Learn about the two things that can help you be more productive working from home.
If you have children and a job or business, it can be quite a challenge juggling family and work. That’s especially true if you happen to work from home.
This video is for people working from home who face the challenge of dividing their time between family and work.
Hy, my name is Julian. I‘m a husband, dad and business owner from Berlin, Germany. On this website and corresponding YouTube channel, I‘ll share with you some proven strategies on how to live a rich and meaningful life.
I did get myself an office last year, but there are times when I still work from home, like when our daycare center is closed for holidays.
At the end of this article, you’ll know how planning your days and working with a Pomodoro timer can help you be more productive working from home.
If you are a business owner and have other people working with you, this will also help you work fewer hours.
As a special bonus, I’ll share two powerful affirmations to help you stay super focused and be more productive working from home.
In my case, our daycare center was closed for three weeks in July. As we have a baby and a toddler at home, my wife and I decided that I work from home during this time.
In the past, whenever things around me didn’t work, I got nervous. For example, I still struggle when my wife or children get sick – or the daycare center being closed makes me anxious.
I know that these things are outside of my control. In theory, that means I should accept and live with those things.
However, in reality, I tend to tense up inside because a situation like this usually means I can’t do everything I have on my calendar.
That’s why I came up with three things that work well for me. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, these things might help you become more productive working from home.
First, I decided to be more flexible in my mind. For example, I might be able to work at different times of the day, shaking my usual routines a bit up.
Second, when planning my days in the morning, I can make an extra effort to focus on the essential activities for that day. That usually includes 20 minutes of exercise as I tend to move a lot less when working from home.
Also, as a business owner, I can delegate more or choose to delete jobs that I might not need to do at all.
For this matter, I highly recommend planning your days in advance. You could do this with a classic notepad, digital notepad, or – as we’ll see in a minute – directly within Focus To-Do, my favorite app for this.
Third, I deliberately decided to work less in July. It’s probably the warmest month of the year in my country. So, why not reduce my working hours while the sun is out?
Before I show you my planning system, I admit that up until quite recently, I still felt quite unsure about handling three weeks without support from our daycare center or grandparents.
That’s why my wife encouraged me to sit together with her on the couch and have a discussion. She convinced me everything would be alright. We’d need to relax more and be more flexible than usual.
Then, what I did next was tell my team that I’d be less available in July while our daycare center was closed.
How To Be Productive Working from Home: Parkinson’s law
As you might know, Parkinson’s law is the saying that work expands to fill the time allotted for completion.
What does that mean?
It means that whatever deadlines and times for task completion we come up with will usually be the actual time needed.
For this reason, one of the cleverest things we can do is think in advance about how much time we want to spend on any given task.
What then helps is to make a written commitment about how much time we attribute to each job on our list.
You could use a Pomodoro timer and eliminate all outside distractions to become even more productive working from home.
My planning system
So, let me show you how I do this. First, I open Focus To Do on my computer, iPad, or phone. Then, I start by writing down my two most important tasks for the day.
If you’ve read Brian Tracy’s excellent book Eat that frog, you know these tasks will be the activities that will help you get to the next level.
In my case, typical frogs are:
- making an offer to a prospect
- writing a newsletter,
- recording a video or
- talking with a top client
Depending on your type of work, those tasks might be different for you.
So, here you can see a typical work day. At the top of the list is working on blog posts like this one.
If you want to know more about why I choose to work on this first thing in the morning, I recommend you check out my review of The Big Leap.
Then, I assign the number of Pomodoro units for each task on the list. Each Pomodoro unit is 25 minutes long, followed by a 5-minute pause.
I also prioritize each task from high to medium to low.
Before I do anything else, like checking e-mails or answering phone calls, I ensure I stick to my plan. What helps with this is to set my mobile phone notifications to “Do not disturb.” I also let my wife know that she respects this and only messages me if there is an urgency.
With our daycare center being closed and me working from home, planning my days in advance and working with a Pomodoro timer is helping me be super productive working from home.
The additional benefit is that at the end of the day, I can see if I worked on my most important tasks – and how long I worked. Knowing this is especially helpful in a work-from-home situation.
If I work a total of 8 Pomodoro units on any given day, that’s 8 x 25 minutes which equals 200 minutes or 3.3 hours.
That’s good because I don’t want to work much more than that when sharing responsibilities at home.
3 dangers when working with Pomodoro
Here is just a word of caution should you start to decide to experiment with Pomodoro. There are three dangers when working like this.
First, it can feel a bit machine-like, sticking to a strict rhythm of work. However, if you do it right, you’ll get much more done in less time.
Second, working with a Pomodoro timer for an extended period can tire you. For example, after working with a Pomodoro schedule from Monday to Wednesday, it has happened to me that on Thursday, I feel a bit burned out.
In that case, it’s essential to slow down or take a break from working like this. However, I ensure I return to using this technique because it feels right and gets more things done in less time.
Third, there is also another risk involved in using Pomodoro. As you realize that you get so much more done, you might get tempted to keep adding more work to your plate.
I urge you to resist that temptation. I know today’s business culture is often about grinding it out and working many hours.
The real question is: do you want to spend your life just grinding it out and getting more and more done – or would you like to enjoy doing other things with your life?
Everyone is different, of course, and if you’ve found your calling doing the thing you love, work might not feel like work to you. If it’s pure enjoyment for you, then I congratulate you!
In my case, I want to spend plenty of time with my children at home, on vacation, or in nature. That’s because family is AS essential to me as meaningful work is.
2 powerful affirmations to help you stay laser-focused
As promised at the beginning of this blog post, let me share two powerful affirmations with you. Those have helped me be super focused and work on the right things.
Those affirmations are:
- “Is what I’m doing right now taking me closer to my most important goals?” and
- Is this the most valuable use of my time right now?
If you read this article until here, how do you divide your time between work and family or pleasure?
Please let me know in the comments below.