Earlier this year, the largest worldwide work-from-home (WFH) experiment was forced into being by the onset of the coronavirus. While some of us were already used to the freedoms of working remotely, others found this newfound flexibility to be burdensome—especially those working from home for the first time.
With so much free time and no real structure, to excel while working remotely takes special focus and skill. You have to find a routine that prompts bursts of productivity throughout your workday.
Even if you’re transitioning back into an office environment, building routines into your work schedule is essential to staying on track, furthering your goals, and achieving share-worthy outcomes. Plus, routines don’t have to be boring. You can integrate a few blocks of time that include fun activities, like taking a short walk or reading a book during lunch, to make the day pass by with even more substance and moments of joy.
Certain writing tasks are especially effective within a daily routine. No matter where you write things down, the act of putting words to paper—or to screen—will help keep you motivated and encourage daily progress.
As you develop the personalized routine that’s best for you, these three helpful written tools can help streamline and sharpen your workday.
1 The tried-and-true to-do list
To-do lists are a time-honored method for maintaining focus, which is crucial when working remotely or independently. Creating a to-do list at the start of each day will give you a measurable indicator of what you need to accomplish before closing the computer for the evening.
Oftentimes, the very thought of all the things you have to do can distract you from actually making progress. Making a plan can free you from this anxiety and create a system that sparks focus and intention. After all, the key to reaching big-picture goals is breaking them down into small, actionable tasks—which are perfect for a to-do list.
2 Designated work blocks
If you’re coming up against a busy period at work, having designated work blocks in place can be a true lifesaver. Work blocks are much like the schedules we all used to have in school: Certain periods of the day are designated for certain subjects. Applying this same block mentality to your workday will make it easy to prioritize your tasks and save you from feeling overwhelmed.
>>READ MORE: How To Stay Focused When Working from Home
Write down a tentative schedule for your day that includes several work blocks. You might have a block for catching up on emails in the early morning, or a block for responding to comments on your social media channels. (Don’t forget your lunch block!)
Most importantly, you need to have at least one block where you allow no distractions. This should probably be the hour or two where your productivity is at its peak. With an hour blocked off for distraction-free work, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in a short amount of time.
3 Visible goals
It’s important to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, even if you are only working toward them little by little. Staying on track with your goals, both personally and professionally, means making them a visible part of your daily routine.
One of the best ways to accomplish these goals is to vividly describe them in written form and display them in your work area. Studies show that people who write down their goals in precise and evocative detail are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. This is because the act of writing incites both external storage (like words on a sticky note) which allows you to physically access your goals anytime, and encoding, which happens in the brain and makes it easier to remember these goals.
By creating a helpful routine that integrates written tasks such as to-do lists and work blocks, you can establish a work schedule that makes it easy to achieve your goals and be optimally productive, no matter where you are.