Productivity can hinge on compartmentalization, which is a vital habit of work-from-home professionals. “Anytime you can put something in a box, literally or figuratively, it helps you focus,” says Funt. “Email checking is compartmentalization. The paper anchor is compartmentalization.” Use this concept to end your day visually by opening a literal compartment, such as a drawer or a cabinet, and placing all of your work-related items inside. Tuck them in and clock out. “It’s not easy to clock out in a virtual world where we can be—and sometimes feel we should be—constantly available,” says Funt.
Use a “paper anchor,” a piece of paper, or a pad that sits to one side of your computer. “On it are three, five, or seven of the most critical tasks you want to focus on that day,” says Funt. “Using paper, which is intellectually uncomplicated and easy to interact with, will direct you forward more easily than the noisy chorus of tech-based checklists.
Instead, have a reductive mindset, where it becomes second nature to get rid of unnecessary things. “Developing a reductive mindset means you adopt a habit—a reflex, tendency, effortless first inclination—to . . . eliminate, or cut the unnecessary,” says Funt. “We must dismantle the additive instincts most companies and professionals have developed.”