Working from home has so many advantages but it also brings with it some challenges.
Remote work is great because it allows you to work where you feel most comfortable. But sometimes it can also be difficult to focus and get stuff done when you’re not physically present.
The biggest challenge for many people who work from home is maintaining their focus and being productive.
With all the potential distractions, the under-the-radar, not-so-obvious challenges, and the lack of a traditional office space, it can be way too easy to lose sight of what matters.
In this post, as someone who’s been doing the work from home thing for a very long time, I’ll share with you my best tips on how I’ve not only been able to survive but thrive in the new working from home life, to ensure you can stay focused and productive and produce your best work.
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How to stay focused and productive when working from home
Working from home has its perks, but it also comes with challenges. In fact, many people find themselves distracted and unfocused while working remotely.
It doesn’t matter where you work from home as long as you get the job done. But how do you make sure you stay focused and productive when you’re not sitting behind a desk at a traditional office?
1. Create a daily list with a “top 3”
Sometimes working from home can be a bit of a struggle when it comes to maintaining focus and productivity.
For one thing, there are all sorts of distractions just waiting to lure us off task, from the comfort of our own couch to the never-ending temptations of the fridge.
But there are some simple strategies that can help to keep us on track. First, it’s important to keep a running list of your tasks you need to do, review that list at the beginning of each day and to prioritize our tasks. That way, we can stay focused on the most important items on our list and not get sidetracked by lesser priorities.
Part of that list should be your daily “top 3” items.
This is something I learned a few years back from Michael Hyatt and it’s been revolutionary in helping me keep the right things in front of me and to make measurable meaningful progress on my projects and get big things done faster.
Your daily top 3 are the items that you must complete each day before signing off for the day, no matter what.
It’s also helpful to set deadlines for ourselves, even if they’re just internal deadlines.
2. Create a dedicated home office work space
If you’re working from home and you don’t already have a dedicated work space or home office, what are you doing?
The importance of having a dedicated work space cannot be overstated. Just like working in a traditional office, working in a home office will help you to stay focused and more productive.
Having a home office will help you to mentally transition into work mode and avoid getting distracted by household tasks.
Setting up at the kitchen table can be good for a change of scenery occasionally, but it’s not a permanent solution.
When you’re working in a shared space, it’s easy to get distracted by things that are going on around you. But when you have your own dedicated work space, it’s much easier to tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand.
Plus, having a home office will help to keep you organized and will make it easier to find the things you need when you need them.
So if you don’t have a home office, set one up as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a designated space in your home where you can go to work and focus on your work without distractions.
Whether it’s a spare room or a corner of the kitchen, having a designated area for work can help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by other activities.
3. Establish set working hours
If you’re struggling with being focused while you’re working from home, establishing your working hours can be a big help.
It can be tempting to work around the clock when you’re your own boss, but that’s not sustainable in the long run. Instead, try to set regular working hours and stick to them as best you can.
This will help you to stay focused during working hours and avoid getting distracted by other activities.
It will also help to establish some structure and routine in your day, which can be helpful in maintaining focus.
If it’s helpful you can treat your at-home job like a traditional 9-to-5, and you’ll be more likely to stay focused and get things done.
4. Structure your day
Routines and daily rituals can be instrumental to helping you stay focused.
For many people, the appeal of working from home is the freedom to create their own schedules.
However, this can often lead to a loss of focus and productivity. One way to combat this is to establish a daily routine or ritual.
This might involve setting a specific time to start work each day, taking regular breaks, and setting aside time for exercise or leisure activities.
By creating a schedule and stick to it, you can help yourself stay focused and productive when working from home.
Remember to take advantage of apps and tools like calendar reminders and task lists to stay organized and on track.
5. Limit social media consumption
One of the biggest challenges can come from the very things you’re using to do your job when you’re working from home.
And by that I mean your mobile phone and your laptop.
It’s really easy to open up Instagram – sometimes you may do it without even knowing it!
But it can be a real drain on your focus and energy, so limiting your media social consumption is never a bad idea.
If you immediately get a feeling of push-back when you read this, then it could be a sign that there is too much social media in your life already, so creating some space for yourself may be a really good idea.
When you’re trying to stay focused, it’s important to be aware of the things that can distract you.
And for many people, social media is a big distraction. If you find yourself too easily getting pulled into swiping through your phone and your favorite social media platform, try setting some limits for yourself.
You can start by setting a specific time limit for social media use each day, or you can try to be more intentional about when and how you use social media.
For example, you might only allow yourself to check social media after you’ve completed a certain task or after you take a break.
Once you’ve accomplished your goal, you can allow yourself a little break.
6. Use timers and productivity apps
If you’re having trouble sticking to set working hours, try setting a timer for yourself or using a productivity tracking app to help you stay on track.
Using a timer can be an essential tool for staying focused and productive when working from home.
It can be used to break down your work into manageable chunks, and it can also help you to keep track of your progress.
The most popular productivity technique is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.
