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5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home

Posted By Guest Blogger 13th of December 2015 Be Productive 0 Comments

5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home: by Gretchen Rubin on ProBlogger.net

Folks, you’ll know today’s guest contributor author Gretchen Rubin from her bestselling books on happiness, habits, and human nature, her inspiring talks, and her popular daily blog GretchenRubin.com. Gretchen also shares practical, manageable advice on her podcast Happier With Gretchen Rubin, which iTunes just announced as one of the best of 2015. We are thrilled to have Gretchen on ProBlogger today, giving us her best tips on how good habits can help you stay sane and on track when your workplace is also your home. 

If you’re a blogger, and you work from home, it can be tough to stay productive and creative. You can always knock off some household chore – or take a nap on the sofa!

5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home

In Better Than Before, my book about how to master habits, I identify the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. I use many of these strategies on myself, to keep myself on track as a blogger.

1. I use the Strategy of Safeguards to put myself out of the reach of temptation.

To do the serious work of original writing—my most challenging kind of work—I take my laptop to a library that’s a block from my apartment, and there, I don’t connect to the internet. It’s easier physically to remove myself from the lure of my three monitors than to use self-control. Many people accomplish the same thing by using software to shut down the internet for certain intervals every day. Look for stumbling blocks, plan for failure!

2. I use the Strategy of Scheduling to do certain tasks at certain times.

It turns out that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. So when I tell myself, “at 10:00 a.m., I’m going to write that blog post,” at 10:00 I don’t allow myself to think that while I’m writing, I can also clean my desk, check email, post on Twitter, go over my calendar, or indulge in my personal favorite, do “research.” At the designated time, I do the task that I’ve identified, or I stare at the ceiling. Even when I don’t feel like working, I soon buckle down, out of sheer boredom.

3. I use the Strategy of Foundation to make sure that I move around a lot during the day.

Some days I go to the gym, or take a yoga class, or have a strength-training session. We also just got a new puppy, so I’m going for many more short walks during the day. Research shows that exercise helps me stay energized and focused—and for me, it also helps me keep my rear in the chair when I’m working, because otherwise I get very restless. Plus, as Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” I often find that I get a big insight or make an important connection when I’m out for a walk.

4. I use the Strategy of Monitoring to keep track of how much I’m posting.

How many posts am I really doing each week? We do a better job with just about everything (exercise, diet, spending, etc.) when we keep close track of what we’re doing.

Weirdly, I’ve found, it’s easier to post just about every day than to post some days. I usually post 5-6 times a week, so it’s part of my ordinary day. I don’t agonize, “Should I write something? I wrote yesterday and the day befofre, shouldn’t I get today off? I have a good idea for tomorrow, so should I take today off? I didn’t sleep well last night, I’ll write better tomorrow”, etc. But if I posted, say, three times a week, I’d go through that every time, I’m sure.

As it is, I just have to post. If you want a daily time log, to help you monitor how you’re spending your time each day, download it here.

5. I use the Strategy of Treats to make plenty of time to read.

The Strategy of Treats is the most fun We should load ourselves with healthy treats, because when we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves. Reading is my favorite thing to do, and when I give myself plenty of time to read for fun, I feel energized and cared for. Also, my reading gives me new ideas, illustrations, and insights, so it makes blogging easier, too. But I spend a good amount of time each week reading exactly what I want to read, not what I think I “should” read.

BONUS

Here’s a strategy that I don’t need, but many people do: the Strategy of Accountability. In Better Than Before, I divide people into four categories: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. (Take the quiz here.) For people who are “Obligers” (which is the largest category, by the way), the Strategy of Accountability is crucial. Key. Essential!

If you’re really good at meeting other people’s expectations, but find it hard to meet your expectations for yourself, you must give yourself outer accountability. Start an accountability group (starter kit here, if you want to start one) where people hold each other accountable. Work with a coach. Find a client. Report to a buddy. Do whatever it takes—because for many people, writing regularly on a blog is something that just won’t happen, no matter how much they want to do it, if there’s no external accountability. Know yourself, and plan accordingly!

If you’d like to read more about how to use habits to make your life happier, healthier, and more productive, check out my book, Better Than Before. It turns out that it’s not too hard to change your habits—when you know what to do.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.

  • I really liked the part with reading. That’s my way to unplug. I do think that reading is a great exercise for the brain, and yet it gives me a lot of ideas I can use later in my work. I totally agree that we should read for pleasure. I have read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before. It is a truly insightful book full of great tips and ideas and sheds so much light on human behavior. Regardless of age, habits can change for good. The question is are we willing to make this change.

    Thanks for the inspiring post.

  • I had never considered working to be a form of procrastination – now that I think about it, though, especially working strictly in social media, a lot of what I do to be productive is really just avoiding what I should actually be doing – working on better scripts for my YouTube videos.

    I’m going to try and push myself into adopting some of these strategies in my daily life, now. Although it helps that I also work out of the house – it means free time is precious and I don’t waste a lot of it, generally.

  • There are some great tips here, I am guilty of being busy checking emails, surfing, tweeting etc that I forget to do what needs to be done ! I agree it is important to get out for exercise and fresh air and try to schedule it into my week.

    Thanks.

  • Great posts Gretchen! Quite interesting to read this types of article. Definitely working from home is a lot comfortable, but gets many distractions compared to an office based job. I’ve enveloped myself with countless bad habits before and struggled with religiously following the routines others have told me to. Somehow, it hit me really hard that i started to develop a habit and consistently working with it. Started off with a light exercise in the morning, eat low fat meal, and do some meditation. I’ve noticed that healthy diets are so much underrated when it comes to brain functionality which really shouldn’t be. Now i know many would think i’m a little bit off right here, however the point here is how can you establish habits that are productive and in my opinion, getting your body and mind cleansed through a concious diet and exercise would be much more valuable, more so in the long run. I myself have noticed a great improvement with my mental prowess because of these daily routines i’ve created for myself. Anyway, thanks for sharing this posts. Love it so much!

  • No doubt working from is great opportunity. But also challenging as not so easy to drive traffic effectively fro search engine.

  • Hello Darren. I just love your blog. You have shared your strategy to make creative content and be productive throughout the content so the user remains engaged all the time. Working from home is the best thing that everyone craves for . I have been working from home for last 2 years on my blog based on You have shared great tips in this article and am surely gonna try them.

  • I run a blog at https://krystalbrownblog.wordpress.com and sometimes I find it hard to get down to work. You can always do dishes or surf the web and the temptation to do something else is alluring. The tip for just staring at the ceiling until it you are ready to work on your assigned goal makes a lot of sense. It is a tip I will be using for sure!

  • Stare at the ceiling or do the appointed task. That is such a great bit of advice! I always do something so that I’m “productive” but then I don’t do the MIT.

    Implementing that one today. Thanks!

  • I really liked the part with reading. Thank You very much

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