The last few months have seen most of us suddenly working from home. How are you coping with staying focused on your work?
Some of us are used to working at home and already have schedules and routines in place. However, even the most experienced work from home parent probably wouldn’t have added homeschooling into their daily work routine as well. You might have got the working mum balance just right, and then along comes coronavirus and school closures to wreck your well laid plans. Trying to concentrate with noisy kids in the house definitely isn’t easy.
If you’re not used to being home based, you might be finding that adjusting to working from home is taking a bit more effort than you anticipated. Remote working isn’t for everyone, if you’re missing the buzz of an office and being surrounded by a team you may find it hard to focus on work when you’re sat by yourself.
Whatever the reason for it, if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate in your current work from home situation, here are some tips that might just help you to stay focused when you work from home….
Work away from distractions
As any experienced work from home mum will tell you, one of the biggest distractions when you’re trying to work is all the things that need doing around the house. It’s hard to stay focused when you work from home if you’re working from the kitchen table or sofa and can see everything that needs tidying up. It’s a good idea to shut yourself away so you’re not tempted to delay working and do household chores instead.
If you don’t already have a dedicated works pace you might find this blog post useful > Tips to create a home office that perfectly suits your requirements
Get rid of the kids
Not literally, although sometimes it can be tempting! At the moment asking a relative to look after the children while you work isn’t an option, but normally this is a good idea to give you space to focus. If you and your partner are both working from home, can you take the kids in shifts to allow each other some quiet time to work? If you’re by yourself and working from home with kids in the house, can you leave them playing in their rooms for a bit while you get some work done?
Stay off social media
We’ve all been there. You’re ready to start work but think you’ll just have a quick check of Facebook first. Before you know it, it’s half an hour later and you’re still browsing the holiday photos of a school friend you haven’t seen in years. If you want to stay focused when you work from home try having set times to check social media so you can give your work your full attention. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications so you aren’t tempted to quickly check a comment or new post when you hear the beep.
Many people think that freelancers stay in their pyjamas all day, and while that is the beauty of having a work from home job, I think it helps to get dressed. Not necessarily by putting on ‘work clothes’, after all that’s one of the benefits of not working in an office. But, putting on clothes that aren’t PJs or sweatpants can really change your mindset. Plus you’ll be prepared should you have to take an unexpected video call!
When you have a home based job, it’s so tempting to pop out for lunch with friends (though not in this current situation!), do some errands, or enjoy any nice weather. But once you start doing that it’s hard to motivate yourself to work. Let friends and family know what days and times you need to work so they know not to invite you out or phone for a chat during those hours.
Set working hours
The beauty of being working for yourself is the ability to set your own working hours. It’s what every working parent dreams of. But none of us want to still be working late at night, so setting your working hours is a good idea to help make sure you have enough time during the day to get everything done. Starting early rather than around lunchtime will mean you get work out of the way as soon as possible. Calculate how many hours you need to put in each day so you know a realistic start time.
Know what you’re working on
Being organised is super important when you’re practicing flexible working. There’s no one to check up on you or keep you organised. If you know what work needs doing each day you can work out how long you will need to work for. This stops you wasting time trying to remember what you need to do. Create a schedule or to-do list to help keep on top of everything, Trello is my favourite online tool for this.
You might find some of these apps useful in getting yourself organised > 5 essential apps for freelancers to stay organised
Take a break
When you’re busy and ‘in the zone’ it’s easy to suddenly realise it’s already lunchtime and you haven’t had a drink or moved from your desk all morning. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take a break. Get up and move around, do some stretches, and drink some water before getting back to work.
Know your best time to work
When do you do your best work? For most people it’s first thing in the morning but you might find that you work better during the evening. You have the advantage of setting your own hours now so do what works best for you and your family.
Know when to clock off
If you’ve been working all day there’s a good chance that by the evening you’re starting to flag and finding it difficult to give anything your full attention. Plus you’ll be missing out on valuable time with your family. Switch off if you find yourself getting tired, we all need a break from work. Pushing through when you should have finished for the day often just leads to mistakes.
Have some human interaction
Working alone can be one of the hardest parts of freelancing to get used to, especially if you’ve only recently left an office environment. If you get bored on your own try to arrange times to meet up with people. Maybe you can attend local networking events, or have a ‘business meeting’ with other freelancers or entrepreneurs nearby. For times like now when you can’t leave the house, there are lots of online networking events, live webinars, and business groups on Facebook that you can join.
Have the right tools for the job
Slow internet or a laptop that keeps freezing is frustrating and is just going to end up wasting you a lot of time. It’s worth spending some money up front on any equipment or software that will help you to work efficiently without the stresses of having to fix your computer or find someone to do it for you. Not having the company IT Support to pop down and help is one of the hard bits of not being in an office!
How have you been coping with working from home? Are you finding it hard to concentrate on work with all the distractions around you? Hopefully some of these tips will help you to stay focused when you work from home in the future.