This ain’t another post about Pomodoro, time-blocking, finding your “optimal work time”, or any other of those other common work from home productivity tips you’ve heard 1000 times.
That’s all good stuff. But if it was working, would you be reading this?
It’s time to think outside the box.
In this post, I’m gonna show you some new and creative WFH productivity hacks you’ve probably never thought of before.
#1.) Wait till the very last minute
Whoever claims procrastination doesn’t boost productivity has obviously never finished a 20-page research paper the night before it’s due.
Work expands to fit the time available to complete it.
If you have an entire week to finish a project, you’ll turtle-crawl through it.
But if it’s due in 3 hours, your focus and productivity will instantly shoot through the roof.
This isn’t the most enjoyable (or healthy) approach, but you can’t deny it’s effectiveness.
#2.) Schedule something fun (or expensive)
This technique combines the power of deadlines with the anticipation of a reward (shoutout to Sean Ogle from Location Rebel for this one).
Here’s how it works:
Want to finish your work by 2pm today? Simple.
Just schedule a fun activity for 2:30pm. Bonus points if the activity is…
- Paid in advance
- Something you do with a group of friends
It sure would suck to lose money, miss out on fun, and let down your friends…TIME TO PUT THE PETAL TO THE METAL!
#3.) Add virtual social pressure
Ever noticed at the gym how you move faster, exercise harder, and rest less when other people are watching you?
The same goes for working at home.
If you want to max out your productivity, add in some social accountability.
This could be as simple as telling people you’re going to finish something by a certain time and asking them to check in with you.
To crank things up a notch, Neville even livestreams his writing sessions on Facebook (check it out here) to help himself stay on task.
Knowing someone else could be watching your computer screen at any given moment pressures you to stay on task (and stay off Reddit).
#4.) Use (extreme) rewards and punishments
I’m not talking about treating yourself to an ice cream cone if you finish your work (although that could work).
I’m talking about taking things to the EXTREME. Things like…
I can’t eat until I get this done.
I can’t talk until I get this done.
I can’t sleep until I get this done.
I can’t stand up until I get this done.
I can’t go to the bathroom until I get this done.
When you’re hungry AF or your bladder is about to explode, you’ll finish work at hyperspeed.
#5.) Plan a fun work night (perhaps with alcohol)
So far all our WFH productivity hacks involve some sort of pressure…
But too much pressure can be overwhelming and actually have an ANTI-productive effect.
Whenever I start dreading my work, I know it’s time to take a chill pill and have some fun.
Instead of squeezing out every ounce of productivity and forcing myself to work as fast as possible, I do the OPPOSITE…
I snuggle on the couch, turn on some country music, crack open a beer, and take my sweet time. No worries. No pressure. No rush.
After I get a couple beers in me, that dreaded project suddenly seems fun! (BTW, altering your mental state is a great way to overcome writer’s block too).
You might not finish in record speed, but at least you’ll finish.
#6.) Drink caffeine strategically
Speaking of altered mental states, coffee can be the ultimate WFH productivity tool IF you know how to use it properly.
Most people drink every day, get desensitized to caffeine, and lose the energizing effect.
Don’t do this!
Instead of drinking coffee just because “that’s what people do in the morning”, start thinking about it strategically.
Don’t waste your energy boost on mindless activities like reading email or admin tasks.
Instead, save it for important tasks requiring an extra oomph of focus and creativity—like important writing sessions, presentations, client calls, etc.
Lastly, keep your weekends caffeine-free to help reset your tolerance.
When you do this, you’ll notice a HUGE difference in how potent the productivity buzz is.
(Check out this handy caffeine calculator to help plan your buzzes)
#7.) Kill distractions (using browser extensions)
At the office, you have bosses and colleagues around making sure you stay on task.
When working at home alone, there’s no accountability, nobody watching over your shoulder, and nothing to protect you from getting sucked into the social media vortex.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened Youtube to watch a quick video for work….and before I know it an hour has passed and I’m watching crocodile vs. hippo fights.
Luckily, if you’re prone to falling into social media temptation, here are some handy Chrome extensions:
Focus 45: Chrome extension that blocks distracting sites for 45-minute intervals.
News Feed Eradicator: Blocks Facebook newsfeed, allowing you to check Facebook for work without getting sucked in.
DF Tube: Hides Youtube video recommendations in the sidebar and disables autoplay.
#8.) Write nightly “old school” to-do lists
People make two big mistakes when using To-Do Lists:
#1.) They overcomplicate things.
#2.) They don’t plan ahead.
Both of these can be solved with the “Old School To-Do Method” you can see in the video:
Grab a pen and notebook and write out the 2-4 tasks you want to accomplish the following day.
