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How to Stay Focused While Working from Home

Working From Home? Here’s How to Stay Focused

Working from home is the best!  What’s not to love? You don’t have distractions such as coworkers interrupting your train of thought AND your commute is the trip down your stairs.  You have a full kitchen for lunch and you can be a little more flexible with your time. What is not to love?

However, there are unique challenges to working from home.  You may not have distractions from your colleagues, but you do have distractions.  Maybe it is your dog, cat or baby.  Maybe it is the pile of laundry that you can see from the corner of your eye.  Maybe it’s just too easy to give in to the temptation to sneak on Facebook for five minutes…or ten…or an hour…

So, how can you stay focused while working from home?  Here are three main ways:

1.  SET BOUNDARIES WHEN WORKING FROM HOME

It is all too easy to have your home life and work life blend when it is all happening in the same place.  Therefore, it is vital that you set boundaries to keep you focused while working at home.  How can you do that, in a practical sense?

HAVE A DESIGNATED WORKSPACE – Could you work in bed with your laptop? Sure!  Should you? No, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, your mind is not in a “work-mode” and you will not stay focused.  It will be all too easy to take a few minutes to fold some laundry…and maybe get dinner started…plus that carpet could really use a vacuum…

Secondly, it’s not a great idea ergonomically.  Especially if you are working at a computer, you are going to want something that is going to offer you the proper back support.  Your joints will thank you. 

Thirdly, it sends a message to your husband, wife, children and even the dog that you are at work.  Just because you are at home, does not mean that you are “at home”.   These boundaries will put yourself in a state of mind to be productive, meaning you can stay focussed while working from home. 

You do not have to have a large amount of space.  My office is a nook in our bedroom and it works perfectly fine.  It just needs to be designated for work and work alone.

STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA – Whether you can do it with your own willpower, or with an app like StayFocusd, limit the amount of time that you spend on social media.  A quick scroll through Instagram to see your cousin’s new baby can very quickly turn into a serious amount of time.

Of course, this is even more difficult and requires more discipline if your job involves social media.  In that instance, you will really need to set boundaries and stay off personal social media. 

2.  BE PROFESSIONAL AT HOME

You may be at home but you are still at work.  Act like your boss is there too!  How to do that?

GET DRESSED – Again, this is a psychological thing.  While you could work in your sweats (or in nothing at all), you are much more professional and productive when you look the part.

BE ACCOUNTABLE –Tell yourself what you want to accomplish that day and set a schedule on how you plan on doing it.  I am also a big proponent of list writing.  There is something deeply satisfying about checking things off as they are completed.  It also creates accountability when you are the only one to create accountability. These deadlines will create a work environment even when working from home.

3.  BE REASONABLE WHEN WORKING FROM HOME

Because the lines between work and home tend to blend, you really need to be reasonable in the amount of work you are doing and when you plan on doing it.

TAKE BREAKS – While that may seem counterproductive, you actually work better when you take regular, scheduled breaks.  The general rule is a 8-minute break for every 52 minutes of work but do what works for you.

DO NOT OVER DO IT –Experts recommend pacing yourself – a good goal is to set one large task, three medium tasks and five small tasks. 

SET AN END TIME – Set a reasonable end time when your work day will end, otherwise it never will! (Of course, if you are an employee, set that time with your employer).  Too much blurring between home and working from home has too often led to burnout. 

Working from home is a beautiful privilege that technology affords us. Now you are prepared and ready to stay focused while working from home!

MELANIE ZILTENER is a virtual assistant who specializes in helping small businesses tackle all sorts of tasks. When she’s not helping small businesses, she can usually be found gardening or playing with her two-year old son. Find out more at www.melanieziltener.com.

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