1) If you’re doing jobs that require working from home, set yourself a time scale for work. If you just sit down at your computer and start, you’ll never get things done (or at least I won’t – I get distracted if I’m not specifically focussed on one job).
This has dawned on me recently. I’ve had a load of stuff to do online for gig promotion (go to these gigs by the way) including stuff on some social networking sites and forums. Ass you can imagine, I get distracted by this easily, especially as they’re sites I regularly visit anyway. Since I started being more focussed, though, I’ve set myself maybe an hour or two do do a few tasks, and I’ve not allowed myself to stray from that specific area until the time is over. Then I give myself a bit of a break, but not too long. I’ve gotten two or three times as much stuff done recently because of this.
2) Email is a great tool, but it can massively decrease productivity.
I only have the one email address right now. Everything goes into it: work emails, personal emails, newsletters, forum subscriptions, notifications, everything. Sometimes really important stuff gets lost in the noise, and you end up spending so much time sorting through it you spend less time working.
Using Gmail’s stars and filters is helping me a lot, but I’m still considering setting up some completely separate addresses for other things. One for work, one for personal, and one for newsletters, forums, social networking, etc. I’m trying to decide if this will mean me spending more time signing in/out, checking 3 different accounts, but maybe if I start using something like Outlook instead of webmail, then I’ll be able to do this easily.
2b) Email on the move
I thought having an iPhone was great, allowing me to check my email on the move so I could get stuff done while I was on the train, etc. Instead I’ve found that I miss important things now. Because I’m using IMAP on my phone, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to set things as unread, if I check my email and there’s something that I can’t immediately act on, it sits in my inbox until I’m next at a computer, and then gets missed because it isn’t unread. This is exacerbated by the email noise mentioned before, so now I’m resisting the urge to check my mail in bed before I get up, and while I’m out and about.
3) You need personal downtime
This is the most important one for me at the minute. Working nonstop and then spending the rest of my time visiting friends, my girlfriend, and trying to cram in even more work just isn’t working anymore. I got so burnt out last week that I was working incredibly slowly. However, when I finally got a proper night’s sleep, and then spent some “me time” washing my car and playing my Xbox, I got much more relaxed, and was able to catch up on my massive todo list (incidentally, Gmail tasks is great for this).