Trouble Focusing? Here's A Blueprint for a Productive Day
Whether you’re new to working from home, or a total veteran of the hermit worker life, it may seem challenging to have a productive day when you have access to a stocked fridge, TV set, and big, glorious bed.
You might also wonder, “How am I supposed to get everything done with kids around?” Or “How on Earth am I supposed to maintain my fitness goals if I never leave the house?” These are fair concerns, especially now, in the age of social distancing and quarantine.
But we’re here to help in the form of offering you a structured daily schedule and a few tips to help you stick to it. The schedule incorporates times for working, moving, and socializing, so you can have balanced day.
“When we lack structure, we often feel aimless and default to ‘numbing’ activities like laundry or scrolling social media,” says Kate Gigax, Organizational Psychology Expert, Coach, and Founder of Development Corps. “Giving our brains some form of structure is like saying ‘we’ve got this.’ It helps to provide clarity which conserves brain power.”
Tweak this daily schedule template to fit your individual needs, and keep this in mind: “Things inevitably change, but at least there is an ideal to aim for, and something to reference,” says Gigax. “Otherwise, it can feel like we’re constantly on the hamster wheel trying to do it all without enough time.”
8-10 AM: Morning Routine
- Wake up.
- Shower/bathroom/morning self-care routine. If you’re a parent, help kids with their routines.
- Have breakfast. Make this step easier by meal-prepping some breakfast in advance. Need some recipe inspo? Here are some of our favorite healthy meal prep breakfasts!
- Get in some movement—and possibly fresh air!
- If you have a dog, take your pup on a walk. No dog? You can always take yourself on a walk around the block!
- If you’re a morning workout person, then get that done! If you want some help sticking to a morning workout routine, sign up for a live class on Openfit, which will give you a set time to begin.
- If you don’t usually have time to exercise before work, this might be a great opportunity to change it up! “I have a client who prefers a morning workout, but usually isn’t able to do that because of her long commute,” says Gigax says. “Now, working from home because of COVID-19, she’s been able to work out in the morning before she starts her work.”
When it comes to working out, the most important thing is to schedule your daily sweat session for a time when it’s most likely to happen. It should be booked like a meeting or any other can’t-miss commitment. In short, make it a “non-negotiable must-do.”
10 AM-12 PM: Morning Work
- Begin work for a productive day at home. Check emails, return Slack messages, set up conference calls, etc.
- “Create a specific, dedicated work space (that’s not the kitchen table). Even if that means setting up a collapsible table in your bedroom, it’s important to have a place to be when working,” Gigax says.
- If your kids are home from school, give them a designated workspace for their school work. Be sure it is separate from your work area!
- At 11 AM, move around! Maybe that’s another walk around the block, or maybe you try one of the 10 minute workouts from 600 Secs — they’re short and sweet so you can get moving and then get back to work.
12-1 PM: Lunch
- Break for lunch. If you’re bored of the same boring salad, try some of our favorite healthy lunch recipes!
- If you usually work out during your lunch break, keep it consistent at home. You can go for a run, stream T-Minus 30 to work up a total body sweat, or try XB Pilates if you’re looking for some midday calorie-burning!
- Other options for lunch break activities include reading, drawing, stretching, listening to a podcast, working on personal creative projects, etc.
- Be sure not to use your lunch break to do chores. “Refrain from doing household tasks, like laundry, during the workday. They can be a benefit of working from home, but also a productivity killer,” Gigax says.
1-4 PM: Afternoon Work
- Back to work! Schedule calls, work on projects, complete assignments, etc.
- If your kids are home from school, set this as their schoolwork time, as well.
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Here are some tips to help you drink more water throughout your day.
- At each hour mark (2 PM, 3 PM, etc) stretch, take a 5 to 10 minute walk around the block, or do some bodyweight exercises to get your blood flowing.
4-5 PM: Move Around
- Exercise or spend some time outdoors. The afternoon slump is real, so beat it with some fresh air, sunshine, or a sweat sesh.
- Try Rough Around the Edges on Openfit; the trainers are a group of badass stuntwomen and martial arts experts, which can help motivate you to be more of a boss—both in and out of the office.
- If you’re struggling to stay committed to your workouts at home, a live class on Openfit can help you stay on track. You’ll get a notification before class begins, and the trainer will encourage you virtually the whole time. “We tend to commit to things when others are involved,” Gigax says. “These kinds of classes are great because you can track your involvement and gain support from others.”
5-6 PM: Evening Work
- Complete your work for the day. Set tasks for the following day. Improve your to-do list with these helpful tips.
- If you have kids, Gigax suggests some alternative scheduling here. “Our families need to understand and respect our boundaries around work. I’ve been letting my son ‘work’ with me for the last hour of my work day. He knows it means that he needs to be doing school work in my office and we can’t talk very much,” she says.” Treat this hour like your child’s study hall!
6-8 PM: Dinner
- Make dinner/eat dinner. Try these delicious dinner recipes so you don’t get burned out on your usuals!
- Do household chores during this time: laundry, cleaning, tidying up, etc.
- If you’re all set on household chores, use this as productive down time. Practice self-care, take a bath, or meditate. This isn’t the time for scrolling through Instagram or watching reality shows (don’t worry, that time will come!).
8-10 PM: Downtime
- Down time! This time should be whatever you find most relaxing and restorative. Just make sure you have it clearly marked on your schedule.
- Spend time with your family, play with the kids, hang with roommates, or connect with your partner.
- If you have kids, get them ready for bed and say goodnight. Once they’re asleep, this might be the time to catch up on some work you couldn’t get to during the day.
- “For instance, right now I’m working five hours in the morning and another three after the kids go to bed since they are home from school,” says Gigax. “For me, those final three hours of the day are when I can do my best thinking because I know I won’t be interrupted. Once my family is back on a normal schedule, that will change.”
10-11 PM: Nighttime Routine
- Nighttime routine: skincare, hair care, shower, drink tea, etc. No electronics during this time (this can disrupt your sleep).
11 PM: Sleep
- Bedtime (finally!). Read or journal before bed, but remember: no screens!