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How to Stay Focused While You Work at Home

Working from home instead of the office means trading in one set of distractions for another. Plus, you need to supervise yourself. How can you stay focused when your kids are bored, and Netflix just added your favourite show?

Remote work has lots of advantages, like greater flexibility and zero commuting time. However, in order to get your work done, it’s important to create a system that keeps you focused and productive.

You can succeed at remote work by providing your own structure and motivation. Use these ideas for dealing with internal and external distractions.

Dealing with Internal Distractions:

  1. Think positive. Build your own morale and drive, be your own boss. Think about the things you like about your job that can still motivate you even at home. Appreciate the opportunity to still do meaningful work that stretches your skills and helps others and the company you are working for.

  2. Write a to-do list. Create an action plan that fits in around your other responsibilities. Block out realistic time for each task. This can be done using paper and pen (this is my preference as hand written goals resonate more) - or download and use a free app.

  3. Schedule your day. Figure out your priorities and the hours when you’re most effective. Devote most of your resources to the activities that create the most and real value.

  4. Set goals. Give yourself specific targets to strive for. Know what you want to accomplish each day and over the long term.

  5. Designate a workspace. Carving out an area exclusively for work will help you keep your mind on your job. It can be a spare room or one corner in your studio apartment. Nothing but work must happen in this space.

  6. Reduce discomfort. Pay attention to ergonomics, especially if you’re working at home full-time. Arrange your workspace for maximum efficiency. Ask your employer if they’ll help cover the costs for equipment like headphones, keyboards, chairs etc. to improve ergonomics and reduce risk of RSI or other associated injuries.

  7. Take breaks. You’ll accomplish more if you allow yourself generous helpings of downtime. Try to pause and relax before you feel fatigued. Put regular breaks into your schedule, you are more likely to stick to these if they are built into your day.

  8. Move around. Exercise reduces stress and restores your energy. Use some of your break time to stretch or try skipping. Go for a walk or do yoga during your lunch hour.

  9. Lunch hours. Make sure you take a full lunch hour its important to get downtime and do other things. Ensure you don’t just go from siting at your desk to siting at the kitchen table – get out get some fresh air, change your environment.

Dealing with External Distractions:

  1. Ask for support. Let your boss, colleagues, family, and friends know when you need help. Be willing to return the favour when you see them struggling.

  2. Arrange childcare. Finding someone to watch your children has become more difficult for many parents. Keep in touch with other families to learn about options near you or ask your employer about taking leave if necessary. See if you can work flexibly around school drop-offs and pick-ups etc.

  3. Set boundaries. Let others know the hours when you’re available for collaboration and when you need to work without interruptions. Shut your door and turn off your phone for tasks that require concentration.

  4. Interact with others. On the other hand, socialising is a valuable part of your workday too. Participate in virtual happy hours and stick around to chat before and after video meetings.

  5. Play music. This is your chance to control the soundtrack at work. Create a variety of playlists to mask background noise or stimulate creative thinking. Listening to classical music is said to enhance concentration and focus.

  6. Eat healthy. Your kitchen can be a distraction too. Plan your daily menu in advance around nutritious meals and snacks. It’s easier to turn down junk food when you feel full. Remember; if it’s not in the house you can’t consume it!

  7. Limit media. Facebook, Instagram and streaming videos may consume much of your day unless you eliminate such temptations. Find methods that work for you such as turning off notifications or setting time limits on sites where you tend to linger too long. If it’s not scheduled don’t do it!

  8. Friends & Family. With so many of us now working from home, it is easy to be enticed to go for coffees, drinks, lunches, breakfast – this list is endless. Taking breaks, getting out and socialising is imperative to a healthy work life balance – but it needs to be exactly that a good balance.

Working from home certainly is a change and needs some thought and application.

Ensure you develop the communication and organisational skills you’ll need to excel at working from home.

Use your daily schedule wisely, build in focused work time as well as good downtime, whether media or getting out and about and socialising.

Balance really is the key to successful and enjoyable home working.

You can be a high performer whether you’re sitting in an office cubicle or on your patio.

Good Luck and Enjoy Being Your Own Boss!


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