Working from home can be pretty sweet—no long and lousy commutes. You can work around your preferred schedule. And, you don’t need to be concerned about distractions like talkative and sick co-workers.
At the same time, remote working does come with its own set of challenges. I’m talking about interruptions friends, family, neighbors, and pets, household chores, or lying on your comfy couch with the TV on. If you don’t keep these interferences in-check, then maintaining your focus is pretty much impossible. But, there are ways to remain focused and motivated when working from home.
Have a designated workspace.
No offense to your bedroom, kitchen table, or couch. But, none of these locations are exactly the best places to work. Take your cozy bed as an example. Working in bed creates a mental between work and rest. That means when you’re trying to drift off, your mind is thinking about work. What’s more, it can decrease the quality of your sleep since looking at a blue screen reduces melatonin.
But that’s not all. Having a dedicated workspace can help get in the zone when it’s time to focus on your work. More importantly, it removes distractions like household chores or binge-watching the latest streaming TV series.
If you don’t have the room for a home office, then experiment with various spots in your home. For example, your focus zone could be a hallway closet that you’ve made into a makeshift office. Or, you could get out of your home and work from a coworking spot of a coffee shop.
Stay off social media.
You don’t necessarily have to go to the extreme and permanently quit social media — unless that’s you’re provocative. But, you should, at the minimum, remove the apps from your home screen so that they don’t interfere with your focus. However, I would go a step further and delete the apps from your phone altogether. It’s easy to limit your usage since you have to log into your account.
To prevent anxiety from FOMO, you could also schedule specific times to check your accounts. I do this in the morning before work, after lunch, and before heading home for the day.
Yeah. I know. You may be thinking that this is much easier said than done. But, in reality, it’s not all that difficult.
Science-backed techniques to improve your self-motivation include:
- Getting positive. Sound difficult? You can start by monitoring you’re progress and celebrating it.
- Rewarding yourself. Speaking of rewards, you can treat yourself, like buying a latte or going out with friends, when you cross off an item on your to-do-list.
- Surrounding yourself with highly motivated people. Stop hanging out with those who drag you down and those you get stuff done.
Structure your day for success.
“Maximize the effectiveness of your time at home by structuring it differently than a typical workday,” suggests Elizabeth Grace Saunders in HBR. “For example, if you work from home only one day a week or on occasion, make it a meeting-free day.” Not an option? Then at least reserve half of your day for focused work. Just remember to pick “a time that works best for you, based on any required meetings and your energy levels.”
“Then define one to two key items that you want to accomplish during this time,” adds Elizabeth. “These could be tasks that require an hour or more of uninterrupted attention, or they could be items that simply require more creative, strategic thinking than you may be able to achieve in the office environment.”
“It’s also helpful to shut down your email during this period — or at least stay away from it for an hour at a time,” she says. “Alert any colleagues of times that you’ll be disconnected so that they won’t be surprised by a delayed response.”
Schedule “lazy” time.
“Don’t make the entire day about work. I know, it sounds counterintuitive,” writes Colleen Trinkaus. “But oftentimes regular remote workers find themselves letting work creep into evenings and weekends.”
You can’t fault them. Without being burdened by a commute, they’ll just dive into work earlier in the day. Or, they may keep working “later into the evening because they aren’t seeing their colleagues leave for the day.”
To avoid overworking, which will ultimately burn you out, “monitor your daily workload – and if you realize you’re putting in overtime, sprinkle in some free time throughout the day to do what you please.” Whether if that’s walking your dog or having lunch with a friend, you need these “breaks will help reset your mind and prevent burnout.”
Adjust your Sunday routine.
I have a ritual every Sunday. I prepare for the upcoming week. Sure. It may eat up a couple of hours. But, it’s been an effective way to ease my anxiety and keep me focused on my work throughout the week.
While you don’t have to follow exactly what I do, here are some ways that you can spend your Sundays:
- Do any household chores and errands.
- Review and organize your to-do-list and calendar.
- Layout your clothes and prep your meals.
- Attend to your wellbeing, like exercising and engaging in a little self-care.
- Change your mindset about Mondays. Instead of dreading the start of a new week, view it as full of opportunities.
Swap your to-to-do-list with a done list.
“There aren’t any scientific studies that specifically examine the impact of a “done” list in the workplace. However, Laura Vanderkam, author and time-management sorcerer, extrapolates from some existing research in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, writes Melissa Dahl over at The Cut.
Vanderkam has written “that research has consistently found that dieters who keep daily diaries tracking what they ate tend to lose more weight” The reason? It turns out that writing everything down “allows people to reflect on their food choices honestly, and to notice patterns and identify trends that they can then change, if necessary.” And, that concept can be applied to keeping your eyes on the prize.
“Plus, it’s a nice little pat-on-the-back — proof that even if you didn’t get everything on your ‘official’ to-do list done, you did make some progress on something,” adds Dahl. “Sometimes people get to the end of the day and haven’t tackled various priorities, because other stuff has come up, but you did something with your time,” Vanderkam told Science of Us, “Something changed in the world (hopefully!). So what was that? Often it was good stuff. Write it down. Share it with your team. Celebrate it. Just because it wasn’t on the list doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.”
Program daydreaming into your schedule.
You’ve probably been told numerous times that you shouldn’t waste your time daydreaming. But, if you did that, then you wouldn’t have chased your passion and become an entrepreneur.
With that said, you should make some time in your schedule to wander off and daydream. When you, it will help you relax your body and mind, inspire innovation, and unlocks our real purpose.
Pretend like you’re going somewhere else to work.
I’m not saying that you have to follow a traditional work schedule or play by the same rules. But, you should establish a routine that gets you into work mode. I’m talking about waking up at the same time daily and getting into your workspace at a specific time and not staying in your pajamas all day. And, setting-up separate email accounts so that you aren’t checking personal messages.
Match music with your tasks.
“Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive,” Deep Patel writes previously for Entrepreneur. “Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.”
“Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work,” adds Deep. “Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. And, there are “different types sync with our brain waves to induce ‘eureka moments.'”
So, what should you listen to? Research has found that classical, video game, cinematic, and anything between 50 to 80 beats per minute is ideal. You can also listen to the sounds of nature if you like.
Find your tribe.
I’m talking about your fellow entrepreneurs here. The reason? You can bounce ideas off each other, share advice, and help hold each other accountable. Besides, this gives you a chance to combat isolation and interact with people in-person. I suggest you check out local meetups, entrepreneurial organizations, and conferences.
Have a shutdown ritual.
“For many work-from-home entrepreneurs, work bleeds into all hours of the day (and night),” says Zach Obront, Co-Founder of Scribe Media. “Rather than leaving an office and leaving work behind, it’s always with you.”
“Counterintuitively, this leads to less productivity because you’re often half working,” adds Zach. “Creating a shutdown ritual for the end of the day allows you to focus deeply during work hours and recharge effectively the rest of the time.” Learn how to leave work at work.
Student at UC Berkeley, currently working on a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences and Business Administration. Experienced in CSX, productivity management, and chatbot implementation.