Whitney Cummings’ Tips for Being Productive While Working from Home

When I go for a long run, I reach for podcasts more often than I reach for music. When I’m running long and slow(er), I find my brain delights in hearing spoken word. I turn the ideas presented over in my head and they linger long after the run is over. As someone who has worked from home since 1998, I found a particular segment of this podcast interesting, and so have written some down as a form of “CliffsNotes”, dear reader.

The podcast, “Return of the Money Shot”, was presented by Whitney Cummings as part of Tim Ferriss’ series. Unlike many of Tim’s podcasts, this was a session with just Whitney and the questions she’d selected. It was as if I’d stepped into her kitchen and we were just hanging out, talking. Such a great format to get into the mind of such a creative and talented comedienne and actress. You can learn more about Whitney Cummings at whitneycummings.com, but here’s what she had to say about staying productive while working from home.

RITUALS: She believes strongly in them. They’re important since they help avoid distraction and procrastination. Whitney uses mediation as a ritual to start off her day. Set a specific intention for the day. What do you need to focus on?

Use rituals to help avoid distraction and procrastination while you're working from home Click To Tweet

Me: I totally believe in the power of ritual, both personally and professionally. I don’t know where I’d be without my calendar, where I put everything that’s scheduled. More importantly, I use the Streaks app to make sure I’m doing things I’ve committed to do weekly. Each day my wife and I have a very specific ritual to start the day: coffee and a half hour of writing, packing lunches and sharing breakfast as a family, watching the prior night’s news with the kids and doing physical therapy stretching for running. In the summertime we make sure we take time at lunch to walk around our neighborhood together. I get crabby when I need to skip a ritual. Therefore, they rarely get skipped!

At work, too, I set an intention for the day. It’s awful when you get to the afternoon and emails and phone calls have taken up all of your time. Momentum is a great Chrome extension that’ll replace your homepage with something beautiful, asking “what is your main focus for today?” Every morning, answer that question. When you open up that browser tab to go to yet another Internet-based source of distraction, your stated intention greets you and gently reminds you to stay on task.

PREPARATION: Getting “ready” to work is important, regardless of whether you’re an office or at home. If you’re working from home, don’t stay in your pajamas. Get up, brush your teeth and put on some real clothes. Put on your shoes and wash your face. Don’t be a slob! Pretend that you are going to the office.

Me: I’m somewhat guilty of this. Not pajamas, mind you, but workout clothes. I usually fit a run in sometime during the day, usually morning. Then I can get cleaned up and put on some real clothes. I’ve had some days, though, where I’ve spent most if not all day in workout clothes. At least they’re comfortable!

ENVIRONMENT: Make your space nice. Light a candle. Flowers your thing? Put ‘em in your home office. She’s read a lot about color therapy, too. Find out what your power colors are and surround yourself with those colors. Things like candles, books and other tchotchkes are great ways to incorporate color.

Me: I do not yet know my power colors, but it sounds like a nice idea. I have a dedicated home office, and in establishing the space I made sure I used materials and wall colors that fit well with the vibe I was going for. It turned out really nice, and I truly enjoy the space each day.

PLAY: Awaken your inner child: play with your pets throughout the day. It’ll help re-energize you and help you come up with creative ideas.

Want to re-energize yourself and come up with creative ideas? Take a break while working from home… Click To Tweet

Me: If you don’t have a pet, I highly recommend one. We had eschewed pets for a long time, but acquired a rabbit whose owner is a teacher in our local school. She was having a child, so was looking for a new home for her classroom’s pet. This white rabbit quickly acclimated to our family of 4; I’m lucky to share my office with “Snowball.” Since he’s diurnal, he sleeps for part of the day. It’s so nice to get down on his level sometimes, scratch his ears and pet him, and evaporate any stresses. I’m not sure how much creativity he kindles in me, but he does make me smile and get out of my head several times a day. It’s priceless.

Listen: The Tim Ferriss Show: #215: The Return of the Money Shot (52:20 in)
Whitney Cummings on Twitter: @whitneycummings

2 responses

  1. Scott,
    Great practices for home-based workers here. I would add: track your time, even the non-billable time. Then periodically review how your time is spent. It will help identify distractions (“I’ll just move the laundry along…”). Now I’m off to get the Momentum extension. Thank you!

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