How to reduce stress and improve time management with focus booster

Working from home is inevitable right now.

But, over the next month, three months or six months, the productivity and stress levels of office-goers are going to be tested.

The truth is, remote work is more than just video conferencing and firing off emails to stay in touch.

Studies have shown, working from home for an extended period can leave employees feeling socially and professionally isolated.

It's not just the isolation, though...

It's having confidence you can continue to perform your job well, and contribute to keeping your company operating so it can offer a workplace to return to once this is all over.

Another study found that people who were faced with a tedious task in a structured office environment performed better.

Meaning, when faced with a tedious task in a less-structured environment (your home), distractions like doing the dishes, laundry, raiding the fridge, walking the dog or watching TV becomes far more appealing.

But, let's think of this as an opportunity.

What can you learn from this experience?

The next several months could shape an entirely new future for the workforce. Who knows what your new working arrangements will be when this is all over.

Speaking of which, in the last week, we've received some positive messages from focus booster users who have been impacted work-wise by the Coronavirus.

Some messages contained words of positivity;

"In times of isolation, I took the day to look for a pomodoro app to regain my productivity. Among all the options, I found focus booster to be the most objective and functional for me. The features really nail a balance between simplicity and functionality."

Or, just checking in to say they wish us all the best, and keep safe;

"I wish you all success! Let's get through these times together. Stay home and stay safe."

We are all facing this pandemic together, and to know that our community is full of caring individuals gives us warm feelings.

One story, however, was very enlightening and inspired me to write this article...

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Credit: Photo by pixpoetry on Unsplash

How the abrupt closure of a business, led to business growth for a user

Michael is (or, was) a full-time gym owner in Australia.

Gyms were labelled as an "unsafe environment" in the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic. It sparked some fear in regular gym-goers.

Does this mean I shouldn't return to the gym until this is over?

Am I safe if I attend a few times a week, during the less busy times?

Health and fitness brings stability to many lives but, no one wants to feel forced into boycotting their daily exercise routine because of this pandemic.

Michael took it upon himself to put measures into place to ease the concerns of his members. He implemented a five-person limit in the gym at any given time to protect his members and abide by the social distancing rules.

But, it didn't last long...

After several days, new restrictions came into place here in Australia. One restriction being, all indoor sporting venues (including gyms) will close.

While it would have been easy for Michael to accept defeat and close his doors indefinitely, he decided this was going to be a turning point in his career. He was going to take this drastic, forced change and turn it into the greatest thing that ever happened to him, his business and his members.

Michael decided to take his workouts online but he had never worked from home before. How was he going to seize this opportunity and optimise his time to scale his business?

He jumped onto focus booster Monday morning to implement a plan to achieve something that was only ever a dream.

In a 5 day timeframe, Michael:

  • Made contact with each member to inform them of the changes that were happening.
  • Onboarded his members into an online training platform, where he will deliver fitness programs.
  • Used a video conferencing tool (Zoom), and arranged calls with members to talk about their goals.
  • Implemented a scheduling service to host online workouts with members in their own homes.
  • Developed his business goals for the next 3 months.
  • And, devised a morning routine involving meditation, yoga or other exercises, learning something new, setting a goal for the day and playing some guitar.

As a result, each one of his members is 100% on board this change.

Michael said:

"focus booster has helped me to build a structured workday, and has given me the opportunity to visually see where all of my time goes.

As someone who has never worked from home and has only ever run a physical business, I never knew I would have this much time!

Additionally, I have never had the opportunity to be so available. Now, I can dedicate my time into doing everything I’ve always wanted to do, in terms of taking my business online.

focus booster has allowed me to put more channelled energy into bettering my members and their fitness goals. I honestly don't know how I would have achieved this otherwise."

So, why not do like Michael and turn working from home into an extremely positive experience to increase your general satisfaction with life.

Let's break down focus booster and see how some features can really optimise your day now you're working from home...

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Credit: Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Session labels: Keep track of to-do's

Working from home opens up more time in your day. Time you didn't even know you had.

You've shaved off at least an hour, just by eliminating your work commute.

And your lunch break might be shorter than usual because you don't have anywhere to go!

Realistically, now there's a 12-hour window in your day to accomplish big things. But how do you make good use of that time?

A well-planned list!

If to-do lists overwhelm you, then you need to add some purpose and structure to avoid the tasks that make you feel like you aren't making progress. Like always having unfinished tasks on your to-do list.

First off, don't overload your list.

Overfilling your to-do list causes worry every time you look at it and will distract you.

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Laura King say anxiety that results from having too many conflicting goals causes our productivity as well as our physical and mental health to suffer.

So, a to-do list is a double-edged sword. It helps you to remember what you need to do, but at the same time, it nags you to accomplish more.

In focus booster, we have a feature to ease this kind of stress — the label feature.

