Let’s be real, working 8 hour days are long gone. Most of us can’t even get what we need done in 24 hours. There’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything we need accomplished. If you find yourself taking work home with you some nights because the day did not go as you planned, try these tips below to stay productive while you’re working late into the evening at home.
- Take a break before starting
A growing amount of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity. Skipping breaks can cause you to be exhausted and stressed. So, after you end your “8 hour” work day be sure to take a 20 min break at home to give yourself a mental break before you get back at it and continue working well into the night.
- Write down your goals
If you don’t write down your goals, and we mean clear and measurable goals, how are you going to know if you’ve accomplished them? According to a study done by Forbes, those who wrote down their goals accomplished way more than those who did not. The people who wrote down their goals did significantly better because they created a vision for how they were going to achieve their goals. They then turned their vision into a written list of concrete goals and set benchmarks to keep them on track. Most importantly, they celebrated their success for each benchmark goal they met and got to see how far they have came. Prior to you working into the night, write down two or three goals you would like to accomplish. These could be things such as: I want to answer all of my unanswered emails or go over this year’s budget. Be sure the goals are realistic and you’re not biting off more than you can chew in one night.
- Eat a well balanced meal
Ever hear the saying, “Food is fuel?” Well it is! Think back on your most productive day at work. What did you eat? I’m guessing it was not a cheeseburger and fries. Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance. For example, our brains work best with about 25 grams of glucose (sugar) circulating in our blood stream, about the amount found in a banana. If you snack on something that has a much higher glucose level, such as a reese’s, you will get a sugar high resulting in a crash later on. Foods such as bread, pasta and soda also release a burst of glucose then a crash. Try planning out your lunch, snacks, and dinner in the morning before work! If you get home and have to work late, this way you already have dinner planned out. For more ideas on the best fuel foods, check out this list of healthy food options.
- Avoid watching television
Studies show that multitasking kills your performance and damages your brain. It decreases your efficiency because you can only completely focus on one thing at a time. If you need to watch TV, take a 20 min break after you’ve completed one task, then turn it off. Blocking out all distractions will allow you to stay in the right mindset of being successful.
- Exercise before working late
Exercising before working late will get your cognitive abilities to increase and provide you with more overall energy because you’re getting your body and brain working. On your way home from the office, make a pit stop at the gym. Even if you only have thirty minutes to spare, you will feel much more energized to go home and work late into the evening.
- Drink water not caffeine
Drinking water can increase our productivity by 14% while working late into the evening at home! The water limits dehydration and expands the brain’s grey matter allowing us to comprehend more. Coffee/caffeine dehydrates your body which leads to tiredness. Try reaching for a water at dinner instead of a soda or coffee. Water will also help keep your body energized and hydrated after you get home from the gym.
- Knock out the small goals
Instead of leaving your big challenging goals for after the work day, try accomplishing them early. At night, focus on getting those small goals out of the way. Before you begin a task, ask yourself: How much effort will this take and what will the immediate impact be? For example, if you have to do your monthly expense report, try accomplishing that early in the day because of the time it takes. If you haven’t created the schedule yet for your employees for the month of April, do so that night. Dividing your tasks out early in the day will help you stay more organized and allow you to stay on track with what you want to accomplish that day and night.
- Dress in work clothes
Putting on your pajamas might be tempting, but studies show that what we put on, we adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. It is why we feel more fit when we are wearing sports clothes or more professional when we are wearing a business suit.If you want to stay in work mode, keep your work attire on, and don’t give into those sweatpants and t-shirt that look so comfy!
- Have an established work space at home
If you’re working late at night, it’s important to have a well established work space. Having a place at home dedicated to work allows you to distinguish between work and home. No, your bed is not a desk, even though you may wish it was. You will end up getting too comfortable in your bed and be tempted to doze off or turn on Netflix. Even if you have to sit at your kitchen table, it will feel more like you’re in a work environment.
- Create a productive playlist
Everyday work tasks can become repetitive and annoying fast. Research suggests that music is helpful in not only tuning out the distracting noises, but it can help increase our productivity by putting us in a happy mood. There are a lot of great playlists out there such as, Pandora and Spotify that are designed to keep people focused and productive.
While working late at home isn’t ideal, it will happen once in awhile. Try to not be too hard on yourself if you have to push some deadlines back, it happens to all of us once in awhile. Remember to take care of yourself and your work will show that! These 10 tips above will make working late more rewarding and productive. Please comment below and share what keeps you productive working late.