How to Stay Focused While Working From Home
Working from the comfort of your home in sweats sounds like the dream, right? For many, this seems ideal. Eschewing treacherous commutes and office politics, easy access to snacks and having your dog be your only coworker is a pretty sweet situation. But it’s not all roses, unfortunately.
Remote work certainly comes with a specific and daunting set of challenges. Feelings of isolation, lack of motivation, and unstructured work hours can all become overwhelming quickly. It’s important to be intentional about how you utilize your time so you can stay focused, productive, and accumulate more billable hours!
If you’re struggling to get things done, the four strategies below will help you stay sharp, efficient, and stop you from sabotaging your productivity while you’re working from home.
1. Set aside a designated workspace
Not everyone has access to or can afford a dedicated office – and that’s okay. Even if you live in a tiny apartment, you should still set aside a small space that’s only for work-related endeavors.
When you’re in that space, close the metaphorical door and only use it for work. Ask your roommates or family members to think of that space as your office, and to not disturb you while you’re in it.
It can also be tough to draw a boundary between your bed and your workspace – we’ve all been guilty of answering a few quick emails propped up after hours with our laptop. However, most of the time your bed should be a place to recover from the demands of the day – not act as an extension of your workspace.
Setting a line between “home” and “work” will help make sure that both you and the people you live with have reasonable boundaries between your work and non-work time.
2. Get up and get dressed
You may not be going into a physical office every day, but the clothes you wear still affect your mindset, productivity, and general work performance. Rolling out of bed and going straight to work in your pajamas can make it feel like you’re not really working, which leaves you more vulnerable to distractions.
According to a study from Northwestern University, certain types of clothing can influence one’s psychological processes and have a real impact on productivity. Clothing holds symbolic meaning for us, and the brain connects the type of clothing to stay consistent with the meaning it holds – whether its “professional work wear” or “relaxing weekend attire.” The study also asserts that dressing professionally puts us in a different mental state where we feel more present, engaged, and committed. That’s not really the feeling those stretched-out yoga pants give off, right? Make an effort to get dressed every day – you might just notice a difference in your motivation.
3. Set your work hours
When you work from home, there’s no promise of a guaranteed 5 pm quitting time, which often leads to lost motivation. The lack of structure that comes with flexible hours can make it easy to get both overwhelmed and sidetracked.
Know ahead of time when you’re going to stop working – or set a standard of measurable results to achieve before ending your work. Either choose a set time or write down a list of tasks you need to accomplish before calling it a day. This will help keep you focused and less prone to distractions, and the added pressure of setting expectations will enhance your motivation.
4. Don’t isolate yourself from the outside world
One of the biggest complaints you hear from remote workers is that it can be isolating. Making sure you are going outside, getting fresh air, and communicating with others is honestly a huge part of thriving in a remote work situation. It’s important to have a healthy work-life balance so you’re not always alone at home. Too many days in confinement can lead to loneliness and increased rates of depression – both of which can take a toll on your mental health and productivity.
Luckily, with the rise of freelancing and telecommuting, there are plenty of options to get work done and have social interaction. New coworking spaces are seemingly opening up all the time, with great options like The Wing, WeWork, and Your Alley available for membership.
Working at cafes is also a viable option. Neuroscientists recently discovered why it’s easier to focus in a coffee shop than an open plan office. Let the buzz of conversation energize you while you get things done.
Telecommuting is on the rise, and studies show that working remotely can increase productivity. However, without the proper boundaries and expectations in place, it can quickly lead to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and a lack of motivation.
Being prepared and planning for work from home success is key, and the above strategies should guide you. What other methods would you add to this list? What’s your biggest challenge working remotely?
This week’s post was brought to you by Dmitri Leonov, VP of Growth at SaneBox.
Dmitri Leonov is an internet entrepreneur, leading growth efforts at Sanebox. He has over 10 years of experience in startups, corporate strategy, sales strategy, channel development, international expansion and M&A.