Sure, we’ve all heard of PTO before, but have you ever heard of SPD? If not, I’ll excuse your ignorance since I just totally made up that acronym. However the concept is not new. In Jeff Hayden’s book, The Motivation Myth, he describes the concept of having an extreme productivity day. Similary, the super productive day is a tactic to allow you to focus solely on a big project and avoid many of the frequent distractions that keep up from getting things done.
Keep putting a big project on the back-burner because you don’t have enough time to work on it? Try to take a super productive day! A super productive day is basically the opposite of a vacation day. Instead of blocking off a day for relaxation, you’re actually blocking off time to focus on getting a specific project completed.
If you’re lucky enough to not have a big project on your to do list, you can still use many of the tactics below to create shorter more intentional to do sessions. The goal being the same – get more done in a shorter amount of time, so you can spend more time doing the things you love!
Not yet convinced?
Here are seven surprising productivity tips to help you have a super productive day while working from home.
Welcome to the land of distractions. While many of enjoy the comforts of working from home, many would agree that the distractions are often endless. First there’s the distractions that are built into our connected world such as email, social meda, slack messages, the occasional funny meme. And as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, there’s all the external distractions like children (especially if you’re home schooling at the moment), phone calls, FedEx deliveries, household chores, and the Amazon deliveries.
Eliminating these distractions is a big part of improving your productivity. While the external distractions may be more difficult to eliminate, turning off notifications for email, social media, and slack messages can be a huge benefit. One tool I enjoy using to eliminate email distrations is Boomerang’s Pause feature.
Just like it sounds, Boomerang’s Pause feature allows you to pause your email for an intended amount of time. This is extremely useful, since while working on another object you may have to access your inbox to retrieve important information. And of course, once you’re in your inbox it’s easy to respond to a quick email or two which will no doubt lead to a rabbit-hole leaving you wondering where the last two hours has gone.
And for those of you freaking out because you’re worried you may miss an important email, I got you. Boomerang’s Pause feature also allows you to set up an out of office message. You can use this message to inform email senders that your inbox is currently paused and can communicate when you’ll be back online or provide a cell phone number for emergencies.
Schedule Your Tasks
Blocking off time on your calendar is a great way to improve productivity. However, a great way to take this strategy to the next level, especially if you’re working on a big project, is to schedule out the necessary project tasks. I like using a tool called Asana, to plan out big projects. Asana allows you to go beyond just creating a high level to do list (although it’s great for that too) and create sub-tasks for each item on your to do list.
While scheduling my tasks, I’ll often include a note about how long each task is intended to take. This allows me to have a more realistic to do list and block off the proper amount of time to get a big project done. It’s also important when scheduling out these task to buffer in some time for the unexpected. Think about it, how many times have you worked on a big project and hit zero hiccups? The answer for most is probably none. So do yourselve a favor and buffer in some time for the unexpects. A good rule of thumb is to include a buffer of 10-15% of anticipated project time.
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Stick to your to-do list!
Stick to your planned tasks and work through your list. Often when working on a project other things will come up in the process. For example, you realize one of your blog posts isn’t properly formatted. Instead of stopping what you’re doing and working on that task keep a small notebook nearby where you can jot down any other “to-dos”. Recording those thoughts for later will allow you to stick with your intended project this will result in improved productivity.
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Don’t just tell people you aren’t available. Actually be unavailable. Say no to emails, texts, and phone calls. Shut off all potential distractions and communication points. Avoid checking emails, log off of social channels, and place your phone in airplane or “do not disturb” mode.
You can get a lot more done if you aren’t being interrupted and pulled in 100 directions by well-meaning colleagues. Think about it this way: your colleagues are probably great people but picking up the phone to answer an obscure and not-so-pressing question will NOT make you more productive. It is important to let people know that you will be unavailable so they don’t interrupt you.
Put your out-of-office email response on, record a temporary voicemail explaining you’ll be unavailable for the day, stick a note on your office door, etc. The method you choose should fit your situation. The key is to let your colleagues and family know that you will be unavailable during that time and to let you concentrate on your work. Removing distractions will not only improve productivity but will also help propel you towards a super productive day.
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Change Your Surroundings
Change your surroundings to change your productivity. One way to have a super productive day is to try a new location. By removing yourself from your normal environment, you are more likely to be able to find a space where you can work undisturbed. If you’re stuck working from home, it’s easy to get in the habit of sitting in the same location every day. Try switching it up, by moving to a different environment.
You can try working from a different room in your home or working outside for a change of pace. If you’re an apartment dweller and don’t have access to outdoor space, a great alternative is to use a service like Deskpass to work from a COVID-19 approved coworking space for the day. Other ideas include a local coffee shop or the library. The change in scenery will help you stay on track and can result in a super productive day.
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Take a short break. Seriously, take a break. Just because you have a super productive day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reserve time for breaks. Schedule in time for meals and short breaks throughout the day. Stretch, refill your coffee, walk around. It doesn’t matter what you do during the break as long as it is relaxing and not work-related. It’ll improve productivity when you start up again.
This is exactly what the Pomodoro method and other such work practices tap into. The secret to maintaining a high level of productivity over the course of a full day is not working long stretches of time–but about working smarter and with frequent breaks. Regardless of which method you choose, adding in breaks will contribute substantially to you having a super productive day.
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This one may seem a bit uncanny, but it’s so important to reward yourself after a long productive day. Whether it’s curling up with a good book, having a glass of wine, or binge-watching your favorite guily pleasure, take some time to reward yourself for a hard day’s work. This will also give you something to look forward to when you hit challenges along the way.