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How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home

Updated on November 17, 2013

Working from home. I do it. Do you? Whether you are self-employed or are able to do some office work from your home, it is convenient to be able to set up a home workspace. Time to commute is non-existent, and you can divide your workday as you like. The issue is staying on track during that workday. Here are tips for staying focused when you work from home.

Making the List

Write the list at the start of your day!
Write the list at the start of your day! | Source

Make a To-Do List

I know, I know, the to-do list has a bad reputation.

It taunts you, reminding you of all you have to accomplish in the day and then you feel inadequate when you don’t get it all done. But wait, here are some ways the to-do list is helpful (and how to feel adequate again):

  • Make a list at the start of the day, before you even open your email or start that first work task.
  • Number the items in order of importance, so you get the things done first that are essential.
  • Remember it’s okay if you don’t get less-important things done; if there is a long timeframe for that project then it’s okay to work on it tomorrow or next week.
  • Remember a LOT of people don’t get through their entire list every day. It’s fine. It happens more often than you likely realize. It doesn’t mean you did not work hard or accomplish a lot today.

The to-do list keeps you on track, so that you stay focused with what needs to get done. You also don’t waste time wondering what to do next, as you have that list telling you clearly what to do.

Question for You

Do You Feel Like You Handle Distractions Well at Home?

See results

Reduce Distractions

Note that the word here is “reduce” rather than “eliminate.” It’s simply not possible to eliminate every distraction when you work from home. I work in a condo, and I can’t control what time of day the building’s gardener decides to mow the grass. Yes, that whirring of the lawnmower is distracting. So I have to deal with that factor as best I can. I close windows, put on YouTube and play music on my computer as I work.

If you have a distraction at home that you can’t eliminate, try your best to deal with it during the workday. Perhaps it is a dog that constantly wants your attention, or a child wanting you to make that playtime right now instead of tonight. Whatever the situation, do your best to power through until the end of day.

Working Away: Do You Get Distracted?

Work. Distraction. More Distraction. Less Work.
Work. Distraction. More Distraction. Less Work. | Source

Get Your Goals On

Come on, let's get moving!
Come on, let's get moving! | Source

Imagine Your Goals

Aha, goals. Some of your goals likely are monetary-based. Perhaps you want to make a certain income this year or save for a trip to Spain next year. You also have career goals. If you are a freelance writer, you may want to gain more clients or finish that book you started six months ago.

Write down your specific objectives on sticky notepads and post them within view from your desk. When your mind starts to wander during the day, look at those papers. You are reminded to keep working so that you can earn enough money to meet those goals. Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Dollar by dollar, you can get there!

A Helpful Guide to Productivity

Check out this guide: Want to get more done? Take more breaks!

This post includes the quote, "Breaks help you rev your brain down, and slow down. This helps you reflect and do better work."



Take Breaks

At first glance, this tip may seem irrelevant. While we are talking about retaining focus when working at home, we can only concentrate for so long before our mind wanders. It’s natural for the mind to wander. Without breaks, it may take us twice as long to get that spreadsheet completed or other task of the day. Also, if you work on a computer, your eyes get tired, and your muscles start to seize from lack of movements.

Do your mind and the rest of your body a favor and take breaks during your workday. Perhaps you spend the break in another room in the house or you take a walk in the fresh air. Step away from the work area for a small chunk of time and come back refreshed in mind, spirit and body.

Retaining focus when you work within the home can be a daily hurtle. Use one or a combination of the above tips to help you get through your workday productively. Here’s to working well and working happily.


**Do you have additional tips for staying focused on work at home? Feel free to leave a comment below with your advice!


©2013 Christy Birmingham

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    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 2 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Very good HUB. Take breaks? Yeah. I'm really bad at that. Once I got started I don't want to move! I've always been that way. I'll try. :)

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 3 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      It's a really helpful article. Most freelancers struggle with distractions, and like most of them, I am, too, not at all satisfied with my overall efforts. I know I need to put a lot more effort, but working from home has its own disadvantages. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen.

      Your tips will be really helpful to guys like us. Thanks for sharing :)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Love this article! It took me a while to get used to the idea of working from home, and even longer to be productive. I'm sure this is going to be extremely helpful to a new generation of individuals working from home.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Good advice. When I work from a list I am able to stay more focused and on task. I also tend to take the more unpleasant tasks on during times I'm most alert.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Good advice! I like the one using sticky notes for jotting down objectives...I do that for ideas, but not objectives. Thanks!

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      So glad you all find these tips helpful too - here's to being productive at home!

    • ThompsonPen profile image

      Nicola Thompson 3 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      I love this! and it's true, the lists truly do help! Liked, pinned and shared, friend :)

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      Great tips! Another tip that I have been using lately is by making schedules and routines to help me stay on track during the day. By making schedules and routines habit, I am able to stay on track!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Start to finish, this is an excellent real time look at staying focused while working from home. I'm still always trying exercise myself to stay focused on projects at hand rather than spreading myself too thin by getting too many going at once. My work always suffers if I try to do balance too many at one time. I don't like to take breaks until a job is complete, but you are right. Good stuff here--pinning, etc.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Happy New Year 2014, Thelma! Yes, it's sometimes hard with those distractions but it sounds like you found a way to work through it well :)

      moonlake, I hear often that pets are disruptive - oh dear! I am glad you find enjoyment in writing!!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      I´m easily and mostly distracted now that I´m in my home country for the winter. There´s always something or someone who just came to visit me in the middle of my creativity. When I didn´t want to be distracted seriously, I worked in my bedroom and my relatives thought that I´m having a nap so nobody disturbed me unless it was very important like a phone call from Germany.

