8 Habits of Super-Productive People Who Work From Home

How to keep yourself accountable, collaborative, and productive — even when working from home.

By Thomas Oppong 

After years of working from coffee shops and personal home desks, there’s one thing I’m sure of — working remotely takes a lot of purposeful planning.

Working from home is fantastic… right up until your neighbour starts firing up all sorts of power tools and noisy machinery across the street. Managing your own time and choosing your hours can be incredibly hard if you don’t deliberately plan your day ahead of time.

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “While you are alone you are entirely your own master.” When working remotely, you are more likely to spend half your time battling procrastination, distractions, or managing energy dips. If you give in to your distractions, you could wind up devoting productive time to fighting off the guilt that comes from giving in to those distractions.

In the wake of COVID-19, many people are suddenly finding themselves working remotely, and often in close quarters with young children, partners, and family. So how can you keep your focus regardless of your environment?

Start Work as Early as Possible

Rising before the sun is a habit shared by most successful people. In a poll of 20 executives cited by Vanderkam, 90% said they wake up before 6 am on weekdays. This makes sense from a productivity standpoint — you will have fewer distractions and a close to a peaceful environment to focus.

Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Merely starting tasks first thing in the morning before the rest of your family or roommates have woken up can be the key to making real progress.

Plus, according to one study, waking up early can also make you happier. Some evidence suggests that morning light exposure, which results in a phase advance of the sleep/wake cycle, improves depressive symptoms in seasonal affective disorder.

 Dedicate Mornings to High-Value Work

Work on your high-value tasks first thing in the morning — cut the planning and start doing real work when you are most active.

Don’t waste all that mental clarity and energy on planning what to do for the next eight hours. If you are a morning person, you can get a tonne done in the early morning hours. It pays to focus on essential tasks for the day during your morning.

A plan from yesterday makes it easier to get started right away when you get up. Kenneth Chenault, the former CEO and Chairman of American Express, once said in an interview that the last thing he does before leaving the office is to write down the top three things he needs to accomplish tomorrow. Then he uses that list to start his day the following morning.

If You’re Not a Morning Person, Work When You’re Most Productive

 When you’re working from home, it’s important to recognise when you are most focused and energetic and to plan your schedule around that. Energy is the critical component we all need to consistently produce our best work, no matter where we are.

For example, if you’re a morning person and are most clearheaded, creative, and productive from 9 am to 12 pm, use that burst of energy to get things done at that time.

If you are a night-owl and need a few hours to ease into the day, leverage your afternoons and evenings. If you are productive between the hours of 3 pm and 11 pm, plan your tasks accordingly and make those your work hours.

The point is that you can increase your energy by working with your body rather than fighting against it and forcing it to fit into anybody’s clock other than your own internal one. It’s better to concentrate your energy into a specific period than randomly insert it across chunks of time.

To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them.

Prepare For a Successful Morning in Advance

 Planning your day the night before will give you back a lot wasted hours in the morning and lower your stress levels. The first quiet hour of the morning can be an ideal time to focus on meaningful work without being interrupted.

Try this tonight. If you’re happy with the results, then commit to trying it for a week. After a week, you’ll be able to decide whether you want to add “night-before planning” to your life.

Structure Your Day As You Would Normally

 When working from home, you manage practically everything — calendar, projects, tasks, and breaks. Without a proper structure, you can quickly lose focus or burn out.

“I make an hour-by-hour contract with myself that basically says, ‘When nap time starts, what are the two things I’m going to do?’” Martin said. “I write it on a piece of paper. A lot of people like to keep digital notes, but then when I sit down, there’s no question like, ‘what am I going to do?’” says Laura Mae Martin, Google’s in-house productivity expert.

To stay on schedule, segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. Use an online calendar to create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. If your mornings are for writing while in the office, use the same schedule at home.

“Try to stick to some semblance of your original routine from before you started working from home,” says Eric Lam, a cross-asset reporter for Bloomberg. “Give yourself a little bit of time before you start to wake yourself up, have a coffee, make breakfast. Especially for those of us — like me — who are not morning types.”

You could even dress the part and remind yourself you are in work-mode. That means comfortable work clothes — not pyjamas. “It makes me feel awake, fresh, productive, and less slovenly,” says Kristine Servando, deputy head of Bloomberg Asia digital. “It was part of the mental trick of demarcating between work and the rest of your life.”

