Just because you’re not sitting in an office doesn’t mean you can’t have a productive workplace. It simply requires a little thoughtfulness.
You’re sitting at home. On your couch. The TV is on, you have a bowl of cereal going, and your laptop is open but off to the side. You haven’t looked at it in a while yet have a feeling that your inbox is growing fuller by the minute.
You know that you should get back to work, but… Family Feud reruns are on and you need to see if your guess for “Name Something You Fill With Air” is the number one answer (it’s “balloons,” by the way).
Oh and plus your roommate is sitting next to you and is also not working, so you’re in good company. And on top of everything else, she yells out her Feud answers so loud that you know you won’t be able to concentrate anyways.
So what’s the point?
Your baseline work productivity
Look, working from home or really anywhere that’s not in an office setting can be a challenge. It can upset your normal workplace efficiency and derail your focus. But the office is plenty full of distractions as well. And the sooner you learn to make anywhere you are a productive workplace, the sooner you will be able to make meaningful progress forward.
Yes, it’s good to take breaks.
Yes, it’s good to enjoy yourself and have fun.
When you find yourself enjoying a six-hour hiatus though, you have a problem. Because sure, your job probably doesn’t really need a full 12-hour day from you. In fact, you probably only need two or three hours max of focused attention.
But that’s the baseline. To maintain your current existence, that’s the only effort you need to make.
Is that your aim though? Mediocrity?
How’s average sound?
My guess is that you’re driven, determined, persistent. Average doesn’t really sound all that appealing to you. And yet average is what you are destined to be if you don’t treat your time intentionally. Now, you can define whatever you view average to mean for yourself. Same goes for success.
But for me, success means living a fulfilled life. One in which I have a career that fills me with meaning, relationships that I enjoy taking part in, a home that I love, and more.
And I know that I won’t be able to either attain or maintain that vision of success by squandering my time.
You won’t either.
So instead, you need to use your time productively. Thoughtfully. You can make anywhere you are a productive workplace. It’s actually quite simple. At the most, it will require a little effort on your end. At the least, you’ll just have to get up off the couch.
With that, here are three factors that will increase productivity; three things that you can do to make anywhere you are a productive workplace.
Productive workplace – Control the noise
At the time of this writing, I’ve worked from home for over three years. Most of that time was spent under an employer, although presently I work for myself. Regardless of who’s assigning the workload though, there is one thing that you can control – what you put in your ears.
That sounds weird… but I’m not changing it.
Obviously I’m talking about music, but more than that I’m also talking about your headphones.
My wife and daughter are eating breakfast nearby as I write this to you. My daughter, less than a year old, is screaming and enjoying bland oatmeal. She is yelling and giggling and playing all over that oatmeal.
And so from a life perspective, it’s a lot of fun to be part of that moment (one of the many benefits of working from home). From a writing perspective though, it’s a distraction. It’s certainly one I welcome, but nevertheless, it interferes with my putting words on the screen in front of you.
I’m sure you have distracting moments in your life just the same.
You’re working on a client design when your husband comes in, talking loudly on the phone. You’re sitting in a coffee shop trying to focus, but the blender hasn’t stopped screeching since you arrived. Or like I mentioned earlier, you have emails to respond to but the TV is on and your roommate is loudly sharing her answers for the Feud.
It’s too easy not to do it (especially in regards to your productive workplace)
No matter the distraction, there’s one incredibly easy thing that you can do to counter the noise. Put in headphones.
When distractions abound, put in your headphones. Personally, I have a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones that I love and use nearly every single day. Regardless of the setting, I know I can throw them in and get back to the task at hand.
Once your headphones are in though, what do you listen to from there?
The music matters
It may not seem important, but the music you listen to matters. If you listen to something with a fast beat, you will feel excited. If you listen to something aggressive, you will feel combative.
It’s going to seep into your brain and impact how you feel.
So pair your music with the kind of work you need to do. If you’re the type that regularly needs to write scathing emails, feel free to put on heavy metal. But for most, you need something a little more relaxed. In fact, your best bet is to go with something that:
- Is wordless (words will distract you)
- Has a consistent beat (to keep you in the zone)
- And has a somewhat fast tempo (to keep your energy levels high)
If you’re a Spotify user, here are two playlists that I often listen to:
You can just as easily find something like this on YouTube as well.
Productive workplace – Have a set workstation
It’s great that you have the right music playing, but… it still probably won’t help you if the TV is flashing in front of your eyes. At least… it wouldn’t for me.
Whenever the TV’s on, even if I don’t care what it’s showing, I am drawn to it.
Like… well… a bird catching a glimpse of something shiny. Most of the time it’s just a gum wrapper. But who knows. One of these days it could be a piece of foil, so keep your fingers crossed. Anyways, whether or not TV has the same effect on you doesn’t matter.
Because we all have some version of TV (ex. Instagram, text notifications, etc.) that distracts us and keeps us from doing what we want.
But good news.
Just like with the headphones tip above, there is an easy solution to this problem.
Create a dedicated workstation for yourself.
It’s about consistency
Know where you are going to work every day. For instance, in the morning, I sit at my couch. The TV is off. The curtains are closed. It is quiet and around 6:30 AM. As late morning progresses, I make my way to the other room and work from my desk for the remainder of the day.
I have two set workstations and I know that, when I’m sitting at either, work is what I will do.
In your own life, you have the ability to create your ideal workstation as well.
It can be the same procedure you follow each day at the local coffee shop – get a small green tea, sit at the same table in the back corner, put in your headphones, and put on the same playlist – or it can be the same setup that you have at home – like what I described for myself above.
Regardless of where you choose to create your workstation, make sure it screams work.
In other words, don’t have your Switch sitting on the desk in front of you. Don’t have your favorite book within arms reach.
When you’re at your workstation, know that it’s time to work. And then, get to it.
Productive workplace – Know what you are going to do
Most importantly, when it comes to making anywhere a productive workplace, you need to have a plan. You need to know exactly what you are going to do and when.
You don’t want to waste your time trying to decide which project to tackle first.
Or whether you should check your email now or later. Or what your priorities are.
You need to know that well beforehand. In fact, I recommend planning out your day the night before. For example, each evening I spend around 15-20 minutes scheduling out my next day. So if tomorrow is Tuesday, I create my plan for it Monday night.
And I do that for all my days (except for the weekends where I’m generally less rigid).
Take the initiative
Why is planning so important? Because it forces you to be intentional with your time. Doing so will make you:
- And more productive each day
Things that someone with aspirations, like you, will benefit from.
It’s the difference between a ship sailing without a map and a ship sailing with one. The one with the map will fare much, much better than the one without.
If you want to know how to increase productivity in the workplace, wherever you decide your workplace to be, you need to make a plan. So take the initiative and create a schedule for how you will spend your time each day.
Your productive workplace moving forward
As you navigate away from this post and drift back to work, keep these tips in mind.
Utilize your headphones and be thoughtful about the music you play. Create a workstation for yourself that encourages focus. And, most importantly, create a plan for your time. You can’t always predict how productive you will be, but by applying these tips, you give yourself a chance.
And a chance is all you need to do something amazing.
Founder of QuickBooost
A blog that helps you do more with your time (productivity, goal setting, that kind of thing). His passion for goal setting has led to him helping countless individuals finally achieve their goals.