Maximizing Productivity: How To Stay Focused While Working From Home
Working from home is no longer a thing associated with lazy individuals and is a more common practice, especially after the pandemic.
So, how do these work-from-home individuals stay focused?
Well, I’m not an expert but I have been mostly working from home for years and there are benefits to it for sure as well as some downsides if you aren’t careful. Before I give my own advice on how to stay successful working from home, here is what Harvard Business Review recommends.
Keep A Schedule
Yes, it might seem like working from home means waking up, lazying about, and slowly making your way to your work computer. If you’re doing it right, that is not the case. Ned Hallowell, author of the forthcoming Driven to Distraction at Work says this practice allows for workers to stay motivated and adds structure to the day.
Do what you usually would when going into an office such as getting dressed, waking up early to prepare, and avoiding online distractions. These steps help maintain the routine and allow you to get into “work mode”.
When working at home, there is a blurring of lines that comes with it. If you don’t set distinct boundaries between work and home life, your house may start to feel like a prison.
“Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel you’re always at work and lose a place to come home to.”—Howell
This means working in a separate space from your bedroom or living room if you are able. You’ll also want to make sure your friends and family understand that during work hours you will be unavailable.
When you’re off work, be off work. It's easy for others to ask you to do things later in the day or evening because you work from home and it's easy to just open the work computer. DON’T DO THAT!
Also, schedule or make time for your friends and family. If you get off work at 5 p.m. then dedicate that to non-work activities. Have dinner, go grab coffee, go on walks, whatever you want but make sure the boundaries are there.
Though the stigma of being unproductive working from home has eased out over the years, there is still the urge to prove that you are actually productive. You may even feel that you need to prove you’re better at work than others in the office (in an unhealthy way). That means working longer hours, powering through projects, and not taking breaks.
That’s a bad thing and your work from home can be just as valuable if not more than working in an office. It’s good to be competitive but not at the expense of your physical and mental health, in the office or not.
Take breaks throughout the day. When you finish a task go for a walk, play with your dog, read for a bit, or watch part of a show. Staring at your work computer gets tiring and can add more stress than necessary if you don’t take a break. It’s okay to not look "on" 24/7 because you’re human and your brain needs a reset to ultimately be more productive at work.
Keep in Touch
One of the challenges of working from home is becoming isolated. You do your work, maybe a few meetings but overall, you are on your own. So, staying in contact with coworkers and bosses is sometimes difficult and the last thing on your mind most days.
Being isolated also lowers productivity and motivation plus, you may start to go a little psycho. So, make a point to grab lunch or coffee with coworkers. It's also good to regularly check in with superiors and colleagues for projects.
When working from home it can be easy to not feel “seen” for your accomplishments. Staying connected helps with this a lot. You can be proud of yourself for finishing a project early or staying off social media, it doesn’t need to be huge. A win is a win.
Alright, now that Harvard has given some great advice, here are my hacks for working from home.
- Keep your space clean! This sounds like a no, duh but working from home is just as exhausting and there are work papers and materials to clean up along with regular house things. It helps keep the anxiety down and allows you to work in a clean space. It keeps your mind uncluttered too.
- Don’t turn on a show in the background. If you don’t like the silence, I totally get that. Music is great but I highly recommend finding some ASMR sound videos that are a few hours long to help. I use YouTube and find rain/storm sound videos to help keep me concentrated. It’s relaxing and helps with a stressful workday.
- Try finding regular mealtimes. I am one of those people who forgets to eat on busy days and scheduling it out helps a lot. Also, keep snacks nearby to remind yourself to eat. Your brain and body will thank you later.
- Go outside a few times a day, especially if you work on a computer all day. The eye strain and lack of mobility can create a brain block and that’s not great for productivity.
- Breathe. It sounds simple but taking a break for a short meditation is super helpful and can allow your mind to do the reset it needs.
- Limit distractions by turning off unnecessary notifications on your phone. Turn on your “focus” if you have an iPhone and make it for work contacts only. That way you won’t be disturbed by Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media pop ups.
- Lastly, do whatever is best for you. Just because you work from home does not mean you shouldn’t take time off or sick days. I have an awful habit of not taking time off, but I always come back better when I do.
I’d love to hear your work-from-home hacks. Message me on our FB!
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