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How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home
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
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?
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?
Get Your Goals On
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."
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