There are a lot of perks to working from the comfort of your own home, however, there are also a lot of distractions. Spouses, kids, dogs, cats, the heaping pile of laundry yet to be done, social media, the refrigerator…you get the point. It’s no wonder we lose track of where the time goes. By the end of the day, you’re often left wondering why you got so little done.
Don’t fret! Those of us who work at home struggle with this constantly. But, there is hope. Here are my strategies for how to stay focused while working from home and increasing your productivity:
1. Take a week to track your time.
Track your time for one week and when the week is done, analyze your results. You will be surprised at what you might find! Resolve to get rid of your time wasters.
2. Weekly planning goes a long way.
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At the end of your week, take some time to plan out the next week’s projects and tasks. Don’t forget to add in family activities and appointments you have scheduled as well. You can plan your week using a weekly planner or a calendar app. I am still a loyal pen and paper planner user. The Passion Planner is my fave!
3. Prioritize your list.
Create a list and divide it into three sections. Label each section with “Must Do,” “If I Have Time,” and “I’d Like to Do.” Choose three things from your to-do list that you consider to be high-priority and list them under the “Must Do” section. Things that aren’t high-priority but still need to be completed can go under “If I Have Time,” and the stuff that you would eventually like to get to but aren’t as time-sensitive can go under “I’d Like to Do” section. Set aside of uninterrupted blocks of time to complete your tasks (15 – 60 minutes at a time). Start with the highest priority task first.
4. Enlist help.
Many outsource tasks to contractors or virtual assistants to get basic tasks done. I don’t do this. Why? Because I have children — children that are old enough to put away the dishes or even to help me schedule social media posts. Yep. I drag them into my work-at-home life and they are usually pretty happy to help. Spouses might be willing to lend a hand if you ask nice.
5. Take action on your goals.
Take your biggest, baddest goal and break it down into actionable daily or weekly tasks to make them easier to focus on. Asana is a great app for this task.
6. Set a time limit for checking emails and social media.
You don’t need to check your email 252 times a day. You just don’t. And your cousin Jane’s new puppy photos will still be visible after you have completed your projects for the day. Don’t be stopping in the middle of a task to check your email or social media. Personally, I check my emails and social media in the morning after I have taken the time to get myself ready for the day and before I close down my computer (just before dinner time).
7. Multitasking is so last century.
Quite honestly, I find multitasking to be a huge drain on my creativity. Focus on one task or project before moving on to the next one. Otherwise, you are at risk for having started a bunch of stuff but finishing none. Laser-focusing on one task at a time can really increase your productivity. A lot.
8. Write down the shiny stuff (eh hem…distractions).
There is so much “noise” going on around us at any one given time that it easy for us to become quickly distracted. As soon as we get curious about something, we pull up Google to do a quick search. “What was the name of the actor in that movie?” “How long will it take me to drive to the coast?” “How do I make chicken enchiladas?” It takes about 25 minutes to get back on task. Try this instead, next time a crazy idea pops into your head, quickly jot it down on a piece of paper (or, even better, use Evernote).
9. Just say NO.
If you already have a full day ahead of you, don’t feel like you have to commit to taking on another project for someone else. Just say no.
10. Create a desirable workspace.
Do you require peace and quiet while you work? Or do you prefer having some background noise to help keep you on task? Whatever your needs, set up your workspace so it works for you. Decorate it in a way that inspires creativity and focus. Oh, and it always helps to a comfy chair. If you are one of those super tidy types, make sure you clear your workspace of clutter. If you focus better while listening to music or some kind of background noise, connect those earbuds to your phone and tune in to the project at hand.
11. Take breaks and often.
Taking short breaks every 25-30 minutes can help you increase your focus by preventing burnout. Get up and move around. Go say hi to the hubby or kids. Get a snack. Do handstands. Whatever it takes to keep you from overworking yourself.
12. Break up your projects and tasks.
Break your projects into smaller more manageable tasks. For example, let’s say you are creating 25 Pinterest graphics. Don’t try creating them all at once. Talk about graphics overload! Break down the project instead. Take 25 minutes to create a few images. Take a short break. Then 25 minutes create a few more. And so on. If you have some sort of home assistant device, like Google Home or an Echo, use this to set timers to keep you on track.
13. Use an app amp up your productivity.
Apps like Evernote can keep you organized and keep track of the shiny things that invade your brain (distractions). An app like Brainwave can be downloaded to your iPhone. In this app, you can choose settings like Concentration Boost and Problem Solving, Brainstorming, or Memory Boost and Creative Thinking. Some pretty cool tricks, in my opinion. This isn’t the only app out there that will help you stay focused and productive. Find one that suits you best.
There you have it! 13 fantastic ways to help you stay focused. Give ’em a go and see which ones work best for you.
Do you have a strategy on staying focused? I’d love to hear all about it! Leave a comment under this post and let me know how you stay focused while working from home.
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