Here are some strategies we can use to improve efficiency when working from home:
1. Take a baseline reading of how you're using your time. Pick up a calendar book - the old fashioned, write-it-down kind - and note how much time you spend every day on tasks.
2. Find places where you can use time more efficiently. Are you spending too much time responding to emails? Are you getting lost in projects that could wait? How are you prioritizing your tasks?
3. Make lists. In your calendar book, make lists of tasks that need to be accomplished and prioritize them. Urgent? Important? Urgent and important? Can wait? As you accomplish these tasks, physically cross them off the list - reinforcing the completion of tasks by crossing them off provides a sense of accomplishment and reduces stress. Writing things down also reinforces information in our brains, making it easier to organize our thoughts. By taking 5 or 10 minutes first thing to do this, we save time later.
4. Allocate the amount of time that's necessary for each task in your calendar. Then set a timer. Don't get lost in time sucking activities that can wait.
5. Be flexible. You've heard the phrase, "the best laid plans of mice and men." Sometimes unexpected things come up - they just do. Leave extra time in your day for those last-minute, urgent events.
6. Prepare for your day as if you were going to an office. Brush your teeth, shower, dress, and have breakfast. Signal to your mind that it's time to work.
7. Have a dedicated space for work. Have all the tools you need organized in that space for easy access. This is another signal to your mind that it's time to work.
8. Do your best not to let personal tasks creep into your work time. While there may be unavoidable disruptions, the more separation you can keep between work and personal chores the more efficient you can be with both. It can be difficult to go back and forth between our "work hat" and our "personal hat."
9. Create "reward" breaks. When you've finished a complicated or distasteful task, cross it off your list and take 10 minutes to have some tea, step outside and enjoy the sunshine, or pet the dog.