Working from home sounds great to most people. The thought of working from the comfort of your living room, the ability to stay in your pajamas all day, not having to worry about dealing with morning rush hour. It all sounds perfect. That is until you find yourself distracted by that new show on Netflix, the pile of laundry in your hamper, or your neighbor’s dog that won’t stop barking.
While working from home can sound like a dream come true, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, you could face more challenges than just the lack of toilet paper in stores. To help, here are our ten tips to stay focused while working from home.
1. Start Prepared
We are lucky to live in a time where we have the technological capabilities allowing us to telecommute. Between lightning-fast computers, high-speed internet, and virtual chat, working remotely is now easier than ever. But, before you make the digital switch, it is important to ask your employer for anything you may need in order to make your transition successful. Do you need a laptop, access to servers, extra monitors or hard drives? You want to have all the tools you need so you can remain productive outside of the office.
2. Maintain Your Regular Hours
When working from home it can be easy for the hours to fly by, feeling like mere minutes. Maybe you want to catch some extra z’s in the morning or go on a long run before it gets too dark. While it is okay to adjust your hours a little (depending on your employer of course), it is important that you do not let the time slip away too much. Although you are at home, it is still important to work the same number of hours as you would in the office. If you need, adjust your time by an hour or so, but maintain your regular work hours to align with your team members, and to keep you in the working mindset. Following your work routine will help you to stay on task and be more productive.
3. Set A Morning Routine
What is the first thing you do in the morning? Maybe you walk your dog, or take a shower, or have a nice hot cup of coffee. Whatever your morning routine is before you go to work, should remain the same when you are working from home. Changing up your routine too much can cause your mind to shift off focus. Try your best to stick to your usual routine.
4. Pick A Dedicated Workspace
One of the things that you really want to avoid when working from home is “working from bed” or lounging on the couch. While it is important to create a comfortable working space when you are home, it is also imperative that the space helps increase your focus. Try to avoid getting too comfortable on the couch, and instead set up a small desk with a comfortable chair to help “set the mood.”
5. Avoid Social Media
Unless social media is a part of your job, it is best to avoid it when you are on the clock. Social media has a way of distracting workflow and eating up time. Instead, wait until it is time to clock out to catch up with your friends.
6. Outline Your Schedule
Write down a to-do list for the day and keep it next to your computer, or at your workspace. By keeping a physical list within eye distance, it allows you to stay focused on the task at hand. Check-in with your team and then outline a realistic schedule, checking it off as you go. Not only do you feel more organized, but you feel accomplished.
7. Add Some Background Noise
While working from home does give most people the peace and quiet they need to focus on projects, for some the home atmosphere can be a little too quiet (especially if you live alone). A way to combat the silence is by adding a little ambient noise in the background. Whether that is playing a classical music CD, a pop playlist on Spotify, or even turning on Friends for background noise, having sound playing can help increase focus and keep you productive throughout the day. Just make sure that if you turn on a show or a movie in the background, that it is something you have seen before.
8. Leave Home
Just like in the office, making time for breaks allows your brain a chance to reset and recharge. The same goes when you work from home. Take your lunch break, get out of the house, and breathe in the fresh air. You could use your hour lunch to go for a walk or a run, play fetch with your dog, or take your kids for a quick trip to the park.
9. Create Boundaries with Housemates
Nothing can be more distracting than the constant interruptions by your roommates or, really anyone that lives in your house. Before you even start working from home, communicate that there should be boundaries implemented so you can get your work done. Ask for “quiet time” between certain hours of the day, or perhaps find a private room in the house where you can focus. Be polite, but stern, because even though you are working remotely you still need to get your job done.
10. Socialize After Clocking Out
It can feel isolating when working remotely. The lack of “cooler talk” with your coworkers or general lack of face-to-face communication can make a person feel down or lonely. An easy way to avoid the isolation feeling is to connect with your friends or family via video chat or on social media. Even though the coronavirus is forcing us to practice “social distancing,” it does not mean that we cannot still connect to the people we love in other ways.