Staying Focussed When Working From Home

Working from home is a great option that includes many advantages. But it can take some practice to be productive when working from the comfort of home. If you’re tempted to do household chores when you should be working, here are some tips for staying focused.

Plan Your Day

A structured schedule mimics the regularity of an office environment and combats the lure of flexible timings that can lead to procrastination. Having set times for starting work, taking breaks, and logging off helps keep your day balanced, prevents burnout, and maintains productivity. It also helps in creating a sense of normalcy and predictability.

Having a plan for your day will help keep pressing tasks at top of mind. Miss Efficiency’s Founder and Senior Bookkeeper, Sarah Stein says, “Review at the beginning of the day what needs to be done and work systematically. [Then] review at the end of the day what’s been done, and needs to be pushed forward, what needs to be done tomorrow.”    For Kirsten Forrester, CEO of Accounting for Good, “planning and a pressing to-do list” helps her stay focused when working from home.

Prioritize Tasks

Knowing what to tackle first based on priority helps in managing a potentially overwhelming workload. It ensures that critical tasks are not neglected. Prioritization allows you to focus your energy on tasks that are most important first, which can lead to more efficient work flow and better use of your mental energy.

Set Clear Boundaries

Interruptions from roommates, family members, or pets can disrupt your flow and concentration. Communicating your work schedule and expectations about quiet times can help minimize interruptions. This ensures that your focus remains on work tasks during designated working hours.

Sarah Stein likes to make sure she sets clear boundaries when working from home for both herself and her family and friends. “I set boundaries with myself about ‘home’ time and ‘work’ time, and set clear boundaries with family and friends who may pop in for a coffee because they know I’m at home anyway.”

Nicole Lynch, Director of Streamline Management, makes a deal with herself that she “needs to finish a task before getting up for tea or a biscuit”. Gary Green, Chartered Accountant at Key Business Consultants, LLP follows a similar rule. “I take everything I need into the office, so I do not have to leave for anything. Do not answer the home phone. Separate business wifi and telephone.”

Use the Pomodoro Technique

This technique involves working in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. It's crucial because it helps maintain high levels of concentration while preventing fatigue. By breaking work into manageable intervals, the Pomodoro Technique keeps the mind fresh and focused. Regular breaks also rejuvenate your mental state, allowing you to maintain steady productivity through the day.

Limit Social Media and Mobile Use

Social media and frequent mobile use are major distractions that can fragment your attention and reduce your work efficiency. Using apps to block distracting sites during work hours can help you stay focused. Allocating specific times for checking your phone can also prevent habitual scrolling from eating into your productive time.

Take Care of Your Health

Physical and mental well-being directly impact your ability to concentrate and be productive. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and hydration keep your energy levels up and your mind sharp, which are vital for maintaining focus during work hours.

Choose Your Work Carefully

Knowing what type of work to do when you’re working from home can help with staying focused. “I’m more focused when working from home, as there are less distractions. I aim to work a day a week at home, mainly on strategy, planning and marketing,” says Sharon Pocock, MD and Chief Innovator at Kinder Pocock.

Kirsten Forrester likes to “schedule phone calls, report writing or research work from home Wednesday”.

Thanks to the Cloud and the various apps available on it, working from home while staying connected to clients and employees is easier than it used to be. If you plan your day, set clear boundaries, and choose your work carefully, you’ll have no problem staying focused and working productively.

The Takeaway

By implementing these strategies, you can create an effective and focused working environment at home, which not only boosts your productivity but also helps in achieving a healthier work-life balance.

Heather Smith produces a bi-weekly Accounting Apps newsletter. Learn more and subscribe on her website.

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