5 Tips For Regaining Control and Getting Things Done

PUBLISHED ON Mar 24, 2021

With millions more people now working from home the art of productivity has never been more important. Most people are used to the rigid structures of office-based work but now the responsibility of completely managing one’s time can be daunting for the majority of people now working remotely. The distractions are everywhere and we’re regularly diverting our attentions to pets, kids and those pesky social media notifications. Based on our experiences we have therefore put together 5 Tips for Regaining Control and Getting Things Done.

Before we list these tips however let’s highlight the final term in the article title: Getting Things Done (GTD). For those who haven’t heard of this term nor have read the book: GETTING THINGS DONE® is a personal productivity methodology that redefines how you approach your life and work. Highly recommended book.

#1 Set a Routine

One of the most important things to do to increase productivity is to sit down and set a daily schedule. In time your routine will be well established and there are a few key points to note:

  • Find out what time of days is best for you to do both creative tasks and repetitive tasks. This will then allow you to schedule your most important time slots for creative tasks.
  • Try to find a daily slot of 3-4 hours and reserve them for your “focus time.”
  • Have Set Hours – whether you start early, afternoon or do late evenings, make sure you have a set number of working hours, leaving the rest of the time strictly for personal time.
  • Very important to disengage yourself from work when done
  • Take effective breaks {link to internal blog post on this subject}

#2 Use a Task Manager Tool

Technology has made our lives a lot easier and task management is no exception. There are plenty of task management tools out there and we recommend taking advantage of them. For starters, you can use the ‘Getting Things Done spreadsheet’ which simply involves listing all tasks in a spreadsheet, classifying which projects each item belong to and importantly setting ‘Status’ and ‘Due Date’. You can then simply filter by ‘outstanding’ and sort by due date. Just keeping working on tasks till done and constantly review spreadsheet.

You can also use other popular online based task management tools such as Trello (a personal favorite of mine), Asana or Monday.com.

#3 Eliminate Distractions

The Covid pandemic has no doubt thrown up plenty of distractions for those either used to working from home or new to it. From kids learning at home, diaries packed with personal and work Zoom calls to attending to the family pet, it has certainly not been easy. One Mom said ““I feel like I have five jobs: mom, teacher, C.C.O., house cleaner, chef,”

Despite this, things will settle and the early frantic days of WFH will soon pass by. For the sake of productivity and overall wellbeing, you need to eliminate or at least significantly reduce these distractions that get in the way of your work. One simple technique is to ‘turn notifications off’ (email, slack, social media etc) at least for your ‘focus time’. Research conducted showed that it takes a person 25 minutes of mental energy to refocus on their work after a distraction – ponder on that for a minute.

#4 Set Deadlines

Have you ever noticed how you are more productive when you have a deadline to meet? When you know you have to do something by a certain time, you’re more likely to do it and avoid that annoying habit of procrastination. It is therefore important to set self-imposed deadlines that are realistic whenever you can. That nice feeling of ticking off completed items off your To-Do-List gives you a motivational boost.

#5 Finish Work and Disconnect!

Last but not least, you must learn to finish work when work is finished. This means you completely disconnect and avoid that lingering lure of replying to that email, slack message or feeling of wanting to finish something off. A lot of people experience the blurring of lines between work time and personal time when WFH – during the day some will do household chores with the intention of ‘catching up on the work later’ but then find themselves working till late evening and not having quality time to switch off and unwind. If you’ve followed the 4 steps above, then you’ll find it easier to switch off at the end of the day.

So, there you go, 5 steps that sound easy but can be powerful in helping you regain control of your working day, get things done and feel all the better for it. Do you have any personal hacks or better ideas? Feel free to via the comments section below.

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About Adrian Green

Freelance writer and career coach who has been working from home for the past 10 years. Passionate about helping others find the right career and work-life balance.
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