I’m a pretty routine-based person: I like to be at my desk and ready to work by 10 a.m., I eat lunch at approximately 12:20 p.m., and I stop working at 4 p.m. to hit the gym. I generally try to adhere to this schedule as strictly as possible, which sometimes means beating myself up over stupid stuff, like if it’s 10:15 a.m. and I’m grabbing coffee with a friend instead of being hunched over my computer, or when I run out of creativity at 2 p.m. but force myself to sit there until 4 p.m. even when I’m not being productive at all. I’ve found that giving myself permission to change my routine in just the slightest ways really helps increase my productivity. Here are a few of my favorite tips for increasing your productivity if you’re your own boss!
Change Your Scenery
I work from home, which I usually describe as 99% ahhhmmazing and 1% lonely as [insert expletive of choice here]. So it’s definitely a good idea for me to get out and work from some place other than my humble abode. Luckily, there are a ton of cute cafes and coffee shops that offer free wifi within walking distance, so all I need to do is throw on pants and I’m there. Even if it’s just an hour or two, the change of scenery is sometimes all I need.
Bonus Tip: I find I’m ultra-productive if I leave my power cord at home or can’t find a seat by an outlet. My Macbook battery lasts just a little under two hours, so that means I have to cruise through my work in order to get through everything. There’s no stopping to check Twitter or peruse Pinterest when your Macbook is going to die like immediately.
Change Your Scenery – But Leave the Laptop At Home
You know how there are days when you just aren’t feeling it? You’re moving slow, you’re feeling sluggish, and you’d rather do anything but sit down at your desk and get work done. (“But that’s me every day,” you say. “Eeek,” I reply.) Some times, you can force yourself to move past this feeling and actually have a productive day. Other times, you just can’t even. So give yourself permission to take a little time off and go do something fun! Grab a book, catch some rays, get a coffee with a friend — whatever you want! We’ll call it a little mental health break. I always am more refreshed after this, and usually am way more productive when I next turn on my Macbook.
Change Your Project
My work is almost a 50/50 split of creative and technical: If I’m not coding, I’m designing. If I’m not designing, I’m coding. But sometimes, I’ll be coding for hours on end and I just can’t take it anymore. Instead of stopping my work day entirely, I just switch projects. Sometimes that means totally ignoring my to-do list and starting a completely new and fun project. Even if it’s unrelated, some work is better than no work, and at least I have something to show for it.
Start Looking at the Concept of “Time” A Little Differently
If you’re a freelancer or own your own business like me, remember that one of the major perks is choosing when you work. Take advantage of this! You don’t have to adhere to typical 9-to-5 business hours. I tend to fall into the trap of thinking, “Well, it’s 10 a.m. People expect me to be online working, so I better be online working.” And to some degree, that’s fine for me, but I shouldn’t feel guilty if I don’t “show up” until 1 in the afternoon, or even later.
Also, if you’re like me, you get your best work done late at night (I’m talking like, 2 in the morning, when the rest of the world is asleep). And while I totally understand the importance of getting your beauty sleep in, I am a firm believer in pulling the occasional all nighter. If that’s what it takes to bring out your inner genius, then a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Have you ever tried changing your routine if you’re stuck in a rut? Did it inspire you to get more done?