As a writer, I am more than familiar with the challenges associated with finding out how to stay focused when working from home. First, there is a little problem called ‘Netflix.’ This seemingly innocent piece of tech that streams from my Xbox stole hours of my working life when I discovered Breaking Bad. It was quite tragic. Then there are the two small people I like to refer to as ‘my children.’ While they are tiny, they do demand a lot of food, water, and general attention. In all seriousness, finding out how to stay focused when working from home has been challenging, but not impossible.
1. Switch off Social Media
One minute you are checking what’s going on via your Facebook home feed, the next you have begun scrolling through the life story of your best friend’s aunt’s neighbor. Trust me, I’ve been there—all too often. There was once many an hour when I tried to use social media to find out how to stay focused when working from home. Eventually I realised that this just led to me avidly reading Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. In the future, check your accounts in the morning, then don’t return until you have shifted some serious work.
2. Find a Personal Space
Okay, a hypocrite klaxon is coming with this one. I like to squat on my sofa and let debris build up around me. Once I established an office in my bedroom—it really worked. However, for consistency’s sake I stay downstairs on my super comfy sofa. This is because of the small people. When I do have time to sit upstairs, I will try, and this invariably leads to me getting more work done.
3. Change It up a Little
One dreadful day I found myself writing 125 small product descriptions. Sound okay? Well, those product descriptions were about the same type of pool filter bolt, but in different sizes. Suddenly that 125 seemed like 1250000. If you have several projects, split them out evenly at the beginning of the week. With variation comes a happier attitude, which means you are less likely to procrastinate.
4. Eat at Regular Intervals
Once I had the smart idea of powering through the morning, taking a one-hour lunch break, and then working through until dinner. This worked for all of about three days. Eventually I found myself lagging halfway through the morning. If you don’t take a break to eat and drink every so often, you’re just going to burn out. Eventually you’ll be all sleepy and you’ll return to the comforting world of social media stalking. Or maybe that’s just me.
5. Turn off the TV
Back when I was completely unwilling to step out of my comfort zone as far as TV was concerned, Netflix wasn’t a problem for me. Then I heard about this little thing called Breaking Bad. Before I knew it, I was knee deep in Walt, Jesse and Skyler’s dramas. I have since realised that I cannot manage background noise television, as I am an out and out addict. While you are working, keep screen time to a minimum.
6. Don’t Push through Frustration
From clients to technical glitches, the wonderful world of working from home comes with some truly novel frustrations. When those charming clients are being their lovely selves, step away from the laptop and breathe. Being English, I like to drink tea. Occasionally I do that going outside thing, but only when the rain isn’t threatening to drown me. Regardless of what you do, don’t try to ignore your frustrations. You’ll only get annoyed every 10-seconds, so go off and calm down somewhere.
7. Set Goals and Measure Them
The most irritating thing about freelancing is that everything comes through in little installments. There’s no juicy check at the end of each month. For me, there is a flash of cash into Paypal every couple of days. That’s nice, but when you’re not seeing goals and progress you can soon get distracted. Prevent this by using a ticker of sorts, or setting a financial goal and removing the price of each project you complete off it.
Okay, so all of us are going to get distracted at some point. We’re only human after all! However, if your day is more procrastination than productivity, you may as well not be working in the first place. If you have some great anti-distraction tips, feel free to share them!