And remember to take breaks, refresh and recover. When you live in your office, it’s easy to overwork. Log off when you’re supposed to. And resist the urge to come back to your computer after dinner.

Separate Work Zones From Relaxing Zones

 When you work from home, it’s easy to curl up in bed with a laptop and pretend that you’re “working”.

To improve your efficiency, build a separate home office/desk just for work. This sets your brain up for enhanced productivity — your brain gets spatially wired to think of the office as the place where work happens.

“By working in the same space each day, your brain starts to associate that spot with working. If you work in a different spot every day, your brain has to retrain itself every day to get work done in that spot,” says Martin.

Cancel Noise For Focus

 The closest thing to magic for your money when working remotely is noise-cancelling technology. I bought my first pair of noise-cancelling headphones years ago. And I’ve never regretted the decision.

Working from home may expose you to sounds that become irritating or unbearable over time: traffic and street noise that penetrate through windows, the tick of a clock somewhere, etc. If you have kids, they probably would be playing close to your workspace.

Noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds are great at removing those sorts of sounds almost entirely. They can also dull the sound of talking if you’re in a place in which other people (like your family or roommates) have to also function.

Combined with music, they work even better. The absence of background noise effectively enhances the music, and you can work without the distraction during your “focused” period.

Keep Socialising

 Connecting with other people is needed more than ever to stay healthy, productive, happy and sane. You can hold virtual meetings, jump on a phone call, or send a friend a text. Reach out and support one another — and laugh!

“If you’re the kind of person who’ll miss your colleagues when you work from home, build opportunities for socialising into your day,” says Karen Eyre-White, a productivity coach and founder of GoDo business organisation, who recommends trying to call colleagues rather than using email or Slack messaging.

Modern technology has made it insanely easy to stay connected. Use tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Workplace and Trello to stay connected with friends and colleagues at work. Positive social support can improve our resilience in coping with stress. Check-in with your friends, family, and neighbours regularly.

Working from home can be challenging for many people. How you choose to face that challenge won’t just determine your productivity — it will determine your mental health and even your happiness.

For more by this author, see Mind Cafe

Telehealth psychological sessions available for all Australians

Chelsea Psychology is ready for online Telehealth sessions with a direct and secure link available through our practice management system.


Here's part of a message from The Australian Psychological Society on 29 March to all Psychologists offering more information about Telehealth sessions. 

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $1.1 billion package to boost Medicare, mental health and domestic violence services during the coronavirus outbreak.

From tomorrow, universal telehealth - including for psychological services - will be available to all Australians.

This means that all Australians will be able to access their psychologist using telehealth during the coronavirus outbreak.

We understand that the items will be made available from tomorrow, and will be in place until 30 September 2020.

This is very welcome news indeed, and follows weeks of intense APS lobbying to Government.

However, while the measures announced today are very welcome and much needed, we believe there is still much more the Government can do to further support psychologists and their clients, and we will continue to lobby government.

In particular, we will continue to lobby the Government to provide more sessions to Australians who have a mental health care plan, by extending the currently available 10 sessions to at least 20 sessions.

We are also asking Government to extend bulk-billing incentives and practice incentives to psychologists, including those who continue to provide face-to-face services to vulnerable Australians during this unprecedented time."





Reaching out to help you confront the challenges of COVID-19

We are sure you are all struggling, as we are, with the rapid and unexpected changes and challenges presented by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Everyone feels unprepared for this crisis, and at the same time, we are all doing our best to ensure the safety of family, friends, neighbours, communities and beyond.

More than ever, we need to connect with others. However, that opportunity is being taken from us one minute at a time as isolating ourselves for safety reasons becomes increasingly important. Chelsea Psychology in Nedlands is keeping the office open for face to face sessions. The decision, made by all our therapists and staff, is recognition of the need for you to personally connect and explore the issues that are emerging as we enter unexplored territory.  At the same time, we have put into place many procedures to ensure your safety.

Please let us know if you cannot physically come to the office to see your therapist and we can organise alternative options which may include open-air consultations as well as online Telehealth and telephone sessions.

You can also help us by paying in advance. We will email you an invoice and online payment options the day before your appointment. Please remember to bring in your own water bottle. If you are coming to the office, it’s best to wait downstairs or in the courtyard to adhere to social distancing regulations.  Just let us know you have arrived by texting 0421296688.