This can be a great way to stay focused and avoid burnout. There are also many productivity apps that can help you to stay on track, including Todoist (my personal favorite), Trello, Asana, and Evernote.
7. Create a calendar
The key to maintaining focus and boosting productivity is to create a work schedule and stick to it.
But this is more than just scheduling appointments on your Google calendar.
You need to know how you work, what times of day you’re at your best, and what types of tasks require the most mental energy.
Once you have a good idea of what time of day you’re at your best, then create your daily calendar in such a way as to make the most of those times by scheduling the types of tasks that fit the times of day best.
This means that you reserve a chunk of time for each type of task based on how much mental energy it requires.
As an example, if you’re a developer like me, my best time of day to really make the most progress is early in the morning, so I do my hardest, most mentally-intensive work during this time.
Once I start to sense the shift where I’m needing to switch gears a bit, I can move on to less intensive activities, like scheduling consult calls, meetings, etc.
Then later in the day, after I’ve spent a lot of my energy for the day, I can move on to the lower intensity tasks like responding to emails, answering questions, returning calls, and so on.
Try setting aside a specific block of time for work-related tasks, and make sure to schedule breaks throughout the day.
Most importantly, remember to be flexible. Some days will be more productive than others, and that’s okay. By establishing a regular routine, you’ll be better equipped to stay focused and get things done.
8. Take scheduled breaks
Anyone who has ever tried to work from home knows that it can be a challenge to stay focused and productive.
But to make the most of your day, one of the things that you need to do do is take breaks regularly. Get up and stretch your legs, make yourself a cup of tea, or just step outside for some fresh air.
When you’re working from home you don’t have as many (or any) of the impromptu interruptions that are part of regular office life, like your boss knocking on your door to ask you a question, or you needing to walk into a colleague’s office to talk about something.
Those kinds of things break up the day in substantial ways, even though you may not notice it.
Giving yourself a break of a few minutes here and there is vital to maintaining your energy levels and focus.
It may even be helpful to set a timer for your breaks, so that you don’t get too caught up in what you’re doing and forget to take one.
9. Use background noise
This one may come as a complete surprise to you, but the regular hustle and bustle of office life actually provides a nice background ambient soundscape that can really help you get dialed in and focused.
Sure, music is good sometimes, but not always.
Just the background noise that’s part of office life can be enough, and when you’re working from home, you won’t get that kind of background sound.
One of my favorites that I found that will help you get that background sound without having to leave your home is called Coffitivity. It provides several different types of nondescript background sound that you can play in a browser tab, and you just might be surprised at how comforting it can be.
There are also several different channels on YouTube where you can find this kind of background noise.
Using sound can really get you into the zone and help you really get dialed in and focused on your work.
10. Stay active
Without the structure of an office environment, it can be difficult to stay focused and productive.
Just because you’re not in an office doesn’t mean you have to sit all day. Stand up, stretch, and take a lap around the house every few hours. Not only will this help improve your focus, but it will also boost your overall health and wellness.
Not only should you be moving during your day, you need to make sure you’re still going to the gym.
This is important because it’s easy to let your physical health slip when you’re working from home.
But by making time for physical activity, you’ll improve your focus, increase your energy levels, and just feel better overall.
Working from home doesn’t have to be a struggle. With a little bit of planning and effort, you can make the most of your day and get things done.
When you’re working from home, it’s easy for work to bleed into other aspects of your life. Make sure to set clear boundaries between work time and personal time like we talked about before regarding your schedule. This will help you avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
11. Eat energizing food
Staying focused and productive when working from home requires some effort and planning and part of that plan should be to make sure you’re eating energizing food throughout the day.
Protein-rich snacks and meals will help you stay sharp, while unhealthy junk food will only make you crash.
Heavy, starchy foods tend to weigh you down and make you sleepy.
At least I know they do for me.
If I have a carb-heavy meal during the day within about an hour I find myself ready to take a nap, and that’s not good for being productive!
Lean foods that are energizing and nutritious are the way to go.
Some of my favorites include hard boiled eggs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
You could even make yourself a healthy smoothie with some protein powder to really give yourself a boost.
As an example, every morning around 10:30 am I have a lean, healthy smoothie with protein and fruit and it’s like rocket fuel for my brain.
Then around 12pm I will take a lunch break and have a very green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, salmon, and avocado or something similar.
And for a snack around 3pm I will have some nuts or a banana with peanut butter.
This simple routine helps me avoid the afternoon lull and keeps me focused and productive all day long.
Of course, you’ll need to find what works best for you, but paying attention to the food you’re eating and making sure you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats is a good place to start.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re staying away from sugary drinks and snacks as well as processed junk food.
This kind of food will only make you feel sluggish and will hurt your focus and productivity.
You need to be eating foods that will give you sustained energy throughout the day.
12. Drink lots of water
It’s important to stay hydrated when working from home, just like it is when you’re in an office.
Set a timer on your phone or download a water tracking app to help you remember to drink up.
I like to keep a big glass of water on my desk and make sure I finish it several times before lunchtime.
