How To Stay Focused When Working At Home: 8+1 Hacks To Boost Your Productivity

If working from home is new to you, it can take a long while to get used to it. There are just so many distractions – social media, cellphone, kids, your partner, even friends, and family.

It’s tough getting into the right headspace for work. After all, your surroundings are more designed for relaxation, and there are so many other things you could be doing… The breakfast dishes, that wall that needs painting, the squeaky door that wants oiling, that shelf that needs putting up – arrrgggh!

How will you ever get any work done? Don’t worry, I’m here to help you figure out, just how to stay focused when working at home. It doesn’t really matter what kind of work you have to do or who you are working for – whether you are working at home as an employee or working on your own projects! These 8 + 1 Tips will work in any work-from-home-situation!

Tip #1: A “Dedicated” Home Office

To start, you’ll need to set up the right working environment – sitting on the couch with your laptop just isn’t going to cut it. Before any time has passed, temptation has a nasty way of getting the better of you, and the demon TV will win you over.

If you don’t already have a home office, create one. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just the corner of a quiet room, where no-one will disturb you.

having a dedicated working area where nobody will disturb you is a key element to stay focused
Having a dedicated working area where nobody will disturb you is a key element to stay focused when working at home…

There’s no need for expensive office furniture, just a good size table, where you can spread yourself out, and a comfortable work chair. To preserve your back, I do recommend using a proper office-type chair, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on it.

Figure out what equipment you can’t live without, generally some form of computer and possibly a printer, paper, pens, etc.

Make sure that if you need an internet connection, that the location you’ve chosen is suitable to get one. For instance, you may decide to set up a home office in a shed in your yard, but if you can’t access WIFI, it won’t be suitable. You also may find it’s freezing cold in winter and boiling in summer!

Tip #2: Setting Boundaries

Going to an office, away from your house, gives you an automatic set of boundaries. Usually, you’re expected to be there at a particular start time and go home at the end of your working day. This all becomes a lot more fluid when working from home and has both advantages and disadvantages.

get used to plan your working time ahead with a calendar
Get used to planning your working time ahead with a calendar…

If you really need to visit your dentist at three in the afternoon, you can. But be aware that bad habits develop quickly, and the temptation to do anything other than work can soon become a problem.

The best way of avoiding such issues is to set firm boundaries. Decide precisely what time you intend to start and finish work each day. What time you’ll have breaks and eat lunch. Be organized and plan every week ahead.

Get yourself a diary system, such as Google Calendar or Apple’s iCloud Calendar. Of course, there’s also the old-fashioned paper kind too. Take the time to plan out all of your work ahead. Make sure you put any non-work-related activities into your diary too, for easy reference and planning.

The more organized you become, the fewer problems you’ll have. If you don’t have a proper working schedule, it’s very easy to forget things. So be proactive! Try out some time management apps to help you stay in control. I suggest (and personally use) Trello, but there are plenty of other options available too.

Tip #3: To-Do Lists

An additional way to ensure you don’t miss anything important is to keep to-do lists. There are dozens of mobile apps to help with this. A good free one that I like to use a lot is Microsoft To Do or again, you could use a paper-based system.

Be sure to prioritize the most important things first and if possible, give them a start and finish time. This will help prevent you from procrastinating and encourage you to get on with the work.

It feels good if your to-do list is all checked off by the end of the day. It keeps you focused and in control.

Tip #4: Stopping Procrastination – How to Stay Focused When Working at Home

I mentioned procrastination above; unfortunately, this is very easy to slip into when you’re working at home. Making endless cups of coffee, eating countless unnecessary snacks, or increasing your smoking habit from 5 to 50 a day. You might find yourself continually looking at your phone, the internet, or social media.

there is no better productivity killer than procrastination
There is no “better” productivity killer than distraction and procrastination…

Even looking at or answering emails unnecessarily can lose valuable hours. So how can you stop this? How can you stay focused when working at home?

