It’s official: remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future. How it looks might vary: some of us are working in a home office/office building hybrid, going into our communal workspaces a few days out of the week with our masks and hand sanitizer in tow. Some of us have moved our offices entirely onto the kitchen table and aren’t looking back. Although the productivity myth about working from home has been debunked, it can get challenging to stay motivated around your work when all you’re doing is sitting at home day in and day out.
If this sounds like you (because it sounds like me), then it’s time to get serious about your strategies for planning and carrying out your day efficiently and effectively. As women in finance, entrepreneurs, and in a lot of cases now, homeschoolers, it’s important to organize your day and avoid falling into a spiral of chaos week after week.
So, we’ve compiled a short list of a few productivity techniques that might work for you. Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish with your days and your work style, consider trying out one of these strategies.
The Pomodoro Technique
The intention behind this approach is to make time work with you and not against you. The basic process includes 6 steps:
Choose a task you’d like to work on.
Set a timer for 25 minutes
Work without any interruptions. No phone, no nothing. Immerse yourself in what you’re doing.
Once the timer goes off, stop working.
Take a short break! Get a glass of water or go for a quick walk—just make sure you’re not doing anything work-related.
Repeat! Once you’ve completed 4 blocks of time (or, pomodoros), you can take a longer 20-30 minute break. The idea is that this will give you time to rest and process all of the information you’ve just compiled.
You set your goals and learn how to handle them in more manageable chunks without any distractions. And all you need is a timer, a pencil, and a piece of paper.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
The Getting Things Done method is a personal productivity practice that focuses on bringing order to chaos—very relevant.
This method isn’t just trying to help you make your work more effective, but also your life.
GTD is broken down into 5 steps:
Capture: collect what has your attention. Write down (voice record, IG Live) any tasks, projects, phone calls, emails, chores, anything that needs to get done.
Clarify: process what it means. Ask yourself a few questions. Can you start this now, or does something else need to get done before you can tackle it? Is it a big undertaking that can be split into smaller, digestible steps? Is it something you’ve been putting off for 2 months that you can finish in 5 minutes?
Organize: put it where it belongs. Make lists compiling the different tasks and archive them accordingly.
Reflect: review frequently. This step is self-explanatory. Make a regular effort of auditing your tasks, lists, and priorities so you can stay on top of your goals.
Engage: simply do. Enough said.
David Allen, the creator of this method, describes the philosophy behind this approach for us: “Being creative, strategic, and simply present and loving don’t require time—they require space.”
Zen to Done
The Zen to Done approach wants to help you develop 10 new habits for working more productively and effectively. This method focuses on simplifying your process and addressing your focus.
It’s recommended that you practice, at most, 2-3 of these habits at a time. You should focus on one (or two, or three) for 30 days and then move on to the next.
The 10 habits are:
Collect. Carry a small notebook around with you so you can write any tasks or to-dos that pop into your mind. The key here is that it’s portable, so you can do this as soon as the work pops into your head.
Process. Review your email inbox, notebook, anything that could involve a task, at least once a day. What you’re doing with this habit is developing the muscle that doesn’t let things pile up.
Plan. Set 1-3 big tasks for the week and what you’ll need to accomplish these projects for your day-to-day.
Do. Focus on one task at a time, without distractions.
Simple trusted system. Simplify your life! The idea here is that all you really need is just a notebook and something to write with. Maybe a timer, too.
Organize. Make sure there’s a specific place for everything.
Review. Audit your system and goals weekly.
Simplify. Evaluate your essential tasks and goals and remove everything else.
Routine. Here, you’re trying to get in the habit of developing routines and seeing what works best for you. (A morning routine before starting work? An early afternoon routine of getting to inbox 0?)
Find your passion. The habit you’re working on here is finding what you’re truly passionate about and focusing your work there. When you love what you do, the idea is that you won’t procrastinate on what you have to get done. Or, hopefully, just procrastinate less.
What technique works best for you?