How to work faster from home

Today I’ve got a few quick work-at-home tips for your non-procrastinating pleasure!

Of course, these tips are also useful if you’re an in-a-real-office type who maybe doesn’t wear yoga pants and have semi-dressed children under your desk* but they’re especially important for those of us who scrounge for their next working hour the way we scrounge for the Cheetos we dropped into the couch cushions.

*I’ve been told that doesn’t happen at real offices.

So here we go …

I wasted work time to make this cute (?) graphic, so perhaps the wrong person is writing this post … 

1. Don’t waste precious work-time figuring out WHAT to do.

You guys know I’m addicted to my Google Calendar and all its colour-coded glory. Whenever I get a project deadline or schedule a call, it goes into the Calendar, but — and this is the important part — I also schedule the TIME in which to DO IT.

If I have an article due on a Friday, let’s say, I’ll make sure to block off a chunk of time on the Tuesday or Wednesday to actually write it. I’ll also make a note on the Friday before to start harassing for interviews. So when I start my work on Tuesday, I’ll see that I’ve already scheduled myself to work on X article that’s due on Friday.

I check my calendar before I go to bed at night to see what’s on deck for the next day and then again when I wake up. I always know what’s on the schedule so I can sit down and go straight to work.

2. If you have a bunch of quick tasks, do those FIRST.

It’s rare that someone can sit down at their desk and plunge immediately into work, so that’s where we often get caught in a Super Important Social Media Ease-In.

Instead, look at your calendar or to-do list and see what small tasks you could start with — they’ll help you get on a roll when you’re still half-asleep or not yet in the working grove.

3. Keep in mind what NEEDS to be done, not what you’d LIKE to get done.

It doesn’t matter how much I want to work on the project that’s due on Friday if I have a different project that’s due tomorrow. If there’s no way I can get up from my desk without finishing the project that’s due tomorrow, then I have to JUST. DO. IT.

I usually find that once I’ve forced myself to do the things I MUST do today, I feel relieved that they’re done and I can decide what comes next.

4. Never START with something open-ended (unless it’s all you have to do).

I’ll often start a work session (I can’t say “work day” because I rarely get an entire day) by blasting through email or making a bunch of calls, or maybe even by finishing up a story. But I never, ever, ever start with anything open-ended.

What’s open-ended? Original writing. Research. Brainstorming. Basically anything that requires a lot of brainpower OR that could easily eat up a ton of time. There’s nothing worse than getting carried away with a task that didn’t really need to take so long and then realizing you have a lot of other stuff you still have to do. (See #3)

5. Remember that even 15 minutes is a lot of time.

I’ve been guilty of saying “Oh, there’s 15 minutes until my next call. That’s not enough time to get into writing, so I’ll just see if Amalah’s dog is doing better on her new food regime …

But sometimes I’ll say, Heather, NO. Spend 15 minutes sending out emails! Because, yeah, 15 minutes is totally long enough to send out a LOT of emails and then I don’t have to do them later.

(Which gives me more time to read about Hamsterdog.)

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What are your favourite tips for working faster from home? Also what brand of yoga pants do you find the most conducive to getting ahead in your career

So what do you think?

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