3 Home Office Productivity Hacks You’ve Never Heard of

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Peter Shallard
CEO | Commit Action |

Consistent, powerful productivity. That’s the goal, right?

It isn’t easy. If you’re a freelancer, business owner or entrepreneur then you know the struggle to stay “in the zone” when working from home.

It doesn’t matter if you occasionally work from your kitchen table or if you’ve set up a permanent, customized home office as your entrepreneurial bat cave.

Either way, focus and effectiveness are hard to find at home. They’re slippery, elusive and precious states-of-mind. Most people only stumble into these states by accident, for minutes at a time.

The reality for most home office workers is a state of scattered distraction. Fighting temptations. Time wasted in internet black holes. Finishing your day wondering where the hell all the time went, realizing you only worked solidly for an hour or two.

Now imagine your home office as it should be:

A zen-like hush. Your brow furrowed as you pump out creative, high value work that rockets your business goals forward. Hours feel like minutes. Nothing can stop you.

What will make your home office this temple of epic productivity?

At Commit Action, we’ve made it our business to find out what makes superhuman entrepreneurs succeed easier, faster and more often than everyone else:

  • We’ve assembled a board of ivy league psychology researchers.

  • We’ve conducted over ten thousand one-to-one phone conversations with actual business owners to gather data.

  • We’ve studied what works in home offices. And we’ve found some highly unusual, counter-intuitive hacks.

  • A tiny percentage of mega successful entrepreneurs use these tactics to get a total unfair advantage when working from home.

We have a video training series (free to all) that completely breaks down EVERYTHING we've learned about superhuman entrepreneurs. You can grab it at the bottom of this article (scroll down) if you want to go deeper.

Here’s our top three home office hacks for business owners:

Hack #1: Commit to mindful & intentional content consumption

How much time do you spend consuming content – either text, video or audio – each day?

Business owners who work from home tell us that one of their biggest time-wasters is getting sucked into content – of all kinds – online.

Content, media and entrepreneurs have a tricky psychological relationship.

On the one hand: Overhyped news, social media, clickbait, cat videos and gossip can eat up your attention and your entire day. Your productivity will be destroyed by these distractions. Don’t think you’re somehow smart enough to avoid the detrimental effects of media over-consumption either. There’s serious science showing how destructive it is for all of us!((Several studies have shown negative side effects to the memory effectiveness and “susceptibility to interference from environmental stimuli” in people who consume a lot of media and social media content while working.))

On the other hand: Consuming inspiring books, tactical guides and industry specific news… gives you a terrific advantage! It can inspire your productivity and focus, while giving you insight into new opportunities. Warren Buffett famously reads for the majority of his work day.

We believe that no entrepreneur should shun all media or content.

That’s why our first home-office hack is borrowed straight from the habits of brilliant entrepreneurs like Buffett:

Commit to consuming only mindful, intentional content.

Here’s how you do it: Prepare a reading list for your day or week, laying out books or carefully chosen articles you want to consume for business or personal growth purpose Dedicate time to consuming your chosen content. Instead of clicking news stories that appear in your newsfeed, mindfully chose what you give your attention to. And when to give it. Make a conscious effort to shun ALL OTHER MEDIA besides your mindfully chosen list.

The greatest hack of all is to dedicate one device – a tablet is perfect – for your mindful media consumption. Keep all media off your actual work computer.

If you want a break from whatever you’re working on, switch devices. Perhaps even move out of your desk chair to a comfy seat in your home. Dive into your mindful content, wholeheartedly.

This hack is really all about creating clear and firm lines between working and learning. It will give you back the hours of the wasted time you spend – in a distracted state – consuming content that ultimately offers you and your business zero value.

Read also: Discover how to revolutionize your work-from-home setup with our latest insights on optimizing the new normal for peak productivity

Hack #2: Get out of your cave and connect with humans

This hack is counter intuitive because it’s the opposite of what most people love about their home offices! Working from home is supposed to be about peace and quiet. The whole point is to be in a distraction-free, isolated environment.

Yet the isolation of home offices can actually hurt your productivity. Incredible new research – from both economists and psychologists – shows a powerful link between human social contact and our ability to accomplish our goals.((Just one of our favorites is a study by Economist Dean Karlan. This 2000 participant study showed that commitments made with “monitors” (accountability partners) were nearly 40 more likely to be kept. Those who tried to make big changes in their lives alone were much more likely to fail.))

This is why the best way you can hack your home office environment is by actually leaving it, but only in the right way.

Getting out to connect with high value people in your network can have a tremendous boost to your effectiveness. Of course, meeting people who can help you get ahead in business is always good… but there are even more benefits to the right kind of social interaction.

Simply connecting with your entrepreneurial colleagues can have a profound effect on your productivity. We recommend simple things like meet up groups or coffee dates with people on a similar path to you.

