How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home

If you’re accustomed to doing your job in an office setting, transitioning to working from home can feel unexpectedly difficult. Often, it’s easy to envision how simple working from your home might be. Once you start to do it, however, you may find yourself struggling to stay focused and to keep up with your work at the same pace as you could before. With the uncertainty COVID-19 brings in regards to when you’ll return to the office, it’s vital to find strategies to thrive while working from home. Here are five:

Choose a specific work area

It can be tempting to sit on your couch or in bed while working from home. This, however, can quickly lead to procrastination. Instead, set up a dedicated workspace with everything you might need throughout the workday. Think of your desk space at your office—what’s there that you find yourself constantly reaching for? In addition, consider keeping the following items nearby:

  • Laptop charger

  • Headphones

  • Pens, highlighters, and pencils

  • Pads of paper or important notebooks

While you can certainly get up to stretch or for your lunch break, having most of the necessary items within reach can prevent disruptions in your workday and keep you focused on the task at hand. 

Create a daily schedule 

At the start of each day, it can be beneficial to create a to-do list. This can be structured however works best for you—for example, either detailed in order of tasks or simply a rough listing of what you hope to get done. Regardless of your method for creating your schedule, having a list of what needs to be accomplished can help give structure to your day and allow you to feel a bit more in control during this transition. 

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Eliminate distractions

While working from home, you have easy access to things that could distract you from your work—household chores, social media, or the book you’re currently reading. Set up your workspace away from anything that might cause your mind to stray from the task in front of you. If you need your phone nearby for specific work tasks, set time limits on all unnecessary apps that may distract you throughout the day. If you’re working from home at the same time as your roommate or have family members around, set up your workspace in a separate area of your home. It’s key to communicate with anyone else who will be home with you what you need to have a successful workday. 

Dress for success

Even if you won’t be conducting video calls during the day, it’s often helpful to dress like you’re at the office. Changing out of your pajamas may seem insignificant, but it can give you a heightened level of motivation to tackle your day. Note, though, that if you typically wear a suit or dress clothes to the office, you probably don’t need to get that dressed up to work from home.

Set boundaries 

It’s key to set boundaries for yourself when working from home. Just like if you were in the office, have set hours that you plan to work that day and shut off your devices when you reach the end of the day’s hours. It can be tempting to work longer hours, but be sure to maintain a work-life balance during this time. 

Additionally, as odd as it might sound, while working from home you may get inspired in the middle of the workday to complete household tasks you’ve lacked motivation to do in the past. Set aside dedicated time after your work is completed to do anything around the house that needs to get done. Knowing you have scheduled time to do these chores can help you stay focused during your workday. 

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Working from home requires a type of discipline different from what is needed when working in an office. In order to thrive during this transition, set up a dedicated workspace, remove distractions, and create a daily schedule. If you establish expectations for yourself for each day, you can set yourself up for success. 

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