The trip to the kitchen breaks up my day, I get up and move around, and I’m hydrating all at the same time.
That also means avoiding sugary sodas and juices. Too much sugar will only give you a quick burst of energy followed by an inevitable crash.
And if you’re drinking caffeine all day long in the form of coffee or energy drinks, that’s just going to make things worse.
Good, clean cold water is one of the best ways to fuel your brain so you can be focused while working from home. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and avoid sugary drinks and caffeine.
13. Get the right amount of sleep
This one is huge, and it’s something that a lot of people struggle with.
You need to be getting enough sleep every night, otherwise you’re going to have a hard time focusing and being productive during the day.
I know it can be tempting to stay up late and work into the night, but trust me, it’s not worth it.
One thing that has worked really well for me is learning how my body works and how much sleep is enough.
I do really well when my sleep time can be broken into multiples of 90 minutes.
That means for me, 7.5 hours of sleep feels a lot better than 8. I feel amazing when I get 6 hours of sleep instead of 7. The 90 minute sleep cycle works incredibly well for me.
I encourage you to see how you feel at different intervals. If your sleep cycles are off, doesn’t matter how much sleep you get, you’ll always have trouble being focused and getting things done during the day.
Why can’t I focus while working from home?
It can be hard to stay focused and productive when working from home.
For one thing, there are more distractions at home than in an office.
Pets, children, and spouses can all be vying for your attention, and it’s easy to get pulled away from work to take care of them. In addition, there’s always the temptation to take a break to watch TV or do some housework.
And let’s not forget about the constant stream of notifications from social media and email. All of these distractions can make it difficult to get work done.
What are the biggest distractions while working from home?
Anyone who has ever worked from home knows that it can be a challenge to stay focused and productive.
From the laundry that needs to be done to the fridge that is always calling your name, there are a million things that can distract you from your work.
It can also be roommates or other family members who are constantly making noise or coming in and out of the house.
And then there are the inevitable distractions that come with working on a computer, like social media notifications and email.
Pets can also be a big distraction. If you have a dog, they may want to be near you while you’re working and may bark or whine if they are left alone.
Children can be another big distraction, especially if they are home from school.
If you have to walk by your laundry room or your kitchen while you’re working, you can much more easily be tempted to stop and do a load of laundry or make a snack.
While all of these things can be good things when it comes to working from home, they can also be huge distractions.
The best path is one that empowers you to focus and do your best work while still enjoying the biggest benefits of working from home.
How do you prioritize and stay motivated while working from home?
The key to staying focused and productive when working from home is to create a routine and stick to it.
Know and understand what your most important tasks are each day and work through them diligently.
Reward yourself for completing tasks and making progress. This could be in the form of taking a break, listening to music, or going for a walk.
Establish a set start time for your workday, and make sure to take regular breaks. Get up and move around every hour or so to keep your energy levels up.
And most importantly, Whenever possible, work in a dedicated space where you can close the door and really focus.
How do I manage working from home full time?
Few things are more important to being successful while working from home than establishing the right boundaries.
In a traditional office these boundaries are set for you. That’s not the case when you work from home.
That means no interruptions from roommates or family members. It means that you don’t give in every time your dog starts nudging you to give them a treat.
Make work work for you.
Know what you need to do, make sure you have all the resources you need like your laptop, printer, mouse, etc., and set up a space that allows you to work effectively.
Set a schedule.
Working from home doesn’t mean that you can work whenever you want. In fact, it’s important to set a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This will help you stay focused and productive.
Why is working from home so hard?
Let’s be honest, working from home is hard.
And for many, it’s a lot harder than they thought before they started doing it, especially if your home isn’t set up for it!
There are so many distractions – the fridge, the TV, social media, your bed. It’s tempting to just give up and watch Netflix all day.
But once you get acclimated to working from home, you will probably never want to go back to a traditional office again.
But with a little planning, a little preparation, and a little self-discipline working from home can be an amazing experience.
How can I improve my productivity while working at home?
Let me start by saying that there is no one answer that will work for everyone. We all have different circumstances, workflows, and levels of focus. That said, there are a few general tips that may help you increase your productivity while working from home.
First, make sure to create a dedicated work space. It doesn’t have to be a separate room, but it should be an area where you can close the door (literally or figuratively) and concentrate on your work. This will help to minimize distractions and help you stay focused.
Second, take breaks like we talked about above! Working from home can be isolating, and it’s important to take time to step away from your work and interact with other people. Whether it’s taking a walk around the block or hopping on a video call with a friend, taking a break will help refresh your mind and give you the energy to power through the rest of your day.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7. If you’re finding it difficult to focus, take a break and do something you enjoy. This could be reading, taking a nap, or watching your favorite show. It’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself in order to be productive.
By following these tips, you should be able to improve your productivity while working from home. Just remember that it takes time to adjust to this new way of working, so be patient with yourself and don’t expect to be perfect from the start. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a perfect work-from-home routine!
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