My Journey Towards Staying Productive, an Update

I have been working from home full-time for well over 2 years as part of the team at Lullabot. In that time I’ve had various ebbs and flows of project types, living situations and family life changes. Through all this with much trial and many errors I have found I can stay more productive if I focus on 3 main areas:

Prevent distractions

There are number of things I’ve worked on over the years to help prevent distractions. I use to make my priority segregating myself from the rest of the house with a separate work space and concentration enhancing headphones1. I still do this but I have found my greatest distraction is not what is happening around me, but “blackhole” websites that are easy to loose yourself in. I now leave SelfControl app running most of the time while I am working and have it set to block out sites like YouTube and Reddit. Maybe one day I will be disciplined enough to not allow wasting time in these sites. But for now it is just to easy of a diversion from meaningful work.

Get comfortable

Staying mentally and physically relaxed while working is crucial to keeping your productivity level high. For me this includes a few things:

  • Hydration—I start my morning off with some fussy coffee and always have water with me at my desk throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Lighting—I have several different lamps around the office to provide the lighting I like. I even burn a candle at my desk sometimes. You know, for ambiance.
  • Music—In the last year I have settled into almost exclusively listening to instrumental music while I work. This includes post-rock or sound tracks.
  • Desk—A desk doesn’t have to be extravagant but ergonomics are important. I have been using a standing desk for around 5 years.

Know your tasks

I use OmniFocus to keep track of all that I need to work on as well as the things I would like to get done. One of the big things I am striving for right now is to never allow myself to get bored at during work hours. This means when there are gaps in work or a few mins between meetings, I need to have a list of what I can do to fill that time. Sometimes it is just as simple as writing a short bit in Day One. Having a list of tasks reference keeps me on track of what I have to get done. And it also keeps me from spending time on small things—that may be well intentioned—but don’t help me act on my life priorities. I you haven’t already, I recommend you read Getting Things Done and develop your own system for tracking tasks.

What are things you focus on to stay more productive?

  1. I now use open back headphones over sound isolating. With my office position in the house the outside volume isn’t a distraction and I greatly prefer the open back sound.