Be well, stay calm and breathe deeply, longer out than in.
Above all, be kind to yourself and others.

Health Anxiety and COVID-19

14 March 2020 The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is leading to huge levels of anxiety across the globe. People seem to be trying to manage their fears through an increasing need for control by rushing out to buy more basic goods than they need. They may believe that they have the virus and panic, or develop increasing concerns about the availability of treatment.

We need to stay calm and attempt to stay as strong and as healthy as possible - and support others to do the same.

Health anxiety has been a big problem in recent years due to real and perceived threats. It seemed to begin in the early 1990s with increasing understanding – and misinformation – about the HIV virus.  Since then we have experienced many hurdles, like SARS, the Ebola Virus and Bird Flu.  However, none has created such a global effect until the outbreak of COVID-19.  In just a few weeks, Governments across the world have been forced to introduce drastic and understandable measures to protect their health systems and ensure that those most vulnerable to the Coronavirus can receive adequate treatment.

We are still uncertain as to what lies ahead, and uncertainty often leads to increased anxiety.  Already, uncertainty is embedded in our lives, affecting us in real and imagined ways, leading to mental health issues as people attempt to regain control of their lives. Eating disorders, compulsions, and other behavioural and emotional disorders can stem from uncertainty. And if we ultimately feel unable to cope with the change and unpredictability that life offers us, it's understandable that we can begin to feel defeated and depressed.

Helpful steps to manage high levels of anxiety in this rapidly changing world include getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, regular exercise and making time for hobbies, meditation, yoga, and music to redirect your mind and calm your body.  Read through our library for many helpful articles on managing anxiety and keeping yourself well. The Australian Government website offers information on how to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. And here's some information to help you to be prepared for further restrictions, a quarantine or a lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Overwhelming fear and anxiety can affect your physical health. If you are finding that even the thought of COVID-19 is elevating your anxiety to an uncomfortable degree, or have other concerns, such as separation from your family, call us at Chelsea Psychology 93866020.

On a behavioural level, here's some advice from health professionals about “right” action:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and/or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)
  • Exercising personal responsibility for social distancing measures.

We are doing our best at Chelsea Psychology to keep our waiting room and therapy rooms as clean, hygienic and comfortable as possible. If you do not wish to spend time at the desk, you are welcome to pay online before attending your session.  We will email you a receipt and you can claim your Medicare rebate through the Medicare app

We are here to help you and to alleviate your anxiety in any way we can. The symptoms of Coronavirus include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  If you or anyone with whom you have come into close contact has symptoms of a cold, flu or is generally feeling unwell, or has recently travelled overseas, please use the recommended 14 days of self-quarantine before returning to Chelsea Psychology.

Please feel free to call 03866020.

Eating Disorders

Sharon Ridley, Clinical Psychologist

 When I was asked to write a post about Eating Disorders I was surprisingly a bit stumped. Caught between feeling like I know a great deal after working with eating disorders for a decade now (a decade?! When did that happen?) and also feeling that I do not know enough.

You see, if we in the field knew enough, people would not still be dying from anorexia-related complications and suicide, children (boys and girls) as young as primary school age would not be reporting negative body image as one of their biggest concerns, there wouldn’t be a life-time prevalence of 1 in 6 Australian females suffering from an eating disorder (look around your next yoga or spin class, statistically someone in the room has had, or is currently battling, an eating disorder).  So clearly there is more to be learned, so much more that we have to keep throwing our support and funding behind critical research, and the hospitals (public and private) that work every day to get women and men back to health. I guess what I can share from 10 years of service in this area is that there are many stories of hope, there are little wins and big wins, and there are heart-warming recoveries that remind me we do know a decent amount and it does work in a lot of cases.

What would I tell a loved one that came to me looking for advice to get an eating disorder treated in Perth?

