By Monica George
Work from Home and Still Feel Productive: 6 Top Productivity Tools
I am not a morning person nor – *yawn* – do I expect to ever be one. It’s fine. Because I still manage to get up at 5:15 am, four mornings/week and get a ton of s*** done. (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays I sleep in until 7:00 am).
For me, developing this habit has required trial and error and lots of practice; I used to use my husband as an excuse for disrupting my ‘hyper-productive’ morning routines, citing a not-entirely-unjustified concern with disturbing his precious law-school-student sleep. So instead, I’d simply wait until he needed to get up and then grumpily follow suit. All this did for me was give me a rushed and unfocused start to my days and it lead to resentment over the 2-3 hours I felt I’d lost from my mornings. I’ve since found a solution to this problem in order to preserve my morning routine – and the sanctity of our relationship.
Alarmy, thankfully, has a variety of gradual and un-startling alarm sound options and various “missions” to complete before the alarm will shut off. My favorite mission is the math which I complete at a Hard level first thing in the morning (á la (37 x 11) + 321). You won’t be able to fall back asleep after this mindful awakening (if you are able, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough). Pro-tip: smart watch users can keep their phones in a separate room and wake up with a simple wrist vibration to respect the light sleepers in your life.
If you cohabitate with someone else and you don’t have wireless headphones yet, what are you waiting for!? I highly recommend you invest in a pair of these bad babies. (Hint: I’ve found the over-the-ear versions to usually have a longer battery life. I only charge mine a few times a week!) This is how I listen to TedTalks and audiobooks in the mornings while getting ready for the day. I’m emphasizing the “wireless” aspect of these because I find a great deal of value in being able to distance myself from my phone in the mornings. With wireless headphones, I relish my new found ability to prepare breakfast, walk my dogs, or do my morning cardio without my phone glued to my hand.
If I add an item to my task list, I also schedule time to accomplish the task in my calendar. I recommend prioritizing the tasks you know you tend to put off or dread doing at your most productive time of day. I’m least productive between 1-4 pm so I never place any creative work at those times if I can help it. Block out every section of the day with the tasks you need to accomplish and stay honest. If you unintentionally got sucked into a task that was personal or unproductive, alter your calendar so that you can do better the next day. I set this up at night for the following day and add any unfinished tasks from the current day to my upcoming schedule.
Again, maybe this is just a type-A thing, but I love to set timers for myself. I’ve found these one of the most effective tools to motivate me to get something done. Maybe it’s weird that I like to see how fast I can fold my laundry or read a chapter in a book — but if that sounds like you, get yourself a timing device (preferably not your phone if you find it a distraction). The Time Cube is an adaptation of a kitchen timer in a compact and attractive cube form that has different time-increment options available. Set it on its side while you complete 20 minutes of morning pages or 15 minutes of emails at the beginning of each day. I also use this when I take a 5 minute break midday to clear my mind.