      Having a to do list is my routine, but still not all in the list are done in a day. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Voted up and shared. Happy New Year 2014!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I don't work from home but I do try to do hubs and other writing on the internet. It's hard, my cat walks across my keyboard and he's so big when he decides to take a nap in behind my keyboard it pushes the thing off the table. The dogs decide they're going wrestle beside me making all kinds of noise. My husband asks me a dozen questions. If I lock them out they bang on the door!!

      My stuff is just for fun but if I had to work I would have to take your advice. Voted up on your hub.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, many of us struggle with the distractions - I'm pleased we are able to help one another here!

    • isaacasante profile image

      Isaac Asante 3 years ago from Accra, Ghana

      Great hub! I also work at home and I like it because I can have a "free" agenda. But I often tend to get distracted when I feel like composing music, whereas I have some work to do.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I sometimes get distracted when writing and I need to review your suggestions at least once a week. It's good to know that many others are in the same boat.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Working from home is SO HARD! I'll try your advice.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I like lists too, Jackie!! Haha you're cute :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I love a list for everything, and even when I had my own business I worked at home too and there is no way to not get confused without that list! ^

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks so much everyone! Yes, getting distracted easily happens... Let's stay focused and get some serious writing done :)) Smiles -- I really appreciate the comments!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home well said I try to avoid distractions. Yeah, sometimes it is difficult to actually be into the working mode especially when someone comes to visit. Interesting, useful and voted up.

    • JG11Bravo profile image

      JG11Bravo 3 years ago

      Great tips. Staying focused is undoubtedly one of the biggest difficulties those of us who work from home face. Voting up.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 3 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Good tips! I work from home sometimes and I do just get overwhelmed by all the things I want to get done in a very small amount of time. I think I need to be away from certain rooms that will "tempt" me to do housework instead of getting work done to meet deadlines! A list would definitely help me, and taking set breaks as well.

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

      I presently work at home and I get so distracted easily, especially by the TV, my sisters and my nieces (although they're delightful as I love them). Sometimes my mother calls me for a little help in the kitchen if there's no one around (not that there's something wrong with it). Thanks for your hub, I will learn a lot from this in maybe getting my priorities a bit more straight. And yes, I do believe in breaks, even if you're working at home.

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 3 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      working from home is my dream. i'm using up some vacation time and tryi.g to get some writing done. I have found that housework is my biggest distraction. I have trouble ignoring the cat hair in the carpet, the oven thAt needs cleaning, dust, I could go on and on. I like the idea of yhe To-Do List. Maybe it will kerp me focussed on my writing and not my dirty house.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      These are great tips, not only for people working from home, but also for others, who need to learn, how to organise their life and their work.

      Voted up and thanks for sharing!

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 3 years ago

      Good tips on how people can stay focused if they are working at home. It can be easy to get distracted especially if one does not have a set time or schedule to do things. Making to-do lists and attempting to reduce these distractions should help people in staying focused enough to do what they need to do.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You have great tips here. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up :-)

      Prasetio

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 3 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      I am so absent minded that I have to have a to do list, it is the only way that I don't forget to do things as small as mailing off a letter or paying a bill. Thanks for the share.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      It's hard for me to stay focused when I'd rather be playing with my grandchickies! :)

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      This is an awesome hub, voted up, more and shared. I was finding it extremely hard to work from home at first but know I am beginning to get myself to stick to a schedule and the progress is beginning to show. You have given some very good tips in this hub.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      To-do lists, goals and breaks. Yep, that sounds good - things I try to do every single day. Thank you for sharing your awesome tips!

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 3 years ago from USA

      I worked from home 7 years ago, oh how I miss it!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      These are wonderful tips for staying on task when working from home. I've worked from home for about three years now and I've figured out what works and doesn't work for me. I find that if I wake up slow with the dogs and then get to work, I do better. I also take a walking break during the day and it helps refresh and energize me. Thanks for a very useful hub.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I get soooo distracted--TV, pets, my mind wandering. LOL! I have an overall list that I post on the closet door--4 pages! Then I do a daily list of things I must (or almost must!) do. I'm a work in progress. Great hub!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Great suggestions christy, I do get distracted pretty easily to be honest, but thats usually because someone wants something, or the phone rings or I really do need to do that bathroom! lol! I must get organised, I drive myself insane! great tips, voted up and shared! nell

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well my friend, I've been doing this for three years now and I handle distractions very well; for those who do not, these are excellent suggestions.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Great hub here for those who work at home. I can see how easily one can get distracted while working at home. You have given great advice here to lessen the distractions.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

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