Human brains are wired, thanks to millions of years of evolutionary conditioning, to thrive in social environments. Socializing with others will skyrocket your productivity.((The parts of our neocortex often described as our “mammalian brain” are highly geared for paying attention to social cues. Simply put: We can’t help but care what others think of us… and we’ll work hard to meet social expectations. This is why accountability for goal setting WORKS. Behavioral scientists and evolutionary psychologists believe that we evolved this way simply because our most popular ancestors, with the best relationships with others, were more likely to survive and thrive in harsh environments.))

Connecting with your tribe gives you the chance to: Share your goals and be held accountable Escape your inner “echo chamber” by getting outside insight into challenges you face Break up your work day, providing valuable relief from the grind And even if you can’t get physically outside, you can get a lot of productivity with the right kind of digital connection: Send an email generously giving value to people in your network. Over the long term you’ll cement your place as a high value node in the network yourself. Share simple goals and intentions with a friend. Simply ping someone with your goals for the day and ask for theirs. Check in at 5pm to see how it went. Overcome overwhelm by asking others for help or advice. No business succeeds as an isolated island!

Very few entrepreneurs are comfortable with asking for advice or help. And every business owner wants the freedom of a uninterrupted day in their “creative cave”. The truth is, the human brain doesn’t thrive in such environments for long.

Balance your home office isolation with smart, mindful social interaction and watch your neurology boost your energy and enthusiasm for your work!

Boost Your Entrepreneurial Success: Aim for higher business success? Utilize our Entrepreneur Personality Test to uncover key aspects of your entrepreneurial nature and boost your path to success.

Hack #3: Be playfully naughty, every day

Our final hack is by far the most effective AND the most unbelievable. Brace yourself.

Breakthroughs in behavioral science in the last few years have identified that our ability to play actually contributes a huge amount to our success. You read that right.((In fact, neuroscientists like Sergio Pellis have found that Play activities correlate with brain size in mammals! Dr Stuart Brown goes further to say that Play can “… foster innovation and lead to multi-billion dollar fortunes.”))

At Commit Action, we’ve seen entrepreneurs push their productivity and focus further than they ever imagined by deliberately indulging their inner child’s desire for play and fun.

Biggest productivity hack of all: Breaking up your work sessions with the type of frolicking fun that your seven year old self would’ve loved!

This hack feels naughty because when working from home, most entrepreneurs tend to whip themselves into focusing for hours on end. Any time spent not staring at your computer contemplating serious matters, is seen as a waste.
This is the wrong attitude. Taking a break throughout your day to let your inner child run free – playing however you see fit – will actually reinvigorate your energy and ability to focus.

Got that 3pm drowsy feeling?
Reading the same thing on your screen over and over?
Feeling simply uninspired?

A few minutes of “playing hooky” from work – enjoying a deliciously playful break – will evaporate those tired feelings and renew your appetite for the hustle.

So many entrepreneurs sabotage themselves by trying to be constantly productive:

They optimize every second of their day to push themselves further and further. Even lunch breaks end up spent on things like listening to business podcasts, in a desperate desire to cram the day with MORE productivity. Every minute is used to mercilessly prod forward, to serious goals.

This always-on, constant pushing of oneself for growth and productivity can create huge psychological internal conflicts. Eventually your passion and enthusiasm – for a business you used to love – can be completely eroded!

When you give yourself permission for a little lighthearted fun throughout the day, you’re not just refreshing yourself for more work. Play also sends a strong signal to your unconscious mind: By working from home you are living a better, more enjoyable life.

Play makes your business and work something to be grateful for.
It activates and refreshes the parts of your brain directly connected with high performance and intelligence.

It makes your business something that creates a deeply fulfilling life… instead of a painful struggle you have to battle with.

To hack play into your home office work day, try: Making a list of all the things you loved doing as a seven year old Make a list of the things you WISHED you could do as a seven year old (big difference!) Find a way to play throughout your day… at any of those things. It’s that simple! We’ve seen grown entrepreneurs massively improve their focus by things like: Spending just30 mins playing with legos Putting golf balls on their office rug Taking a motorbike out for a spin Playing with an inexpensive remote-control “drone” Indulging in some quick video game play Tossing a stick for the family dog

Next time you feel drawn to online distractions like cat videos or whatever your personal productivity kryptonite is, just remember that the problem may simply lie with your inner child.

That part of you – that inner child that wants to have fun above all else – is reaching out, grasping for any kind of rewarding activity. Your life has become too empty of genuine fun activity and that inner child is trying to FIX that. With cat videos.

You can do better.

If you pause and really give yourself permission to play you’ll find more motivation when you return to work. If you give that inner child part of you what it needs, you’ll be more focused than ever when you need to be.

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