How to Stay Focused When You Work from Home


Are you dealing with new challenges now that you work remotely? COVID-19 changed the way people work with a lot more remote work happening.

Before 2020, about 20% of people worked from home. As of October of 2020, 71% of people worked from home.

Whether you’re new to the work at home life or you’ve been doing it for a while, figuring out how to stay focused can be a challenge. Removing distractions and setting boundaries can help.

Keep reading for more tips on staying focused while you work from home.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

You can work from your laptop on your sofa or even lie in bed and crank out emails, but having a dedicated workspace and using it regularly helps you stay focused. The ideal setup is having a separate room for your home office, but that’s not possible in all homes.

Setting up a work station in a section of another room can work. Choose the area with the least amount of distractions where you can work quietly.

If you’re using your home’s wi-fi, proximity to your router is a consideration. A home office on the opposite end of the house might not receive a strong enough signal, which can make your internet connection spotty or slow.

Within that space, set up your desk and other necessary work areas to maximize space and keep you focused. Consider the activities you need to do and how you can best set up your space to accommodate those activities.

Have the Right Tools Available

When you work from home, you don’t have access to shared office equipment, such as printers and copiers. You also need a desktop computer or laptop that’s powerful enough to handle your workload. This article from Lenovo touches on ideal laptop requirements when you work from home.

Make sure you have all of the tools you need readily accessible in your work space. Start with what you have, and decide if your current home equipment is enough to handle the workload. You might need to upgrade some of your equipment or add pieces that you don’t already have.

When you have key work tools in place, you can work efficiently with fewer interruptions. You don’t have to go to a print shop to pick up copies of documents you need, for example. Instead, you can simply print them at home with your printer.

Remove Distractions in Your Environment

Sit down in your home office and look around for distractions. Do you find yourself staring out the window and watching people outside? Reposition your desk so you don’t have an easy view out the window.

Maybe your office is in the living room right in view of the TV, so you’re tempted to turn on your favorite shows. You might need to relocate your office or turn the desk to avoid the TV temptation.

Lots of clutter can also be a distraction. If it bugs you, you might find it difficult to focus on your work tasks.

Everyone is different in what they find distracting. Notice what draws your attention away from work, and find ways to remove or overcome those distractions.

Block Electronic Distractions

When you’re home and not in an office, it’s easy to sneak in a little more time scrolling Facebook or visiting websites you wouldn’t normally visit. Reduce those electronic distractions to increase your work productivity.

Many extensions and apps can block certain websites during a set period to keep you from mindlessly navigating to them. They can limit your time doing certain activities to help you spend more time on work.

Another strategy is to silence your phone or turn off notifications during your work at home time. It’s natural to reach for your phone whenever you hear a sound or see a notification across the screen. Checking that one notification breaks your work flow and could suck you into more activities on your phone.

Dress the Part

No one is there to enforce a dress code when you’re working from home, but avoid the temptation to work in your favorite pajama pants and bunny slippers. How you get ready for the day can affect your mindset, which can make or break your productivity.

If you’re in loungewear, you might feel less focused and a lot less business-like. If you dress up for work, even if it’s a little more casual than you might wear to the office, you’re shifting your brain into work mode. It helps you differentiate between relaxation time and work time when everything is happening at home.

It’s a simple psychological trick that can help you get more out of your work day. Plus, you won’t get caught slacking if you have an unexpected video call for work.

Stick to Your Schedule

Schedule your worktime each day, even if you have flexibility in your work from home schedule. A schedule makes your work time more structured, just like it would be in an office environment. Establish your working hours for each day, and stick to the schedule.

When you’re at home, it’s tempting to squeeze in a few chores during your work day. Whether it’s dirty dishes, laundry, or general tidying, those cleaning tasks can distract you and interrupt your work flow.

If possible, work from a location in your home where you can’t see those messes. Establish a cleaning routine that gives you time outside of your work schedule to tackle those tasks, so they aren’t constantly looming while you’re trying to work.

If you tend to get distracted, whether with messes, media, or other distractions, set timers. Decide how long you want to take away from work, and use your phone to set a timer for that amount of time. When the timer rings, stop those extra activities and go back to work.

Give Yourself Breaks

You might think you’ll get more done if you push through your work day without breaks. But research shows that you’ll likely perform better if you give yourself breaks.

If you focus your attention on a task for too long, it can wear you out and hurt your performance. Even a short break gives your brain a rest and might help you focus better when you get back to your task. You’ll likely be more productive, remember more information, and feel better.

Decide on regular break times during your normal work at home schedule. You might take a longer morning, afternoon, and lunch break, or perhaps you prefer shorter breaks more frequently throughout the day.

Experiment with different break options. Then, stick with the one that works best for you. Schedule the breaks into your work day calendar if you need to so you remember to take them.

Stay Active

During your work breaks, don’t just sit around, especially if you sit all day for your job. Getting active during breaks can help boost your energy levels and refresh your mind.

When you’re at home, you have lots of activity options. You can take a walk around the block to get fresh air, or jump on that exercise equipment in the basement that doesn’t get much use. You can even pop in an exercise video or turn on a quick YouTube workout.

Have a Daily Agenda

Knowing what you need to accomplish can help you stay on track and meet your work goals. Determine what you need to get done with quantifiable goals for each one.

The way you set your agenda or plan your activities for the day depends on how you work best. A checklist with the different tasks you need to complete is often a motivational tool to help you keep track of your work for the day. You might also pencil in each task on your calendar for the day to set time limits on each task.

Set Boundaries With Others

When you work from home, your friends or family might take that as an invitation to chat or spend time with you. They might assume you can join them for an extended lunch, or they might ask you to help them with something during the workday.

Even if your remote work is flexible, allowing others to change the work schedule you’ve established can hurt your productivity and cause frustration. Decide on your boundaries and rules for how you use your work time.

Then, express those rules and boundaries to others, especially those who frequently interrupt your work time. For your immediate family or roommates, tell them when you’ll be working, and ask that they respect those work times. Set rules for when it’s okay to interrupt you.

For friends or extended family members who don’t live with you, simply explain to them that you have dedicated work time. Let them know that it’s your job, and you can’t take time away without notice.

Stick to those boundaries once you establish them. If you give in once, that person will likely expect you to continue making exceptions for them.

Stay Focused When Working From Home

Being able to stay focused when you work from home can be a challenge. Your home is comfortable to you and is full of distractions. Minimizing those distractions and treating your day as if you’re going into the office can help.

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