A Foolproof Formula for Staying Focused While Working From Home

During these crazy times, many of us have transitioned to working from home. But, working from home instead of at the office means trading in one set of distractions for another. Plus, you need to supervise yourself. So, how can you stay focused when your kids are bored, your dog wants to play, and Netflix just added an entire binge worthy season of your favorite show?

Remote work has lots of advantages, including greater flexibility, a much more relaxed dress code, and zero commuting time. However, in order to get your work done, it’s important to create a system that keeps you focused and productive.

You can succeed at remote work by providing your own structure and motivation. Use these ideas for dealing with internal and external distractions.

Dealing with Internal Distractions:


  1. Think positive. Build your own morale. Think about the things you like about your job. Appreciate the opportunity to do meaningful work that stretches your skills and helps others.
  2. Set goals. Give yourself specific targets to strive for. Know what you want to accomplish each day and over the long term. Most of us have more work than we can do in a day, so be sure to prioritize.
  3. Write a list. Use paper and pen or a free app to make a to do list. Block out realistic time for each task. Having a to do list can help you stay focused and checking off each item when done gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Schedule your day. Figure out your priorities and the hours when you’re most effective. Devote most of your resources to the activities that create real value. If you are remoting into a work server, you might find that response times are much higher on off hours when less people are working. So, you might tweak your hours to be able to work more efficiently.
  5. Designate a workspace. Carving out an area exclusively for work will help you keep your mind on your job. It can be a spare room or one corner in your studio apartment. While working on your laptop while curled up on the couch in front of the TV seems like a dream, you are likely to be much less productive than if you were actually sitting at a desk.
  6. Reduce discomfort. Pay attention to ergonomics, especially if you’re working at home full-time. Arrange your workspace for maximum efficiency. Ask your employer if they’ll help cover the costs for equipment like headphones to reduce straining your neck during phone calls.
  7. Take breaks. You’ll accomplish more if you allow yourself generous helpings of downtime. Try to pause and relax before you feel fatigued Don’t forget to take a lunch break even though you are working from home. Try to maintain regular working hours and maintain that work life balance.
  8. Move around. Exercise reduces stress and restores your energy. Use some of your break time to stretch and get the blood pumping. Go for a walk, play with your dog, hop on your exercise bike or do some yoga during your lunch hour.

Dealing with External Distractions:


  1. Ask for support. Let your boss, coworkers, family, and friends know when you need help. Be willing to return the favor when you see them struggling.
  2. Arrange childcare. Finding someone to watch your kids has become more difficult for many parents. Keep in touch with other families to learn about options near you or ask your employer about taking leave if necessary.
  3. Set boundaries. Let others know the hours when you’re available for collaboration and when you need to work without interruptions. Shut your door and turn the volume down on your phone for tasks that require concentration.
  4. Interact with others. On the other hand, socializing is a valuable part of your workday too. Participate in virtual happy hours and stick around to chat before and after video meetings.
  5. Play music. This is your chance to control the soundtrack at work. Create a variety of playlists to mask background noise or stimulate creative thinking.
  6. Eat healthy. Your kitchen can be a distraction too. Plan your daily menu in advance around nutritious meals and snacks. It’s easier to turn down junk food when you feel full.
  7. Limit media. Facebook and streaming videos may consume much of your day unless you eliminate such temptations. Find methods that work for you such as turning off notifications or setting time limits on sites where you tend to linger too long.

Develop the communication and organizational skills you’ll need to excel at working from home. You can be a high performer whether you’re sitting in a cubicle or on your patio.

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