An hour after The Growth Center asked me to jot down some good practices for working from home, I listened to a live webinar from productivity expert and speaker Peter Shankman. Peter and I are good friends and have both worked from home successfully for over 20 years. When I realized the webinar specifically addressed successfully working from home, it seemed like a no-brainer to highlight Peter’s excellent tips and suggestions.
Shankman, who speaks all over the world, writes best-sellers, and has a popular ADHD podcast, started with, “I’ve found that productivity comes easiest and stays the longest when I’ve implemented specific ‘life rules’ into my world.”
He went on to say these are non-negotiable rules that allow him to perform at his best, under varying types of conditions. Shankman has worked in a forest, in countless airport lounges, on even more airplanes, from the top of a building at NASA while waiting for a Space Shuttle launch, and many more locations.
Here are Peter’s iron-clad rules for working from home:
1. Productivity begins the night before
Plan out your day the night before, visualize what it is you want to get done tomorrow, and then get a good night’s sleep. No lights, no TV, no phones. Just sleep.
2. Go to sleep and get up an hour earlier
Face your day refreshed, calm, and unstressed – which means going to bed at a decent hour and getting up promptly. Working from home is not an excuse to sleep late. And, when you get up early, you have time to get ready and not run late for the rest of the day.
3. Get a dopamine hit the minute you wake up
The release of dopamine influences your human ability to think and plan. And, dopamine is an outstanding byproduct of exercise. Another bonus: Dopamine creates happiness. So, please don’t put off physical activity, do it the first thing when you wake up or soon after that.
4. Eliminate all clutter
If it’s there, you’ll look at it. If you look at it, you’ll get distracted. If you get distracted, you won’t get your work done. If you don’t get your work done, you won’t be productive. If you’re not productive, you won’t be successful.
5. Assign deadlines to EVERYTHING
Without a deadline, it’s not a reality, and it’ll be a top priority only until the next top priority comes your way. If you are assigned something to do and don’t get a deadline, ask for one.
6. Hold meetings the same time every day
If you can, organize digital meetings at the same time each day. Arranging this type of schedule allows you to get into “deep work” and not be pulled out of it at random times. The first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon is best. And, keep all meetings to twenty minutes.
Bonus to your well-being: stand up for their entirety.
7. Require joint accountability
Find a friend in the same situation and set “accountability” check-ins several times per day.
8. Nothing you wouldn’t have in the office
No Netflix. No TV. No working from bed or the couch. You’re not on vacation.
9. Silence the alerts
Eliminate the dings, whistles, pop-ups, banners, and mute your phone. For every message you get, you drop 24 minutes of productivity according to Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.
10. Your health matters more now
A different routine can stress you and your body, so be sure to take care of yourself. Peter uses the 45/10/5 rule – 45 minutes of work, 10 minutes of getting up and moving around (drink water, do some pushups, walk somewhere), and check your messages the last 5 minutes of the hour.
And don’t ignore your body. Do you need a better desk space, a better chair, or a brighter lamp? If your company has sent you home to work indefinitely, it never hurts to ask if the company will pay for these things. Ask.
Following these ten rules every day you work from home will go a long way to making this a rewarding time for all involved.
If you like these pointers, help Peter out with his next project. He’s participating in his third Ironman competition. Click here to find out how you can support Peter in the Ironman Kona in October and help raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.