The way that you structure your day when working remotely can make a huge difference in your ability to get a lot done. Here are 3 ways you can structure your day so you can get more done. There is the temptation to allow yourself a little luxury when you don’t have a manager leaning over you. However, this always leads to procrastination and in some cases it can be so severe that you end up falling behind before you’ve even started. The key to preventing this before it even happens is to introduce some rules. Yes, working from home and remotely is all about flexibility and freedom. Setting rules can seem somewhat arbitrary, but doing so will provide some much needed structure and discipline that will help you accomplish much more.
Eat the Whole Frog
The first of the 3 ways you can structure your day to get more done, is a strategy called “Eating the Whole Frog.” This comes from a quote by Mark Twain that says
“If your job is to eat a frog, then you should do that first thing in the morning. If your job is to eat two frogs, then you should eat the biggest and ugliest one first.”
Basically, what he’s saying here, is that you should do the biggest and least appealing task first.
For example, if you’re starting your day and you have 5,000 lines of code to write, then you should sit down and do that before you do anything else. Before you answer any emails, before you tackle smaller tasks, or anything you want to do.
The reason this is a great strategy is because you’ll be providing the most value as quickly as possible. The biggest task you have to complete is most likely the one that will bring in the most revenue. That probably has the opportunity to win over your clients, and getting it done means it’s no longer hanging over you.
If you are like most and run out of time towards the end of the day, it’s much easier to fit something small into your schedule, that you’re looking forward to doing, than it is to fit in something large that you aren’t excited about. So, instead of putting it off, just get it out of the way!
If you’re a business owner, or manager, you should keep this strategy in mind. If you’re paying someone to do something for you – then just let them do it. Don’t take up time with conversations, emails, regular and frequent check-ins.
The 1 Minute Rule
The second of the 3 ways you can structure your day to get more done, is actually a simple rule that if done correctly, will allow you to be as productive as possible. The 1 minute rule is simply that. If you should find yourself needing to complete a task that will only take a minute, then you should cross that off your list as soon as you possibly can.
It’s very common for people who regularly work remotely to find themselves becoming overwhelmed and exhausted. While there are several reason for this, one of the biggest reason is being responsible for manage their work time when they have a lot to do. How do you possibly keep on top of all the tasks, which continue to pile up, when there is no one to help structure your day?
Tim Ferriss, author of The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle, calls the kinds of small tasks that play on your mind and overwhelm you “open loops”.
Here’s an example: You might have an email that you need to respond to, but keep putting off. Maybe the client isn’t your favorite, or you might have something else that appears to be more important. Something as simple as responding to an email takes a minute, sometimes less, but you put them off because:
a) You have other more pressing issues to take care of
b) They are emotionally stressful – so you’d rather bury your head in the sand
But, here’s the thing.
Those issues aren’t going to go away. The longer they hand over you, the more stress and anxiety you’re going to feel. So, you should just do them right away. If it only takes a minute, then it really isn’t going to eat into your day. Once it’s done, that’s one less thing on your mind. And it becomes that much easier to just focus on the work that you need to get done.
There is an exception to the one minute rule. This rule might not be the best to implement on a large project or work that requires a lot of focus. If you’re working on a very complex item and need to focus in order to complete a specific task, then you shouldn’t allow small items like emails and messages to steal your attention away from what has to be done.
Did you know that when you’re distracted by another task, or meeting, it can actually take you up to 23 minutes to get back in the right frame of mind to focus on what you were originally working on? Our brains are not physically capable of multitasking, and instead work by switching between tasks. This is called context switching and why many more people and studies have shown that people are more productive working remotely. They don’t have the distractions of impromptu meetings, and interruptions in the office.
To-dos and Task Lists
The last of the 3 ways you can structure your day to get more done is meant for all those items that can’t be completed with the 1 minute rule. Tasks, items and job that take up to 30 minutes to complete can be added to a running list. Once you have your list of things to do, you’ll use the first strategy we discussed and work on biggest and least appealing “frog” on the list first. Then move onto the second, third and so on.
If you find that you have a lot of small, 1 minute items, you can actually create a task on your running list to spend time addressing all of your smaller, one minute tasks at the same time. Putting all those items down on the list, will get them out of your head space, allowing you to focus more on the larger task at hand. The best part is, you can combine all of these strategies together. You can set a to-do item on your list to block off time to addressing your small one minute items, so you can work on your larger project now.
The Bottom Line
These three rules that you can use to structure your day to get more done, aren’t set in stone. Different people work differently, and the best strategy for you may depend on the type of work you do. The key takehome is that by employing strict rules, you can make sure that you don’t end up overwhelmed by tasks as they come to you. This in turn allows you to set more defined work hours, and giving you a better work-life balance.
To make it easier to find the strategy that works best for you, there is a free webinar that can expands on these three ways to structure your day to get more done. It’s called How To Be Productive and it’ll teach you how to become more productive in business and life. These rules we discussed today have been tried and proven to be highly effective by countless professionals. This free webinar presentation, will show you exactly how to turn these rules into successful habits. Register now to attend. Everyone who attends this presentation will receive a $100 gift card, and a downloadable checklist for staying productive. Reserve your seat by clicking on the button below.