How to tackle a difficult project while working from home

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The past week has been the biggest, most intense web design challenge for me to date.

Late last week, I quietly launched my new blog design and have been fixing minor things and adding content, etc. Either way, what happened over the past week has been the biggest, most intense web design challenge and push for me to date.

Hello Brio Studio blog redesign as featured on Dribbble

While the redesign has been on my mind for quite a long time (since last summer), most of the visibly progressive work was completed in the last 6 weeks. According to Toggl, I spent a total of 68 working hours on the redesign, excluding hours dedicated to research and painstaking backburner design angst.

I learned a lot about myself and my productive work habits during this period of vigorous work, and I'd like to share my tips with you!

Turn off notifications on your devices

I can't stress this enough. When facing a difficult task, it can be easy to let the procrastination bug bite, especially if you're receiving multiple texts here, then Google hangouts alerts there, then Twitter notifications there, then Facebook messages there.

Like I explained in my post about outsmarting your smartphone, just turn off your notifications. I also learned you can use the Do Not Disturb feature and turn off your notifications on your Mac - a hidden trick!

Work in larger chunks of time

Some days, I'd try to fit in 30 minutes of redesign work between other tasks. Maybe 1 hour. But I found I was most productive when I had at least 90 minute uninterrupted chunks. Whether that was Tony Schwartz in my head or not, the 90 minute sprints worked best for me.

Instrumental music lists allow you to focus

There's a surprising amount of modern and alternative instrumental music that doesn't fall under the techno or classical genre.

When I started using Spotify, I found this epic instrumental music shared playlist, and I've since curated my own "No Words, No Problem" list. There's a surprising amount of modern and alternative instrumental music that doesn't fall under the techno or classical genre. Some of my favorites are Jeremy Larson's instrumental albums (he's married to Elsie from A Beautiful Mess!)

Fuel smart

If you're into learning about productivity and energy levels, you've definitely heard this before. When faced with a difficult task, make sure to fuel smart. Don't over-fuel. Go for high protein and high nutrition.

Here's my favorite fueling meal as of late:

Cheese omelette with mixed greens, black coffee.

What this means for me is avoiding gluten. While I'm not as gluten intolerant as I used to be, having gluten really mellows me out in a bad way for productivity. Bagel = sleepy.

Make sacrifices

Yes. If you want to make something happen, you're going to have to make sacrifices. This means skipping out on some social activities. Staying in on a Friday night. Watching less TV. However,

if you're doing what you love, making these types of sacrifices won't be a big deal at all.

Sleep on it

When I had my site mostly working last Friday night (very late), I pushed it live. I had a list of things to work on the next morning, and I knew I'd be able to handle those tasks faster and smarter the next day with a solid night's sleep.

When you're stuck on something challenging, sleep on it

or walk away and do something completely different. Pushing forward into the wee hours of the morning can end up being counterproductive, and there's a good chance you'll be able to come up with your solution overnight.

Dressing for success is bull

I have to call nonsense on the "dressing for success" tip that I read in most "working from home" articles. If I'd worn a pencil skirt and a button down shirt during the 68 hours it took me to complete this website redesign, I would've gone batty.

Dress for comfort and functionality.

On a typical day, I get out of bed and put on running clothes for later that day. No need for slacks, a sweater, and heels. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend staying in your pajamas all day, having a nice looking set of loungewear and workout clothes will do just fine. It's part of the beauty of working from home. Dress in whatever what makes you feel comfortable and functional.

Also it doesn't hurt to dress in something that you can do a midday jumping jack session for when you're coding and you start to lose your mind.

What are your best tips for productivity? How do you push through on a challenging project?

Cover photo by Dillon Shook