Working from home is an entirely different experience from working in an office, for better or for worse. Some people thrive when working from home, as they feel more comfortable and can be more productive. Other people struggle to find their footing when trying remote work for the first time, which is understandable for such a significant workplace adjustment. You need to know which type of person you are — but you can learn how to have success either with in-office work or if you determine you will work from home.
One of the biggest struggles with remote work is staying focused. If you’re working in your pajamas and constantly meandering to the kitchen, losing focus is almost a given. In order to do remote work, you have to show discipline. This won’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to become more effective at working from home.
Everyone who sets their mind to it can become an effective remote worker. The following guide will help you stay focused while working from home so you can be as productive as possible while still taking advantage of your remote environment:
1. Eliminate Distractions
If you’re working remotely, distractions can be found all around you. You might be distracted by a messy home office, the sound of a neighbor, or your roommate watching television in the other room. In order to stay focused, you need to eliminate these distractions as best as possible.
Look for ways to keep those distractions at bay. For example, if noises easily distract you, consider getting yourself some noise-canceling headphones. Playing soft music or white noise through these headphones can help you focus on your work while also blocking out any additional noise you might hear.
Other distractions might require a more hands-on approach. Take measures to keep your office space organized, so clutter doesn’t become a consistent distraction. Find ways to keep yourself off of social media while you work, as that is one of the most prominent distractions remote workers face today. The fewer distractions you have to deal with, the easier it will be to keep focused.
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2. Stay Properly Nourished
When you’re feeling hungry or thirsty, you’re more likely to succumb to distractions and lose focus. By staying properly nourished throughout the day, you’ll find it easier to stay focused. This includes eating balanced meals and staying sufficiently hydrated.
The first thing you should do is have a water bottle on your desk. Make it a point to make a drink a few times every hour. Proper hydration is a huge part of staying focused and engaged on tasks and projects.
Having easy access to your own kitchen makes it easy to stay nourished. However, it also adds new temptations you’ll have to work around. You can easily find yourself eating a bunch of junk food when you’re feeling peckish throughout the day. If you struggle with this, try meal planning or following other measures that help you control your eating.
3. Follow a Good Routine
A good routine can help you remain disciplined, even on days when finding motivation at home is difficult. When commuting to the office, it’s typically easier to follow a routine. You get up at the same time each morning and go through standard motions to make it to work on time. When working from home, there’s a lot more flexibility, and you need to use it wisely.
Start by working on your sleep routine. If you don’t have a specific time you have to begin working for the day, you can get into a bad habit of sleeping in and wasting a good portion of the day. If you’re able to discipline yourself to get to bed at a decent hour each night, you can get all the sleep you need without beginning work at lunchtime.
Other activities you can and should incorporate into your routine include exercise, meal times, social events, and personal time. One reason people struggle to work from home is usually due to a lack of strategy or structure. These activities are all beneficial, and if you build a routine around them, you’ll be able to create the proper time needed.
4. Take Breaks
Something you should consider adding to your daily work routine is a break. When working from home, you might feel pressured to work long hours to prove you’re being productive even though you’re not in an office. While it’s important to work hard, you shouldn’t run yourself ragged.
Taking breaks throughout the day can actually make you more productive. A short step back from your work is good for your mental health and prolongs your overall energy throughout the day. A small break can also help you readjust your strategy when dealing with a frustrating project.
The danger with taking breaks is taking off more time than necessary. With no one directly supervising you, taking an hour and a half for lunch is easy to get away with. Make sure you’re getting the breaks you need without throwing productivity completely out the window.
5. Try a Time Management Method
There are time management methods and techniques that have been developed specifically to help people be more productive. These methods can be followed in an office or at home and be just as effective. The right time management strategy may really come in handy as you’re transitioning to remote work.
A popular and effective technique is the Pomodoro technique. What you do is set a timer, usually set for an hour, and work as hard as you can for that duration of time. Once that hour is up, you set a shorter 10-15 minute time to take a break. You cycle through this process until you finish the task at hand or get to the end of the work day.
This method motivates you to work hard in short bursts in anticipation of a coming break. There are other methods you can look into, such as time blocking and the Eisenhower matrix, that may work better for you. You just need to give each of them an honest shot to see what fits best.
6. Dress for Success
Those sweatpants are admittedly comfortable and shockingly stylish, but they might not be the best attire for working from home. Clothing items such as pajamas and sweatpants might inadvertently cause you to lose focus throughout a long day of work. Because your mind typically associates these clothing articles with comfort and relaxation, your focus may start to slip while wearing them.
This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie just to log into your home computer. All this suggests is that you begin your day like you’re getting ready for an ordinary day of work. Get showered, eat breakfast, and put on clothes you wouldn’t mind being seen out in public with. By doing so, you’ll get your mind and body in the mindset of a productive day.
If you work better while wearing yoga pants, then more power to you. Just keep in mind that in order to keep your focus and be successful with remote work, you might have to make a few sacrifices. This might include putting on a pair of jeans or slacks every once in a while.
Remote work is likely to continue evolving and spreading throughout the workforce. The better you can at maintaining your focus while working from home now, the better you will do in any future roles that have you working remotely. That experience may really come in handy when you’re due for a promotion into a position of trust that works from home or travels frequently.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by RODNAE Productions; Pexels; Thank you!