9 Ways to Stay Focused When Working from Home

With the spread of the coronavirus affecting everything from international travel to small businesses, the mitigation of COVID-19 has become a growing concern.

With the spread of the coronavirus affecting everything from international travel to small businesses, the mitigation of COVID-19 has become a growing concern. That's why many companies are recommending that as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be stopped.

Working from home can be highly productive, but it can also go badly wrong. Without a proper office space, a prioritized schedule, and on-the-spot supervision, it's all too easy to be distracted, and to get very little done.

These distractions are easy to ignore in an office, but at home, it can be difficult to draw the line between personal and professional time.

Whether you're a veteran or new to remote working, here are 9 ways to stay focused when working from home, avoid distractions, and be more productive.

The importance of the work space

Not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated office, and that's okay. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can reserve a small area that is only for work-related activities. 

Choose a space in your home where you can quickly and easily access all files, tools, and other work materials without having to constantly move around the house. Having a dedicated space will help you focus more on your work and spend less time on distractions.

Set boundaries for your family and friends

This confinement has forced all of us to stay together in the same space, and sometimes, it can be difficult to separate your work from your personal life, especially if you have children at home with you.

One of the advantages of working remotely is being able to spend more time with your family, but if you don't set boundaries, your family and friends will think you are available all day and can distract you from your work.

Create a schedule 

It may seem obvious, but not everyone gives it the importance it deserves. When you don't have a defined schedule, your mind is in "work mode" 24/7 which ends up being stressful and exhausting. On the other hand, you don't have to set a schedule as tight as in the office, one of the advantages of working from home is precisely that flexibility.

Create a contract with yourself, such as “Work begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., and I will take one hour for lunch”. Create and maintain the boundaries with yourself that will acknowledge your personality and allow you to be your best.

Decide which distractions are allowed while you’re on the clock and which are not and, above all, be honest with yourself about how personal tasks are distracting you and resolve to change.

Enjoy the benefits of music

According to a study conducted at Stanford University's Neuroscience Laboratory, music involves the areas of the brain that control attention span, predictive abilities, and memory retention. Therefore, when we listen to a melody, our attention is activated, it is easier to memorize things and it awakens intuition or that subjective intelligence that is capable of perceiving more subtle details in situations and the environment.

But not all songs are good for work, the choice of music matters, it's not the same to work listening to Metallica as it is listening to chill music or the soundtrack of a movie. 

Calm and melodic music is better suited to reach high states of concentration, songs with lots of rhythms and vocal presence keep us awake and even speed us up. They are suitable when you have to do very mechanical tasks such as selecting images.

Music that is too active is generally not recommended in the work environment as it distracts, excites, and irritates the nervous system. 

Get the right tools for the job

One of the advantages of this technological era is that we have at hand an infinite number of tools and applications that can help us achieve our work objectives. Sometimes we don't focus well on the work because we don't have the right tools to do it. 

In this article, you will find 6 tools that will help you focus and be more productive in your remote work.

Dress for success

Dressing for work can set the right mental tone for the day (and avoid any awkwardness if you get dialed into a virtual meeting while you're still in your pajamas!). It's hard to get out of the comfort zone when we can't leave the house but you don’t need a three-piece suit or a pencil skirt and heels, just wear what’s comfortable for you.

The simple fact of having a routine, getting up early, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth will already put you in "work mode" and you will be more focused.

Stay away from social networks

Social networks can be one of the worst distractions when working from home, it is unavoidable and even more now that we want to be aware of all the latest news about the COVID-19. All the media overwhelm us with that topic, every day we hear sad and shocking news about that and can end up affecting your work and your mind. 

Besides, if you repeatedly check your social networks during your working hours you will get even more stressed, take a break from the networks during your working hours, free your mind and focus on your work, the rest can wait.

Post-it Strategy

One of the strategies that have proven to work very well is to focus on small things, small goals that you can complete, and not add a lot of tasks that you know you won't be able to accomplish. That will just produce anxiety about not completing the tasks and you will be overwhelmed and unproductive.

Take it as a game, take a post-it and write on it at most 3 things (doable) that you would like to complete today and stick it on your computer screen or desktop. For example, I have to finish the report and present it to the boss and complete this task during the day. This simple but effective exercise will help you to focus on small goals and at the same time will give you satisfaction to have completed your goals in a given time frame.

The Pomodoro technique

We know that taking frequent breaks helps keep up motivation and improve productivity. There is a time management philosophy called “The Pomodoro Technique” that can help you be more productive in your workday, especially if you work from home and are surrounded by possible distractions.

Spend 25 minutes on a task and don't interrupt yourself, set your phone alarm, and resist any distractions during your dedicated work time. Once the time is up, take a 5-minute break, have a coffee, or walk around the house.

After four 25-minute sessions, take a break that’s 15 to 30 minutes. Continue these intervals throughout the day.

These are just a few tips that have been proven to work for a huge number of people according to experts, but in conclusion, I want to let you know that not following these tips doesn't make you any less productive than someone who does. If you, for example, are very productive even in your pajamas or on the couch, that's okay. Do what works best for you and what suits your personality and your way of being.

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