Working from home is now a common thing for many of us. But, while your commute has become non-existent and you’ve traded you work wardrobe in for an actual robe, there are downsides to the WFH routine. Noisy kids during those Zoom meetings, chatty spouses, and the lure of housework can make it hard to focus. What’s more, the structure of working in an office has all but disappeared. So how can you overcome these work-from-home distractions and take control of your work day?
Why is it so hard to concentrate while working from home, versus working at your desk at the office? One of the reasons could be, that you are missing your usual “cues” that help you concentrate. Think about it. You get to work at 8 a.m., make a cup of coffee in the breakroom, then head to your desk. Your brain knows that after you get your cup of coffee, you will be buckling down, and getting work done before you break for lunch. So you are missing some of the usual cues you have at work that signal to your brain that you will be starting a session of concentrated work. This might be making it harder for you to concentrate and focus on work while at home. But with these tips below, you can make your work from home experience more efficient and effective.
Here are some tips to help you stay focused while working from home:
Take breaks. If you’ve had your nose to the grindstone for several hours, give yourself a break to recover. Take a short walk around the block or grab a healthy snack. If you have kids at home, take 10 to 15 minutes to visit or play with them.
Stick to your regular schedule. It can be tempting to sleep in or do some housework before you “clock in” and crack open your laptop. Unfortuately, that can make it harder to transition to “work mode.” Rather than giving in to these temptations, start your work at the same time you would as if you were going into the office. Keeping a familiar routine can help you stay focused because it replicates some part of your normal work day.
Do-not-disturb mode. If you live with other people, whether it’s family or a roommate, tell them that you need to be able to set aside time where you can work undisturbed. Let them know when you’ll be working and when you will be free (such as a coffee break or lunch). Setting both “busy” and “available” times helps set some boundaries.
Have a dedicated workspace. Whether it’s a home-office setup or a quiet nook in your kitchen, it’s important to have a dedicated office space. Although it’s easy to sit with your laptop on the couch or your bed, your posture and the ergonomics won’t be right. Not only can this lead to neck and back pain, these locations are often in close proximity to a TV, which is an obvious distraction.
Dress for success. There’s no need to break out the pencil skirt when you’re not leaving your home, but spending workdays in your PJs won’t give you the most productive mindset. Instead, wear something comfortable yet somewhat professional. And have a morning routine. Brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and changing out of your pajamas is crucial, even if you are just switching to yoga pants.
Know when to clock out. It can be tempting to open your laptop after dinner or on a Sunday afternoon, but when it feels like you’re working all the time, you likely are. And that can quickly lead to burnout. Stick to predetermined work hours and maximize your workdays so that you can enjoy your time off. In this same vein, you may feel that you need to prove your worth to your manager by working long hours without breaks. This is not healthy. Setting boundaries will enable you to work far more effectively and avoid burnout.
If your WFH situation is temporary—or even if you’re a seasoned remote worker—incorporating these tips can help you stay laser-focused on the job at hand and foster a healthier work-life balance.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.