Staying Focused While Working From Home
Defeating the “I Don’t Have to Work Today” Syndrome
So you’re self-employed or maybe you’re a satellite contractor working from a home-based office, nice life right? But that’s not to say that it’s not without its own pitfalls and drawbacks. One of the biggest, of course, being how to stay motivated with no one breathing down your neck all day.
Being your own boss or working from home is rewarding, especially if you’ve got a couple of little one’s not yet in school, or maybe they’re out of school now for the summer. But all too often we sometimes slack off. We may say to ourselves, “Well, if I take a half day today I can make it up tomorrow, or I can work a half-day on Saturday.”
What generally happens? Life happens. You forget that you’ve got a conference call for 3 hours tomorrow and that Saturday you promised the kids an all-day trip to the waterpark. Hey, anyone can make an honest mistake. It’s life and it happens.
Or, maybe you stayed up late catching up on the latest season of Orange is The New Black on the tube and it’s 8 a.m. in the morning now, time to get to work, but the bed looks oh-so-inviting. You can almost hear it calling out to you, begging you to come back and snuggle in just a wee bit longer, right?
Don’t do it- It’s a trap!
You’ve got this thing called work, and whether it’s your business or someone else’s it’s still a business. There’s articles to be written or calls to be made, files to update and memo’s to send out. The point of the matter is, it HAS to be DONE!
So how do we foster and create a suitable work environment in our home so that we can get motivated, get ourselves in the right mindset, and stay there for as long as we must, to do what needs doing? How do we avoid those simple distractions and stay focused?
First off, we need to get motivated, right?
Ways to Focus & Stay Motivated While Working From Home
- Almost any entrepreneur will tell you the key to a successful day starts off with your morning routine. Yes, even though you are your own boss, and you’re at home, your morning routine will make or break your day. I find it’s easiest if you wake up at the same time every morning, have your breakfast, do your morning exercise or meditation- whatever your thing is, take a shower and get dressed for success.
- I say get dressed for success because, even though you may work from home, it’s far easier to stay focused if you trick your brain into thinking you’re at work. It’s far too easy to crawl back into bed for a nap if you’re lounging about in your pajamas. So after you’ve eaten and showered, get dressed as if you are headed into the office. You brain will convince itself that you’re at work.
- Create yourself a dedicated work area. While the idea of working from the comfort of your bed or the couch in the living room might seem cozy, it usually will work against you. That comfy, cozy bed or the couch in front of the television are probably the worst places you can work. It’s hard enough to avoid the temptation of drifting off into social media land and consuming hours of cuddly kitten videos and random goat memes as is. Why on earth would you add the temptation of the boob tube as a distraction?
- Having a dedicated desk and workspace in a quiet spot in your home is another psychological hack to remind yourself that you are supposed to be working and focused on the tasks in front of you. Be sure to have everything you need in front of you. Nothing is more distracting than having to constantly get up to go find this or that.
- If you require an office with a view, a window is fine just so long as what’s outside the window is not more distracting than it is relaxing. Maybe put a flower box or hummingbird feeder out front for a delightfully mindful moment or two of distraction for a few moments, as long as you’re able to refocus and stay motivated. If not, then perhaps a window was a bad idea.
- Any job on the face of the earth has it’s break times. Working from home should be no different. Taking a breather, getting up and stretching, going outside for some fresh air not only breaks up the monotony of our work day, but it gives our brains a few minutes to recharge and refocus.
- Try to structure your break times in the same manner as they would be laid out if you were in the office. So, try to take two 15-minutes breaks equally spread out from a half-hour or hour-long lunch break in the middle of your day.
- If you find that the afternoon drags on too much after the second break, try changing the time of your breaks or perhaps eliminate the second break and end your work day 15-minutes earlier.
- You can adjust your break time/work time ratio anyway you choose, but remember, the trick is to stay on task and stay motivated. You have got to be brutally honest with yourself when working from home, and if you can’t do it, then maybe working from home isn’t for you.
Productivity & Accountability: There’s an App for That
No matter how we slice it up, our work day from home will only be as successful as our ability to be accountable for our work time and productivity. There are several apps out there to help with time management, accountability, and staying on task.
Personally, I use Todoist for my task lists. It syncs across all the platforms I need it to, I can share it with colleagues,family, or friends and it has colored tabs for easy labeling and organization.
For my note taking and brainstorming, Evernote is my go to here. Again it syncs across all my platforms and can be shared with whomever I need to share it with. And it has a handy talk-to-type feature that is great because my brain works faster than my fingers can type.
For writing apps, I use a variety of different apps, but Evernote is usually my workhorse here as well. I also use Hemingway Editor and the Microsoft Office 365 Suite.
And as for time management and Tracking my hours for invoice purposes, I like Toggl, though there are plenty of other time tracking apps out there and I encourage you to try a few and pick whichever one works best for you.
Honesty & Integrity
The main thing that makes working from home doable and a great place to have an office is something there is no app for simple, old-fashioned honesty and integrity. The honesty with yourself to do what you have to in a timely manner. The integrity to know right from wrong and also the concept of knowing what you are capable of and what you’re not capable of.
Working from home can be a rewarding and enjoyable way to make a living. As long as you have the dedication to actually work, that is. So, get out there, err…Stay in there & get to work.