How to Stay Focused and Productive While Working from Home
By: Justin Carter
Whether you are working from home due to shelter in place orders, or you are a full-time telecommuter, staying focused and productive while working from home can present some interesting challenges. If you are not used to working from home, it can be difficult to stay focused and productive throughout your day. When you are not among the rest of your co-workers and team, sometimes a lack of collaboration and connection can be tricky to navigate.
Here are what some remote professionals have to say about staying focused and productive.
Establish working hours
“I’m a creature of habit, and though I could work from anywhere in the world, nothing beats routine. I run my errands in the morning, start my workday between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., and only work in my office space. I simply refuse to look at my work email once I’ve signed off for the day. Having a routine and boundaries helps keep me sharp and focused, and allows me to enjoy my evenings.”
—Katie Stearns, P.R. manager at BeeBole Timesheet, Spain
Write things down
“I make sure to write things down on paper when I’m working from home. When you are working remotely, you will probably spend much more time looking at a screen than when you are in an office. I find that my eyes need regular screen breaks. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction of scratching an item off of your list! Clicking a checkbox in your online calendar just can’t compete with that.”
—Lauren Brownstein, philanthropy consultant, Bethesda, MD
Tidy up first
“I find that my biggest distraction is when the space around me feels untidy. When I work from home, I tidy up as much as possible before bed and take a few minutes in the morning to finish any tidying. Then, I set out my tasks that need to be accomplished for the day and start working. I find this routine really helps my mind stay focused on my work instead of the ‘home things’ that need to get done.”
—Marianne D., virtual assistant, Burlington, ON, Canada
Change out of your pajamas
“I suggest getting dressed in workwear every day. No PJ’s while working from home! This helps shift your mindset from ‘I’m just going to lounge around on the couch today’” to ‘It’s time to crush all my goals today.’ This is actually a process I start the night before. I lay out my work clothes for the day ahead, which actually is an old habit from when I used to work in an office. It’s a time-saver in the morning, and it helps improve my focus for the entire day.”
—Caru Jones, leadership coach, New York, NY
Step outside to reset
“When working from home, I always try to leave my apartment for a short break just as I do at the office for a quick reset. Most often, I’ll run out and grab a coffee before my day starts, or pick up some lunch. Leaving my apartment and workspace for a brief period of time allows me to move my body, get some fresh air, and provides me with a mental reset so that I can ensure I am productive upon returning to my work.”
— Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO
These are just a few suggestions from experienced remote workers. There are many other suggestions like:
Taking a real lunch break.
Don’t get so caught up that you snack or deprive yourself of that needed separation from work.
Start your day with mindfulness.
This means that instead of waking up and going straight to the work emails that may be on your phone, take some time for you. Meditate, workout, etc.
Incorporate bursts of movement.
Try to work in some exercise of some sort. Anything from a walk around the block or a 10-minute exercise routine from YouTube. Get up, and move! It will help your mind focus.
Open the window.
The air inside can get stale, open up a window or a door, and let some fresh air in. I find this most beneficial in the morning hours. That cool brisk air helps to wake me up and focus.
Take little micro-breaks.
Just like you would in the office, get up and get a cup of coffee, stand outside for a bit and give you eyes a rest from staring at a screen. Stretch, don’t let yourself become physically stagnant.
Assign timeslots to your tasks.
Put order to your day. Set appointments, and schedule out the work. It will help you stay on task. If you cannot get it all done, that’s ok. Move that item to the following workday. This will help you stay on task and it will let your coworkers know if you are busy or not.
Schedule at least on-call or meeting.
This helps to keep anchor points throughout your day. It helps to create order through your day.
Notify your team about your priorities.
Communicate with your teams. Everyone will help keep each other accountable and on task.
Switch up your working space.
If you need to sit out on the back porch or the back yard on a swing, do it as long as you can be productive.
Having a well designed and maintained network at your office can help improve productivity, and help to minimize the frustration of your staff while working remotely. For a free network assessment, please contact us.
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