how to stay focused when you work from home

How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home

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Supervising yourself and staying focused is a MUST!

Simply put: working from home means trading in office distractions for home distractions. 

I mean, how can you stay focused when your kids or pets are bored, clamoring for your attention? What about when you get a notification that a streaming service just added a new episode or season your favorite show/podcast? 

woman looking at computer and trying to stay focused on her work

 Working from home has lots of advantages! Umm.. flexibility and zero commute? HELLO! Creating a system that keeps you focused and productive is crucial to making sure your work gets done.

To succeed at remote work, you will need to build your own structure and motivational systems/workflows. 

Here are some ideas for managing both internal and external distractions:

Internal Distractions

woman looking at her watch

Set Goals

Be as specific as possible!

Give yourself targets to strive for.

What do you want to accomplish today? This week? This month? This year?

Think about both your daily and long term goals. 

Schedule your day

  1. What time of day are you most productive/effective?
  2. What are your priorities for that time?

Devote most of your time and resources to the activities that create and add real value to your business.

Take breaks

By all means, if you’re in your zone, GO GET IT! If you’re feeling productive, keep on keepin’ on. 

Pay attention to what your body is telling you. The goal is to pause and relax BEFORE you start to feel fatigued or burnt out.

You’ll have the ability to accomplish so much more if you allow yourself some downtime as needed. 

Designate a workspace

Do you just need a corner or do you have a Spare Oom in the bright city of War Drobe you can utilize? <- Nerd joke. 

Carving out an area exclusively for work will help you keep your mind on your job.

Once you’re in your workspace, your brain will eventually recognize that. According to a study published in 2018, researchers deduced the brain has two distinct systems and one of them is “place recognition”.

An article on the NeuroScience News blog states “Entering a place and recognizing where you are — whether it’s a kitchen, a bedroom or a garden — occurs instantaneously and you can almost simultaneously make your way around it.” Cool, huh? Your brain will start to see your home office as your work space and act accordingly. 

-> You can read the rest of the article HERE if you are interested <- 

Reduce Discomfort

If you’re working remotely, you could try asking your employer for help to cover costs of equipment like headphones (to reduce neck strain during phone and video calls).

Arrange your workspace for maximum productivity. Keep things you always need within easy reach. The more time you spend having to look for something you need, the more likely it is you will get distracted by something else. 

Make sure your chair is comfortable enough. As someone with back issues, it is worth the investment to get a good desk chair. While it may be tempting to use your couch, remember what we said about “place recognition”? Keep that in mind 🙂 

Move around

Try taking a short walk, doing some stretching/yoga or jumping rope during a break.

Most people say do this during your lunch time, but for me, that’s actually more of a distraction because I’m on a time crunch.

Exercise reduces stress and restores your energy, so get moving! 

Think positive

You’re going to have to build your own morale.

What do you love most about what you do?

Remember: you have the opportunity to do meaningful work that not only expands your skillset, you get to help others!

Be sure to appreciate yourself and what you’re doing. 

Write and keep lists

Use paper and pen.

Download a free app.

There are so many ways to make a to-do list.

Remember: be realistic as you’re blocking your time.

Don’t set unattainable time goals for your tasks. 

External Distractions

woman carrying coffee mug and planner to a meeting

limit media (all of it)

Social media and streaming services will consume you if you let them. Blink and hours have just flown by. 

Your productivity is dependent on you eliminating these temptations.

Turn off those notifications.

Set time limits on sites you get lost on.

Just find a method that will work for you.

Your productivity will thank you! 

Set boundaries

When you work for yourself, your time becomes your currency and quite frankly, others need to respect that. 

Be clear what times you’re available for collaboration or consultation and when you’re unavailable.

Whether you just need to work without interruptions or you can only handle so much interaction in a day, it doesn’t matter. It’s your time so spend it as you see fit. 

Post your hours of operation if needed. You can add them to most of your social media channels and definitely post them to your website. 

For tasks that require maximum concentration, turn the volume down on your phone or any other distractions. 

Eat well

Your kitchen can be a major distraction. It’s tempting to linger over a meal or get distracted by snackies. 

Try to plan your daily menu in advance, complete with meals and snacks. I actually favor peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. It might not be the healthiest thing, but it’s simple and pretty much a no-brainer. 

Also: it’s easier to dial down the snacking when you feel full.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Fill your bottles in the morning and put them in the fridge for a quick grab. 

Listen to music

Here’s a tid-bit of info you may not know, all that background music you hear in stores, offices or even elevators comes from an outside company. One that has been used by several of my old jobs is Muzak

While Muzak can be great and you get to hear a ton of songs you haven’t heard in years, you have no control over it.. and they play the same music every single day. It feels like you’re listening to a tape on your Walkman (yup.. I just dated myself there). 

Working from home is your chance to control the soundtrack at work. In my home office, DJ Iced Coffee (me) spins the greats all day long. Whatever I need to hear, DJ Iced Coffee has my back. We go from inspirational to pop to rap, depending on the mood. 

Try this: create a variety of playlists to mask background noise or stimulate creative thinking. Give yourself a DJ moniker as well. Drop it in the comments on this post when you think of one 🙂

ask for support

Let’s face it: working from home can be lonely and isolating, as well as frustrating when you run into an issue that’s outside of your skillset.

While a trusty internet search could be of service in the moment, don’t be afraid to let your boss, coworkers, family, or friends (online and off) know when you need help.

Join an online group that will offer you support when you need it. Most are free. Always be willing to return the favor when you see that person who helped you through your struggle. 

Three groups I recommend: 

Faith Led Business Builders 

Unapologetic Entrepreneurs 

Female Christian Entrepreneur Community 

Interact with others

I added my fave groups in the section above. The women in these communities are extremely supportive and are ready to help. As we all know, it’s lonely working from home. Always know there is someone out there for you. 

Socializing is a valuable part of your workday too. Maybe you know it as another term – networking?

Either way, try to participate in virtual happy hours or collaborative meetings and be around to chat before/after video meetings/calls. If you appreciate someone’s answer on a webinar, reach out to them. Most chats have an option to reply directly. Utilize that to make connections. 

Arrange Childcare (if possible)

Trust me when I say: I understand how HARD this is! When you’re pregnant, everyone is all “I can’t wait to babysit!” when the reality is they all seem to be busy when you need them.

For some of us, finding childcare is extremely difficult as we work from home because we need the income and childcare is too expensive. I’ve perused those “find a sitter” sites and even teens want $15+ an hour to watch your kids. 

A suggestion: find a local group of work-at-home parents and see if you can trade some afternoon babysitting sessions.

Another suggestion: local high school students might need “community service” hours as part of a class or group requirement. Helping a local parent with childcare might be an acceptable cause. It can’t hurt to reach out to a guidance counselor to ask.  

Once you develop those communication and organizational systems you need to excel at working from home, you can be super productive and successful whether you’re sitting in a cubicle or out on your patio.

Stock Photos: 

Beach Babe 

Ivory Mix 

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