  • Go to your GP and discuss referral options, whether that be a referral to a public eating disorder service or a Mental Health Care Plan to access a private psychologist that understands eating disorders.
  • Consider seeing a dietitian that has a lot of experience with eating disorders; nutrition will form the cornerstone of your recovery and often people feel more secure with a lot of guidance in the early stages until they can trust their hunger and fullness once more and eat more intuitively. A dietitian can tailor a plan to suit you that becomes increasingly more flexible as your anxiety reduces and confidence increases.
  • Consider taking medication as necessary; your GP or a psychiatrist can guide you in the right direction. Whilst there is no medication that specifically treats eating disorders, many people benefit from anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication while they make steps towards recovery. There is some evidence to suggest certain medications are helpful for bulimia nervosa and binge eating tendencies.
  • Prepare yourself for a journey, not a quick fix. Some people can make huge strides very quickly, while others may take months. Some have to have a couple of bites at the cherry, pardon the pun, before they get going. Regardless, do not hesitate to seek help because the sooner you start doing something about it, the sooner you can feel better.
  • Eating disorders do not go away by themselves and the longer they are left untreated the more physical and psychological damage is done. Get on it!
  • And I would say “you can do this!”. It is not your fault that you have this illness, and it thrives in the shadows of secrecy and shame. By asking for help you are already taking a vital step towards getting out of the grips of your eating disorder and taking back control of your life.

Finally, if your eating disorder therapist doesn’t think adding cheese to your salad is a big deal even though you haven’t touched cheese since the Spice Girls were together, then you need a new therapist because small changes are a big deal! It is when you add up all the small changes that you get a life free of pre-occupation with food, weight, shape, and exercise, a life that is not dictated by the number on the scale or what you see in the mirror, a life where your first reaction when you are invited out to eat is not a panic-stricken one, a life worth living to its fullest.


"Protect" them or let them run wild?

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist


I am often asked why young adults these days seem to suffer from so much anxiety. Seemingly happy, well-adjusted young men and women present to my clinic puzzled by the fact that they experience regular to intermittent symptoms of panic and anxiety. 

I usually say that I am not sure why there seems to be so such a glut of debilitating symptoms of anxiety amongst young people, except that perhaps we are better able to diagnose it. 

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Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

The essence of psychodynamic psychotherapy is exploring aspects of the self that are the psychological roots of emotional suffering and bringing them into consciousness. Psychodynamic psychotherapy requires self-reflection, self-exploration and self-discovery which takes place in the context of a safe and deeply authentic relationship between therapist and patient. The material that arises provides a rich source of information about how a person views themselves and others, interprets and makes sense of their experience, and interferes with the potential capacity to find greater enjoyment and meaning in life. The goal is not just symptom remission, but to foster positive psychological capacity. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic and stress-related physical ailments, and the benefits of the therapy have been shown to increase after treatment has ended.

Relationship Changes After Birth

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

The birth of your first child will bring changes to every aspect of your life. One of the most challenging may be the impact it has on your relationship with your partner. It can present enormous changes, as you will need to negotiate differences that may have not arisen prior. Some of these many include:

Finances: Many couple are used to each earning money and having control over how and what they spend their money on. For some couple this may be the first time they have done joint finances and the person no earning (typically the woman for at least some period) may find it difficult to have to ask for money or feel she has to justify what she is spending.

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Anxiety Disorders

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychological problems, affecting up to 25% of the population at some point in their lifetime. Most anxiety disorders do not tend to go away on their own if left untreated. They tend to stay the same or get worse over time, with an increasing impact on people’s quality of life, work and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. The most common are Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social phobia, specific phobias, Acute and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

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Coping With Trauma

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

At times in people lives they may experience an event that we would describe as traumatic this is usually an event that involves serious injury or threat to life. It may include an assault, sexual or physical abuse, car or work accident, natural disaster, being a victim of torture or war, a serious medical illness or operation (including labour). It can also include witnessing such events. Some people may also have experienced trauma in childhood that they may never have disclosed that may be re-activated or exacerbated by another traumatic event later in their lives.

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The ups and downs of FIFO

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

The ups and downs of fly in, fly-out (FiFo)
(Also known as drive-in, drive-out (DiDo) and bus-in, bus-out (BiBo)

What are the stressors and health implications for travelling shift workers?

In Western Australia, we hear a lot about the Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) lifestyle, where people are required to travel to their jobs and live for extended periods of time on site during rostered work time. FIFO contracts require employees to live and work away from their family and friends, and return to a location of choice when off duty.

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The Bear is in Your Head

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

Anxiety and the Fight/Flight Model

In primitive days, the biggest stressors we had in our lives were physical dangers such as enemies from other tribes, snakes, lions, and bears. We are biologically adapted to manage these physical dangers generally by running from them, or fighting them.