  1. Be disciplined. Set into your schedule times to do everything.
  2. Give yourself 30 minutes to check your email and social media while you drink your morning cup of coffee.
  3. Scheduled a morning and an afternoon break of 15 minutes. Use it to stretch your legs, take the dog for a walk, or get a drink.
  4. Ensure your allotted lunch hour remains just that and doesn’t end up being a three-hour session on the Xbox.
  5. Switch off all notifications. Nothing is more likely to distract you than some popup appearing on your laptop or a ping sound coming from your phone. By nature, we want to look at them and find out what they’re about. To prevent this, there’s only one course of action – turn them off.

Tip #5: Set Working Hours

It could be that although you’re used to working in the office from 9 to 5 that you’re really more of a late riser and could work more effectively from 11 till 7. Unless you’re contracted to work specific hours, there’s no reason why you can’t adjust your working day to better suit you, so long as you put in the time you’re meant to.

Many people find they can be even more productive at home and don’t need to work so many hours. Alternatively, you may find working longer works best, so you can have more days off. Go with what’s good for you.

Tip #6: Take Breaks

We’ve already dealt with the main mid-morning, lunchtime, and afternoon breaks. These should be the longest of the day. However, you will probably require additional shorter breaks too. It is suggested that we should break every hour and a half. Although this may be possible for some people, for others, it causes too much disturbance to their workflow.

The best way to deal with additional breaks is to take them as necessary. If you find yourself losing concentration, getting stiff or uncomfortable, needing to visit the bathroom, or wanting a glass of water, do it. Take a few minutes, move around and reset.

Sitting at your desk for extended periods is bad for your body and your mind, so make sure whenever you take a break that you move around, stretch and breathe deeply. Then you’ll be ready to start work again.

Tip #7: Have A Meal Plan

Have A Meal Plan When Working At Home
Having a meal plan when working at home is critical for your health and your productivity…

As I mentioned earlier, snacking can become a problem. So too can eating unhealthy meals. Once you’ve been working all day, it can seem like too much effort to prepare something healthy and nutritious. The best way to get around this is to plan in advance.

You can use meal apps, like Mealime or meal planning books to help you with this. Just ensure you have all the ingredients to hand and try cooking in batches and freezing the food in advance. To assist with snacking, prepare all your snacks for the day before you start work and put them in the fridge.

A good meal planning cookbook is The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, available from Amazon.

Tip #8: Good Sleep Is Important

to produce good quality work, you need to have enough rest
To produce good quality work, you need to have enough rest…

Getting enough sleep is just as important when you work from home, as it is when you go to the office. Don’t think you can burn the candle at both ends just because you’re in your own house.

Bonus-Tip: Workout Every Now And Then

This may sound obvious, but I’m going to put it out there anyway: Make sure to have a healthy workout every other day and get some fresh air.

From personal experience, I know how daunting it can be to squeeze every single minute of spare time into making progress with your working-at-home efforts. Getting that project finished, writing that blog article, finish just this one video.

However, do not forget to stay physically fit. Go out and run for 30 minutes, ride your bike or just take a walk. It will help you to reduce stress and find your balance! It’s important, trust me! Make sure to set aside some time for yourself in your busy schedule!!!

work out to keep the balance
Work out every other day to keep the balance…

Conclusion

If your work-from-home situation will be long term, you can set up a more luxurious and permanent office space over time. To begin with, only the basics are needed to get you going.

Do everything you can to avoid distractions. Pay attention to what does distract you, and think about how you can prevent it.

Inevitably you will have moments when you lose focus. Don’t worry too much, and get yourself re-focused and back on track as soon as you can. If you find you’re struggling with your workload, then talk to your employer or think about outsourcing individual tasks in case you are self-employed. If you’re a freelancer, think about structuring your time more productively to stay on top of deadlines.

It takes time to adjust and learn how to stay focused when working at home. You’ll soon get into your own routine, and that really is the key, creating a way that works for you.

Finally, embrace it! Feel lucky that you no longer have to face the tedious chore of a daily commute to the office. Enjoy the freedom of working at home!

Let’s Have A Discussion

Finally, if you have anything to add to the story above, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. What works for you, what doesn’t? What turned out to be a productivity game-changer for you? Also, if you know anyone who just started working from home (or is planning to do so), and would like to read this article, please share it with them. As always: Sharing is caring 🙂

All the best,

Chris

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