Working from home can be an attractive option for many professionals. Telecommuting, or freelancing from home, allows flexibility in work hours and increased comfort compared to traditional work environments. However, employment outside an office has its own set of challenges, like mitigating distractions and staying motivated. In this article, we’ll outline steps to help you to stay focused on your job when you work from home.
How to focus when you work from home
Here is a list of steps you can take to stay motivated when you work from home.
- Have a separate workspace
- Set up a schedule
- Get dressed and ready for the day
- Set boundaries
1. Have a separate workspace
Whether you have a room with a door you can close or just a small work corner in your kitchen, be sure that the area is designated as your office space. A dedicated workspace allows you to focus on work and cut down on distractions. Ensure that your chosen workspace is organised and has good lighting. Since you will be spending many hours in your workspace, make it comfortable and appealing with photos, artwork and organisational tools.
2. Set up a schedule
Working from home often allows you the luxury of deciding when you will work. Choose your most productive time and stick to your chosen work schedule.
One way to stay focused is to structure your day as though you were at a workplace. Both your personal and work life need boundaries. When you work from home, you may be tempted to check work-related emails at all hours of the day and night. However, having allocated “office hours” at home can help clarify what is acceptable during those hours. Household chores, friends visiting for coffee and errands should be activities that happen before or after work. This boundary will allow you to focus on work during working hours.
3. Get dressed and organised for the day
Part of having a business mindset is having a good routine and habit. Getting up and getting dressed for work can put you in the right professional mindset. Dress comfortably. The important thing to help you focus on work is a routine, including waking up at a certain time, brushing your teeth, bathing and getting dressed.
Start the day with a to-do-list. Put this list in a place where you can see it. As you complete a task from the list, cross it off. As you see the list get smaller, you may feel more productive, which could result in increased focus and motivation.
4. Set boundaries
Family and friends may often think that because you work at home, you are always available. Explain to your friends, family or flatmates that working from home carries the same responsibilities as working in an office. For example, if you are home with your spouse or other family members, tell them, “I am working at my computer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, I am happy to talk during lunch, but other than that I will be busy.”
There may be times when someone visits or contacts you unexpectedly. In these cases, be diplomatic and open for a conversation for a few minutes, like you would with a colleague who stops to chat at your desk. Gracefully end the conversation saying something like, “It was great talking, but I’ve got work I need to finish up urgently,” and then offer a time to meet up after hours.
Occasionally you may have non-work-related requests that you need to take care of. In these situations, calculate how much time you need for the task, complete it and then return to work.
5. Take breaks
Taking a break while you work may sound counterproductive, but regular breaks actually help you focus on your work more than you think. Short breaks to eat a snack, stretch or go outside for some fresh air will likely refresh you so you’re ready to focus when you return to work. You may also consider taking a longer break to go to the gym or do yoga.