Do you find it easy to stay focused while working at home? Are you more productive when working from home than working in an office? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then I’m pretty sure you’re not alone. In fact, “How to stay focused while working at home” is probably something that a lot of people have given much thought to.
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Pros and Cons of Working from Home
Working from home comes with many perks. These include:
- More flexibility
- An improved work-life balance
- Saving time and money on commuting.
But despite these benefits, there is also a downside to working from home, namely that there are usually more distractions at home, it’s harder to manage time effectively, and you may also feel isolated and lonely, especially if there is nobody else at home. Working from home and remaining focused and productive can therefore be extremely difficult. Without a formal office space, a prioritized schedule, and direct supervision, it’s quite easy to get distracted and get very little work done.
The following 10 tips, if incorporated into your daily schedule, can help you to vastly improve your focus and productivity while working from home.
10 Tips to Stay Focused at Home
- Start your day early and begin your morning at the same time as if you were commuting to the office and follow your usual routine, minus the commute. This includes getting out of your pajamas and getting dressed for work. Well maybe not literally getting dressed for work, but the point is….don’t work in your pajamas! Put makeup on if this is something you would usually do. Dressing for work (and possibly wearing make-up) can avoid any awkwardness that may occur if you get dialed in to a virtual meeting while you’re still in your pajamas! Sticking to a routine also helps to set the stage and tone for the rest of your day. You may even find that you now have enough time to do that morning workout which you’ve been avoiding for the longest while!
- Create a dedicated workspace. Ideally, this should have a good chair, a large desk, and a door which you can close to avoid distractions. Make sure that the area is clean, quiet, well-lit and, if possible, next to a window for extra sunlight. It should also be able to allow you to take phone and video calls quite easily. Try to avoid working in your bed or other areas of your house that are sacred to rest and relaxation. You should instead have an area which is dedicated to work that you can ‘leave’ at the end of your workday. If possible, set up multiple workstations in your home to allow a change of scenery throughout your workday.
- Set goals, organize your day and effectively manage your time. Set SMART goals relating to things that you want to accomplish and organize your work into clearly defined action plans, with specific deadlines to help you to stay on track. Effective time management is essential if you want to continue meeting deadlines while working from home. Use tools such as to-do lists, timesheets and the Pomodoro technique to get a proper grip on your time. The Pomodoro technique is a popular method for managing time by interspersing timed periods of focus with short breaks. There are also lots of apps that can help you to maintain focus and organize your workday into appropriate chunks of time.
- Take breaks including scheduled lunch breaks. When working in an office, you take breaks when you go to the bathroom, while you’re getting a snack, and even when you join a conversation with coworkers near your desk. Taking breaks at home, just like in the office, can help to rejuvenate you and increase your productivity. Just don’t take too many breaks, and for too long! And remember to take your lunch break!
- Effectively communicate with your supervisor, co-workers, family and friends. Let your supervisor and co-workers know when you’re available for work and reach an agreement on how you want them to communicate with you and when you want them to communicate with you. Let them know anytime you’re stepping away from your computer. Make it clear to them how they can get a hold of you if you’re busy, but they really need you. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate this information to them. Be active in group chats and be sure to participate in any problem-solving and morale boosting sessions. Also, give your friends and family the scheduled times that you will be available for calls (or visits) so that you can stay focused. Let them know that outside these times you are working and are not available for social calls (or visits). Remind your children that when you’re working, you’re not to be disturbed. However, don’t be too rigid on them. One of the greatest joys of working from home is being there for your kids.
- Be available for work during normal working hours. Make sure your computer is sufficiently charged and sound notifications are turned on, where available. Be ready for work during your regular work schedule, and at the end of the day, remember that work is done and so you should close or shut down your computer. Don’t fall into the trap of working overly long hours since you are now working from home. Self-preservation is still important.
- Eat Healthy. Don’t think that because you’re at home most of the time, you should just eat anything that comes before you. Eating balanced meals and snacking wisely will fuel your body with the right nutrition for proper concentration and focus.
- Get some exercise. I cannot overemphasize this point. Working from home should give you the flexibility to get some more exercise done so don’t use it as an excuse to live a sedentary lifestyle. Use the newly found flexibility to get moving! Stand up every now and then while working, even if it’s just for five minutes every hour. You could even create a stand-up challenge with your co-workers. Get outside for fresh air or go on a walk sometimes. You can also do stretching and meditating, which are great for reducing stress, relieving anxiety and boosting memory.
- Keep distractions to a minimum or eliminate them where possible. Managing distractions will enable you to balance your personal and work time properly. If possible, shut the door. Also, while working, avoid:
- Telephone calls – Use an answering machine or create a voice message which tells callers when you will be available to return their call.
- The Television – This should be turned off while you are working. It is a distraction that will not only slow you down but could also cause you to make costly errors.
- Personal emails and instant messaging – Turn off instant messaging. You can also check your personal emails first thing in the morning, during breaks, lunch, or even after work is done for the day.
- Housework – Try to schedule housework for allotted times, just as if you were working outside of your home.
- Reward yourself. Find ways to make certain tasks more enjoyable and rewarding and give yourself “treats” when they’re done. For example, permit yourself to have your favorite specialty coffee for completing certain tasks successfully and on time.
There are several advantages to working from home, but there are also many challenges too. Staying focused on doing your best may be difficult, but there are several things which you can do to motivate yourself to be as productive as if you were in the office.
In the foregoing section, I provided ten tips on how to stay focused while working at home. I am eager to learn if they are of great value to you. Please try them out and leave a comment below to let me know how they’ve been working out for you.