6 tips to stay focused when working from home

by Wendy Soon on December 9, 2013

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Working from home rocks — no commuting, no polluting the environment, no squeezing in the trains, no traffic jams, no long bus rides. But there are negative sides to working from home too. One major contributor is the evil monster called ‘distraction’. The TV is within view. The computer game is calling out to you. The bed looks more comfortable than the chair you are sitting in. Your kid is innocently smiling and blinking at you, waiting to be cuddled. How do you stay focused and maintain productivity when working from home? Here are some tried and tested tips that you can consider:

 

  1. Set up a routine. Assign a fixed “working hour” despite having the flexibility to work anytime you like. Figure out your most productive hours. Are you a morning person? An afternoon person? Do you prefer to work in multiple short bouts? Or do you prefer to work late into the night when your children are asleep? Pick your personal productive hours, and focus on your work then. If you do not know what time you are most productive, try out different time slots each week, then see which time slot resulted in your most productive week. Stick to that. Having an allocated time for work would help get you into that mindset of working, thus helping you to focus on work rather than all other distractions.

  2. Create a physical workspace. Don’t just try to work in bed or crouch over the coffee table. We all know the bed is probably the most comfortable place to sit (or lie) all day, but that isn’t the most productive place (for work, that is). Instead, get a proper working desk and chair, with good lighting above. Simulate a working environment to help get yourself into the mood. Ensure comfort and good ergonomics to prevent having to move around and getting distracted by pains in the neck or back. Being productive is not all in the mind — it’s in the body too.

  3. Remember you are still working! Working from home does not mean you don’t work anymore. You just don’t work in an office. So if you have work to do in the morning, try not to party out all night the night before. Attention span and mental focus still requires a rested mind and body — regardless of whether you’re working at the office or from home. So maintain a lifestyle as you would if you were working (and you are!).

  4. Block out distractions. Distractions at home are the biggest culprit to low productivity, so be proactive in removing as many of these distractions as possible. Turn off the television, put the phone at vibration / silent mode. Keep your favorite game / musical instrument / knitting kit out of view. Tell your friends and family that you are still working, even though you are at home. Clear the important household chores before starting work, so you don’t have them hanging at the back of your mind throughout the time you are trying to work. By blocking out distractions prior, you will have to do less to fight them as you work.

  5. Set daily goals and to-do lists. Being organized is the first step to being productive. Know what you have to do, know which are important, which are urgent, and which are optional. Set priorities and make to-do lists. Classify these by date of completion, so you are not distracted by the total number of things to do, but just focused on what needs to be done by the end of the day. Set daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals to increase your focus and your motivation (It is always encouraging to be able to check things off a list quickly). This tip is useful not only when you are working from home, but anywhere!

  6. Take regular breaks. Working from home is the same as working anywhere else. Your body has a limited attention span. Beyond that optimal span, you start losing focus. Instead of forcing yourself to stay focused and churning out work at a lower productivity rate, reward yourself with a short 15 minute coffee break / garden break / tv break, before getting back to work at full focus again. Not only will your body thank you, you will also be able to focus better and eventually finish up your work faster.

 

Did these tips help you? Or do you have other tips that work for you? Share it with us below! 🙂

 

Prasad December 10, 2013 at 3:54 am

I think the biggest distraction (#4) now a days is social media.

Wendy Soon December 10, 2013 at 4:05 am

Totally agree! Social media is such a troubling thing… a double edged sword… can’t live without it though ;P

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