The following article is part of a series of articles about our NerdWallet Internship program. Sakina Mithani shared their experience as an software engineer intern. If you are curious about joining NerdWallet as an intern or full-time employee, please apply for one of our open positions!
When I first started my remote internship at NerdWallet approximately 4 months ago, I remember being worried about my productivity level working from home – a place where every distraction I have is readily available to distract me. With apps like TikTok taking over, I thought it would be interesting to look through the internet for “productivity hacks”, in addition to sharing my own productivity tips I have developed throughout my internship.
This TikTok tip emphasizes the importance of not just creating a to-do list of tasks you want to get done throughout the day, but to also separate these tasks into blocks of time.
This is a great tip! If you find yourself easily distracted from one task to another, and in turn, taking a lot longer to get a task completed, time blocking is your friend :) It’s a great way to ensure you have singular focus on a task in order to complete it quicker and with more focus.
To learn more about time blocking & how to get started doing it, check out this helpful article: https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/time-blocking
The Pomodoro method is the epitome of the saying “work hard, play [break] hard”. In this method, you set a 25 minute timer and work on a single task until the timer goes off. Then, you take a 5 minute break. This cycle between 25 minutes of work to 5 minutes off continues until all your scheduled “pomodoros” (focused work sessions) are complete.
I think in theory this idea sounds great – you get a good balance between working and enjoying a break. However, in practicality, something I find very difficult is getting started with working after having taken a break – often, it takes me 10 minutes to get back into a focused mindset and then I can work for a good chunk of time (hours, not just 25 minutes). To follow this technique, I would waste just a little less than half of each “pomodoro” getting re-focused.
In my opinion, if you’re struggling with staying focused – this is a great place to start! It will help you build up the “work hard, break hard” mindset, which you can then adjust to whatever timings work best for you.
This productivity hack is based on scientific research saying that dark chocolate can boost energy levels and increase your ability to stay focused.
Now this is my favourite hack! Unfortunately, as a chocolate lover, the reason it’s my favourite is definitely because of the chocolate and not because it actually helps my productivity. While I don’t know all the scientific reasoning behind this hack, I can’t imagine that it’s too good to rely on a certain item to help you with your productivity. However, I would argue that for me, something like a cup of coffee helps “set the mood” that it’s time to work in my mind – if chocolate does that for you, I fully support it!
Start off with a smaller, easier task to get you into a working mindset
For me, the hardest part of being productive is getting started. By starting off with a smaller, easier task on my todo list, my mind is more motivated to start work because there is a fairly quick reward. Once I start working on this smaller task, I naturally fall into a focused mindset and can then take on the rest of my tasks.
A great small task to start with in the mornings is to respond to emails and/or slack notifications as it gets you started for the day and refocused on your work from the day(s) before.
While I don’t have a strict ratio between how much time I work versus how long my break is, or alternate between working and taking a break like in the pomodoro method, I think taking breaks is super important. I tend to use my time in the morning, before lunch, to do tasks which require the highest degree of focus as those are the hours my mind is the most productive. Then, I can use lunch as a break – often without a screen – and then refocus after lunch.
Another great break is to workout. During lunch or sometime in the afternoon (yay work from home), working out can be a great way to take a break from screens and to get your mind off your work. For me, this is the age-old secret of putting a problem to the back of your mind, and when you refocus on it post workout, you’ll have some awesome new ideas/solutions to it!
And those are all of them!
I hope these productivity tips can help you in your work environment. Now clearly, one thing I can do is get off productivity tik tok and get back to work! Hope those hacks help :)