❌ No need to plan out the entire month.
❌ No need to enter it into a fancy app.
❌ No need to set a bazillion alarms.
✅ Just a pen, paper, and quick bullet list.
The trick is doing this BEFORE going to bed. That way you wake up knowing exactly where to start and won’t waste half your day planning out your day.
#9.) Harness “Aha” moments (you only get 1-3 per day)
Sometimes inspiration strikes at the weirdest times.
But when it happens—whether you’re showering, folding laundry, watching Netflix, etc—stop what you’re doing and take advantage of it!
Working at home gives you flexibility.
So if you’re zombie-crawling through a project at noon, take a break. Don’t fight against the wind.
And when an “Aha” moment jolts you with energy at 10pm, crack open your laptop and enjoy the wind at your back.
WARNING: This doesn’t mean sit around and do nothing until you feel inspired.
#10.) Personalize your workspace
You’ve probably heard that an organized workspace is a productive workspace.
I call B.S. 💩
Everyone is different.
Some work better at a squeaky clean desk, others thrive in clutter.
Some work better in boring empty spaces, others need a stimulating environment.
Some work better in silence, others need music.
You have to figure out what works best for YOU.
The only requirement is that you’re COMFORTABLE.
This might mean having an adjustable desk, perfect ergonomics, and regular stretch breaks.
Or it could be propping yourself up in bed with a million pillows (like my wife).
There’s no one-size-fits-all.
Test out different setups, choose what works best for you, and screw what everyone else says.
#11.) Invest in proper lighting
If your work involves regular video calls, this one’s a no-brainer.
Not only does investing in lighting make you look more professional on calls, but it also saves time.
With one-touch lighting, there’s no need to adjust windows, shift desks, and “set up the whole office” before each call.
Just flip the switch and you’re ready to roll.
And the productivity benefits don’t end there.
Looking professional on camera boosts your confidence, which in turn sharpens performance.
As the saying goes…
Look good. Feel good. Play good.
#12.) Get PISSED at your work
Who does this task think he is, anyway??
Stressing you out. Taking your time. Draining your energy.
If you need motivation to knock out a boring project, make it the enemy.
Don’t stop working until you completely destroy that MFer!
Sometimes your work has tasks you don’t want to do. So don’t pretend to love it. Curse at it, hate it, do it out of spite, and then CRUSH IT.
#13.) Snoop on your competition (and get jealous)
Work at home productivity is tightly connected with your inner levels of motivation. (And it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re three steps away from your comfy bed and the next series of Stranger Things loaded on Netflix).
One way to keep your motivation tanked topped up is to spy on your competition.
Look at all the work they’re doing.
Look at all the success they’re having.
Look at all the money they’re making…
And then get jealous.
When you realize they’re hustlin’ while you’re slackin’, it’ll jolt you back to action.
#14.) Just don’t do it
“Just don’t do it? You mean, like, let it sit there unfinished…forever?”
If a task has been on your to-do list for 2-3 days and you keep pushing it back…it clearly ain’t that important, is it?
Turns out, only a very small percentage of tasks are TRULY essential.
Sometimes WFH productivity simply means knowing what NOT to do, so you have more time for the important stuff.
#15.) Stop being a little bitch about it
You. Have it. GOOD.
Your life has been enriched with thousands of years of human innovation that takes the drudgery and pain away from a harsh, violence-filled, disease-ridden, backbreaking-labor, hardship-filled existence.
Your ancestors would FLIP THE HELL OUT at how easy your life is compared to theirs.
If you were born just 200 years ago:
- If you had bad eye sight: You better start squinting. There’s no cheap solution for that.
- If you needed surgery: You better drink some whiskey before a guy saws your body open with a rusty blade while you’re still awake.
- If you got a weird illness: Some voodoo witch doctor would crush up some random leaves, cut you, rub them in the wound…..and hope for the best.
- If you wanted to know something: You better hope one of your friends knows. Otherwise you’re out of luck.
- If you wanted to travel somewhere: You better be super-duper rich and have 6 months of transit time.
Life completely sucked compared to what we have now!!
If you are reading this on a computer……you have access to tools and information that 200 years ago people couldn’t even fathom would exist. ……yet here you are complaining that “you don’t know what to write.”
Understand that your work will never ever ever ever be 100% perfect. So just type something out….then go back and edit it. It’s the best way to just start. It’s not the end of the world if you write something crappy. Just edit or delete it later.
So quit being a little bitch and finish off your work.
Work From Home Productivity Cheat Sheet
Mitch Glass, Neville Medhora