As a remote startup with teammates based all around the world, our team functions almost exclusively online and communicate through apps like Slack and Gathertown — and truly, thank the heavens for these inventions! However, being constantly connected to the internet also means increasing the potential to get distracted and lose focus; and we’re probably not the only ones falling prey to this problem. So we thought, why not share our top 6 tips to boost productivity and maintain a healthy relationship with all things virtual?
The trouble, is you think you have time . — Jack Cornfield
Building and sticking to a consistent routine is one of the most effective ways to being productive. Set aside specific times for different activities such as studying, working, taking breaks, and sleeping. This will help you manage your time effectively and subsequently plan how you’ll conduct or set goals for your days — because you realize that there are only so many hours to spend on your work and personal life.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful framework that helps you prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency. You can start off your day (or plan for the week) by making a to-do list and ranking them according to the following categories:
Then begin by tackling the most pressing tasks first because, well, they need to be completed pronto. If it’s one of those wonderful days where you don’t have anything urgent to do, choose the hardest or most difficult task to do as it’s often these ones that you’d most likely procrastinate on; another reason is that by the time you’ve finished the smaller, easier tasks, it’s going to be time for a break…or lunch! And by then, it’s not just half the day gone, but also your momentum to get things done.
Memory is the residue of thought (a.k.a. out of sight, out of mind). — Aristotle
These can come in many forms, depending on our hobbies, passions, and interests; but for most if not all of us, it’s to do with our handy tech gadgets, like mobile phones, tablets, and perhaps even game consoles. With so many distractions at arm’s length, it’s important to put them away or turn them off to reduce the risk of distraction (and this is even before talking about our willpower and self-discipline!).
Turn off notifications for non-essential apps and keep your workspace organized and clear of all unnecessary clutter. If you often find yourself drifting off to browse social media on the web, you can try installing browser extensions like Limit or StayFocusd that literally limit your time spent on such websites.
So, we actually made a nifty browser extension called Flora, a productivity tool that uses the Pomodoro technique to grow a cute lil’ plant on your web browser screen!
Adjust your focus and break periods accordingly, and choose from 5 different plants to grow while you’re keeping focus. It’s so much more relaxing to see something grow from your hard work, rather than chasing the numbers to 0 on the countdown timer — at least, we think so. Why not try it out for yourself and let us know what you think?
It’s tempting to fall into the gung ho, always-on mode, where you work for long hours consistently without taking breaks in between except to eat or relieve yourself. That can actually be counter-intuitive as it takes a toll on your physical and mental states in the long run, which means having to take an actual hiatus or few days for you to convalesce fully.
Rather, learn to take regular, mini breaks, where you step away from the computer and stretch your legs, get some fresh air, or do something you enjoy. It can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes just to rest your eyes and quickly recharge, so you can go back to work with renewed energy and focus.
If you’re like most of us in the MetaPals team who simply can’t tear our eyes away from the screen, you could try adopting a virtual pet (i.e. MetaPals!) to keep you company while working or browsing on your PC! It’s pretty much a cute lil’ emotional companion that eats, sleeps, and plays on any browser tab. You can tend to its needs like feeding it treats or patting it while taking a short break; you can even send it to sleep or away from the screen if you really want to stay focused for a few hours.
Most of our tips have been about building habits to influence your mental state of mind, but we can’t forget about how our physical environment plays a part in shaping this as well.
It’s therefore important to keep your workspace clean and organized. Use tools like calendars, reminders, and digital note-taking to keep track of your tasks and deadlines. Apps like Notion or Evernote are versatile and user-friendly to help you stay on top of your responsibilities and can even be great platforms for journalling and brainstorming. The bottom line is to find what works for you in terms of organizing your responsibilities and planning your schedule, so it keeps your mind clear and focused on immediate things to do.
For many of us who spend most of our days online, it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole of never-ending social media scrolls and YouTube-surfing, only to realize too late that hours have passed and barely any work’s gotten done. It’s therefore important to find your groove and habits that keep you focused; these can be things spanning the productivity tips we mentioned above, or other activities or routines like meditating, listening to music, etc. Remember, the key to success is finding a balance between work and play. So, make sure to take care of yourself and enjoy the journey!
And if you’re the sort who digs funny pet content or need the occasional chuckle from social media, you can follow our socials here.