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Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

Individuals have different tolerance levels for stress, but most of us know when we are going through a stressful period. Our muscles become tense, our hearts beat faster and our palms can feel sweaty. Emotionally, we might feel intolerant, irritable and unpredictable. The effects of stress are evident in our physical reactions, our emotions and our behaviours. Stress is created by the way we see the world (internal sources of stress), and the stressful events in our lives (external sources of stress).

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Social Engagement - A Pathway to Relaxation

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

My clients wonder why, in some situations, they behave like calm, loving, enlightened human beings towards their partners, and at other times, they scream and shout at the person they love, surprising even themselves.

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Older Adults and Psychology

It is never too late in life to obtain assistance for psychological / mental health problems that you are unable to sort out by yourself or with friends or loved ones.

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Mindfulness - A Stress Management Strategy

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices, where attention is brought to the present moment. Mindfulness can occur whether you are sitting in meditation, washing the dishes, watching television, or running a marathon. It is the opposite of mindlessness, where you feel out of touch with yourself and your mind is elsewhere.

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Hakomi Psychotherapy

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist and Certified Hakomi Therapist

Hakomi is a form of body-centred psychotherapy which focuses on using mindfulness to enable positive and lasting changes in the client. The basis of the relationship between the client and the therapist in Hakomi is based on loving presence which hopefully will lead to mutual trust and respect, creating a space where deep emotional work and consequent changes in core beliefs can occur. Hakomi is also called assisted self-study, where the client is seen as the expert of their own processes. The therapist is there to support the client in accessing material which may have been repressed, and help the client to better understand his or her behaviour and become more loving to the self.

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Grief and Loss

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

Intense emotional reactions are common in the first few weeks following a bereavement and can include shock, disbelief, crying, anger, guilt, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in activities and social contact. Everyone varies in how they grieve. Many people may want to talk a lot about their feelings and others may want to grieve more privately. For most people the frequency and intensity of these symptoms will decrease within a couple of months however, it can be a prolonged process.

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Therapists at Chelsea Psychology are often asked to recommend authors, books and websites. Below are some of the resources we have found most helpful. Articles in our Library were written with the guidance of some of these authors, books and links.

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Postnatal Depression and Anxiety

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

Although becoming pregnant and giving birth are amazing experiences women it is also an enormous time of transition which impacts on every aspect of your life. For some it can be a time when they experience symptoms of depression and / or anxiety that can significantly interfere with the enjoyment of this time. Estimates of depression and anxiety vary depending on the assessment used, overall about 9% will have depression in pregnancy and about 15% postnatally. Rates of anxiety have been found to be about 20% with 2/3 of those also having depression.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

ACT is a new type of cognitive behaviour therapy. It teaches clients to accept thoughts and feelings with compassion and develop new ways of relating to them rather than struggling with or trying to avoid them as this usually unworkable and leads people to restrict their lives. This enables them to instead focus on what really matters in their lives, what they want their life to stand for and take action towards achieving these valued life goals and living a full, rich and meaningful life.

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What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence–based treatment approach developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan for people who have emotions they are unable to manage in constructive ways. People who have difficulty in regulating emotions typically suffer from intense and painful emotions from which they may feel there is no escape. They may also experience quick shifts from one emotion to another and may feel like emotions are controlling their life.

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Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

A major depressive episode is a very confusing and debilitating illness, which can leave previously high functioning people floundering on the couch, feeling totally inadequate and unable to complete simple tasks.

Depression has been described as the common cold of mental disorders, and most people will be affected by the illness directly or indirectly. Depression and its diagnosis is very confusing - what is depression exactly and what makes it different from feeling low for a few days?

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Bipolar Disorder

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

Bipolar Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. Some sufferers struggle with unpredictable mood swings for years before they receive appropriate treatment. They find everyday situations difficult to confront because of their internal emotional havoc, and they don't understand why life seems so hard. People with Bipolar Disorder can be very high functioning, but their bouts of debilitating depression and occasional manic episodes confound their lives.

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Changing Bad Habits

Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist

Habits are a choice, no matter how addicted to them you might feel. You may well be addicted to staying in bed on a cold winter morning, but would prefer to stay healthy, so you rise at 5.30 and go to your yoga class. Your preference for health and fitness is stronger than your need for warmth and comfort.

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