You can see exactly where you spend your time and it will keep you focused during sessions if distractions arise.

All you need to do is enter the name of the task you want to work on, hit play on the timer and focus. We'll go into some detail about the timer later in this article.

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As for planning out an efficient to-do list. We have a free planning resource just for this too.

Note down the task you want to accomplish as 'today's priority,' and estimate how long you think it will take you to complete. Let's say six, 25-minute sessions. That's equivalent to 3 hours of work. And you can bang out a lot of work in just 3 hours if you set your mind to it, and focus.

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Clients or projects: Break down your tasks for each project or client

Since the early days, freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs have been focus booster's largest audience. That is why the client feature was invented, you can also track revenue by client.

But, we're now seeing a new type of audience... you! People new to working from home.

In this case, you can use the client feature as projects instead, like so:

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Every project is broken down into various elements like planning, meetings, research and any other individual tasks that may come into play. You can utilise our free planning resource here and enter 'today's priority' as the project name, and fill out the 'individual tasks' with each element of the project you want to complete today.

Like this:
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The pomodoro timer: 25-minute focus sessions to get the job done

When faced with a large daunting task or a task you really aren't sure how to get started on, break it into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Pick one of those pieces and make a goal to action this one task within 25-minutes. This is where a pomodoro timer helps.

The pomodoro technique is made up of a few simple rules;

  1. Pick a task to work on.
  2. Remove potential distractions; close your emails, shut down unneeded browser tabs and programs, switch your phone to flight mode or move it out of sight.
  3. Start a timer for 25 minutes and get started.
  4. When the timer is up, you will be notified. Now, take a short 5-minute break to stretch, fill up your water or coffee cup or, attend to any new messages from coworkers.
  5. Repeat the last 4 steps.
  6. After your fourth pomodoro session, take a longer break of 20 minutes.

When you take all of these rules and put a timer into the mix, it makes following each step that much easier.

The timer;

  • Keeps you committed to a single task at a time by narrowing your focus
  • Encourages you to become better at estimating time frames for tasks in future
  • Improves your technique when it comes to planning your to-do list
  • Helps you to gain a better understanding of what you can achieve in just 25 minutes

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As a result, you will notice the small dents you're making in larger tasks and will start to feel a boost of motivation to keep going.

Once you've completed a day of pomodoro sessions, check out your timesheets in the focus booster web app to see a detailed list of everything you achieved.

Time entries: View your progress and feel proud of your achievements

There is nothing worse than finishing a day of work and not really know what you accomplished.

Although you feel like you worked your butt off and hardly left your desk all day, you don't really have anything to show for it.

But, now that you know how to:

  • Plan out your day
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Use the pomodoro timer
  • Keep track of client/ project work

Wouldn't it be great to see a complete log of your hard work?

focus booster automatically keeps a log of all the sessions you completed so you can continue to make magic happen, and feel accomplished at the end of the day when you review your time entries.

You can review things like;

  • The tasks you worked on
  • Which client or project the task is linked to
  • How many sessions you completed for the day
  • The total time you spent working

Your timesheets teach you things about your workday that you wouldn't be able to identify otherwise. It is an insight that can change the way you work.

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Dashboard reports: Visualise your progress in graph form

When you track your time regularly and consistently, you can start to improve revenue, focus, productivity and even reduce procrastination.

If you keep at it, you can become a master tracker for just about anything from fitness and food, work, menstrual cycles for women, even your sleep.

You might be thinking, what exactly will I get from consistently tracking my time?

Well... data. Data that's insightful, visual and paints a clear picture of how you are progressing so you can pinpoint things like your powerful productivity moments.

In focus booster, we show you this with your dashboard reports, where you can visualise some really insightful elements like your:

  • Most productive day of the week
  • Your average daily session count
  • Your total productive time
  • Which client or project makes up the largest percentage of your time

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At the end of the day, time tracking isn't just about focusing on boosting your productivity, it's about building discipline so that you can achieve great things.

Managing internal stress during 'Stress Awareness Month'

It's ironic to think that April 2020 is Stress Awareness month, given the high level of stress our world is under.

We can't directly control what is happening around us but we can control how we manage our own stress in our homes, with our family members and with our work.

It's up to us to pave the future for the workforce now, giving the growing number of employees working from home.

It's easy to lose a sense of control when you begin working at home for the first time, so consider learning some new strategies that we've talked about, and you wouldn't have considered otherwise, like;

  • A new time management method — the pomodoro technique
  • Discover new tools like focus booster for tracking your time
  • Implementing a new planning method to de-stress your to-do list

When you begin to manage your time more wisely, you feel in greater control, better organised and more prepared for the day or week ahead.

Are you new to working from home? What are some of the struggles you're facing? Let us know in the comments.