recognize what type of task you are ready to conquer at any given moment. There are times when all I can handle is a project that I have done a hundred times before and could probably accomplish with very little concentration. It is still something that must be done when I review my to-do list at the end of the day.
Another tip is to group tasks that require similar skills and levels of concentration. For example, I have several articles to write each week and am often working on a book project. I must be in a special mood to sit down and write. If I am not ready for this challenge, I will stare at my computer and nothing with flow from my brain. When I am ready to write, I will usually crank out several articles in a short period of time.
The longer you work from home, the better you will become at gauging your mood and other factors, allowing you to maintain maximum productivity.
Remote Office Consulting, LLC was formed to help organizations evaluate and implement an integrated approach to utilizing remote employees. Even those organizations that have had successful telecommuting programs for years can benefit from ROC consulting and training services. For more information, visit www.RemoteOfficeConsulting.com or call (469) 633-9833.