At its best, working from home helps you restore work-life balance, spend more time with your family, complete tasks at your own rhythm, and work from a space that feels friendlier and more familiar. Working from home has its downsides, however, and even if you’re happy with your current setup, you may experience moments when you lose your train of thought and find it hard to stay focused.
Whether you’ve started working from home due to the coronavirus or as part of your freelancing career, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips that can help you stay focused and boost your productivity.
Set up a home office — no matter how small
Working from your bed or living room couch sounds like a dream come true, but if you’ve been doing this for months, it may be why you’re feeling unmotivated and out of focus. Your brain associates the bed/couch with a place for rest, so you won’t reach the same rhythm as working at a desk. Besides, it’s terrible for your spine, so think of a home office as an investment for your health. Don’t worry if you don’t have an extra room – many people don’t. As long as you can find a small corner that can fit a laptop, it’s still better than working in bed.
Structure your day by setting small goals
Working from home gives you more freedom to plan your day and organize your tasks as you see fit, which can be challenging if you’re used to managers doing that for you. It seems crazy at first, but the easiest way to add structure to your day is to break it down into tasks. Depending on how meticulous you are, you can either write down a general game plan or narrow it down to every email or coffee break.
The food you eat influences your health, mood, and productivity levels. Unfortunately, working from home can mess up your eating schedule and diet plan because you wake up later, tend to skip breakfast, nibble on snacks throughout the day — and then when the hunger becomes too distracting, eat an entire takeout meal that sends you straight into a food coma. Remember that your body needs healthy fuel to work well, so try to stick to your meal plans: don’t skip breakfast, take the time to prepare your meals for the next day, and don’t make a habit out of ordering food. If your stomach feels a bit upset after a cheat meal or a meal eaten in a hurry, prebiotics can help restore balance in your microbiome. But remember, supplements aren’t a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, so don’t use them as a quick fix for bad habits!
Get some fresh air
Once you get into the rhythm, you pick up speed, and next thing you know, it’s dark outside. That may be satisfying, but in the long run, looking at the screen for hours can affect your ability to focus. At least two times a day, take a small break and go outside to breathe in some fresh air — it’s been scientifically proven to boost your mood and increase your ability to focus. It’s an all-around great tip whenever you feel overwhelmed by work, one that even indoor souls can benefit from.
Reduce the time spent on social media
Most workplaces restrict access to social media websites on work computers, and their schedule doesn’t allow you to check your phone every hour. At home, that’s a different story. With no one to block your favorite websites and look behind your back, you’re free to check your news feed and reply to messages. That’s a double-edged sword because social media can pull you in with all its distractions and make you procrastinate. If you can’t resist the urge to check Twitter every hour, you can try a browser plugin that restricts selected apps.
Know when to take a break
Contrary to what many employers expected, remote work has led to an increase in productivity. However, this productivity often comes at the cost of burnout because at home, it can be harder to switch off and many people continue working after hours. You shouldn’t feel guilty for being at home and overcompensating. Remote work is still work, so know when to rest. Take breaks throughout the day and make it a habit not to reply to emails after work. You’re not lazy for doing so, and it’s better for your mental health to work at a sustainable pace.