Working from home offers lots of benefits like a better work/life balance, no time wasted commuting and greater overall happiness. Unfortunately, not everyone can work productively at home because they get distracted by doing chores or turning on the TV.
On the flip side, you may end up consumed by work – staying up late into the night because there’s no one telling you it’s time to stop for the day.
If you’re wondering how to stay focused when working from home, these 10 tips will show you the way.
1. Work at a Dedicated Space
As tempting as it might be to work on the couch or in your bed, establishing a dedicated workspace can help turn on the right mindset to work. When you walk into an office for the day, your brain automatically recognizes you’re at work; it turns off distractions and allows you to focus on your job. Creating a dedicated workspace in your home and working there each day will have the same effect. Just like you associate your bed with sleeping, you will associate your workspace with working.
Even if you have a limited amount of square footage to work with, invest in a desk and comfortable chair. Dress up your workspace with personal touches and décor that make you feel happy about sitting there. If possible, set up your workspace in an area that limits distractions. If this isn’t possible, keep headphones handy for times when it might get too loud. With a setup like this, your working from home productivity will definitely increase.
2. Turn Off Social Media and Notifications
It’s too easy to let your phone’s notifications distract you. After you see a few, you might feel tempted to pick it up to see what’s going on. The next thing you know, you’re an hour deep into your Instagram feed and you’ve accomplished no work.
Do yourself a favor and turn your phone on “do not disturb” mode. If that doesn’t help, blocking certain apps at certain times using your phone’s screen time settings is also effective. If social media is a big problem for you, block yourself from being able to use those apps during work hours.
Using a browser plugin like StayFocused on Google Chrome is also helpful for your working from home productivity. The plugin blocks social media websites from your computer during certain hours.
Lastly, turn off your computer notifications so they don’t distract you every time an email comes through. Instead, schedule time in your day to check and respond to emails. Respecting that boundary will help you get a lot more done.
3. Get Dressed Before Working From Home
Although you don’t need to put on a pencil skirt or three-piece suit when working from home, changing out of your pajamas can create a more productive mindset. Establishing daily rituals like getting out of bed, getting dressed and brushing your teeth all help you feel like you have somewhere to be and something to do. Even if you’re changing out of your pajamas to yoga pants or workout attire, it can make all the difference in your working from home productivity.
4. Set Boundaries While Working From Home
One of the most crucial steps in learning how to be productive working from home is setting boundaries. It’s a common misconception for people to assume that working from home means you’re not working hard. Let your friends and family know that just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean that you can drop your work for the day to talk to them on the phone or grab a last-minute brunch.
Although working from home allows more flexibility with your schedule, don’t let spontaneous midday plans interfere with your productivity.
5. Create a Consistent Schedule
Consistency is the key to any success, whether you’re losing weight, saving money or working productively at home. Learn how to be productive working from home by establishing a consistent schedule. Start by giving yourself set working hours. This forces you to accomplish all of your work within a certain window. Be sure to factor in workouts, lunch breaks and any potential midday plans into your schedule.
If you have tasks to tackle every day, block time in your calendar to only take care of those tasks. If you hate answering emails, schedule time to complete this first thing in the morning so you don’t have to dread getting to it at the end of the day. If your brain works more creatively in the afternoon, save your creative projects for then.
At the beginning of the week, sit down and lay out your schedule for the entire week. Use a digital calendar, project management software or even physical paper to accomplish this. Whether you want to make a specific list of to-dos or just decide which hours you will work, establishing any type of consistent schedule will help you become more productive.
6. Schedule an Exercise Break
It’s easy to get lost in your tasks when you’re working from home. This is one drawback of the arrangement – you might even find yourself immobile for the majority of the day. If you were working in an office, you would at least get steps in by walking to your car or going out to lunch!
Even if you work from home it’s still important to get regular exercise. It only makes sense to take advantage of your flexible schedule to get in a workout, long walk or gym time at some point during the day. Set aside time every day to squeeze in a gym session, walk or home workout. This will get your blood pumping, improve your health and increase your working from home productivity as the endorphins flow through you.
7. Discover Your Focus Zone
Everyone requires something different to help them get into their focus zone. It may take a lot of trial and error to find yours, but once you find it, use it every day. Try moving your dedicated workspace around your home, listening to different types of music, working different hours of the day or even working outside your home. Once you figure out what helps you focus, use this every day to improve your working from home productivity.
Productivity intervals can also help improve focus. It involves working for an allotted amount of time and then taking a break, then completing this cycle for the entire day. For example, you would work for 30 minutes straight without any distractions and then give yourself a five-minute break to do anything you want. Play around with different intervals to see what helps you stay the most productive.
8. Don’t Overwork
One of the most common mistakes people make when they first begin working from home is not knowing when to clock out for the day. Since you no longer have a commute to occupy your time, you might think it’s a good idea to work longer and get more done.
Don’t try this: Working too much quickly leads to burnout, which will kill your productivity. To protect yourself from burnout, stick to your consistent schedule and only put in extra hours when absolutely necessary.
9. Take Breaks While Working From Home
Like working too many hours, not taking breaks can also lead to burnout. Taking a break means getting up, stretching and stepping away from your computer for at least 15 minutes at a time. You would take breaks while working in an office, so give yourself the same privilege at home.
Take a walk, give your mom a call, hang out with your pet or have a snack during your break. Whatever you do, make sure to step away from your workspace so your brain can shut off for a bit. Once you sit back down at your desk, you will feel recharged and ready to put your productive brain back to work.
10. Establish a Long-Term Goal
One of the best ways to learn how to stay focused when working from home is to establish a long-term goal. Instead of focusing on your day-to-day life, start planning ahead. Do you want to open a business? Work on the road? Save enough money to buy a house? Whatever your goal is, put it on display somewhere in your workspace as a daily reminder of what you’re working for every day. Working towards a goal can help you feel more productive because there’s a finish line in the distance.
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