Are you struggling to stay engaged when working from home? Here's 10 tips to help.
When you work at a traditional office, your top concern related to distraction might be your co-workers. And while working from home comes with plenty of benefits, the biggest block to productivity is often your own habits.
When you’re your own boss, there’s no one there to watch you or check-in and make sure you’re staying on task. This factor can make it easy to lose accountability if you get distracted.
Also, when you aren’t required to get fully dressed for work, it can be harder to get into a focused frame of mind. Below, I’ll cover my top tips for staying engaged in your home office.
1. Work in the Same Place Each Time
Creating your own home office to work in is essential for staying focused and on-task. Trying to work on the couch or sitting in bed can be a battle because those are the areas you associate with resting. Choosing a specific room, corner, or space to work in can take care of this issue.
If you still can’t focus after choosing a spot in your home, you may need to get out of the house when you’re working.
2. Start Early in the Day
When you work in a more traditional setting, the process of traveling to work gives you enough time to wake up and prepare to work.
As a remote worker, however, this transition can be rougher. One tip for getting around this is simply getting to work as early as you can in the day. The sooner you start being productive, the likelier the rest of your day is to have a productive momentum.
3. Use Your Calendar and Alerts
When you’re your own boss, you’re responsible for motivating yourself. Without a manager stopping by to check on you or meetings and scheduled breaks to give your day some structure, it’s easy to lose focus. To fix this issue, decide which tasks you need to complete during your day and specify when.
You can use your online calendar, create reminders, and use your notepad (a literal notebook or on your computer) for notes. Another option is setting alarms on your phone that remind you when to start work, take breaks, or finish for the day.
4. Act Like You’re Preparing for a Regular Job
Just because you no longer have to go into an office away from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still prepare for work in a similar way. The mental association you make with getting ready to be productive still matters.
For example, trying to focus on work in your pajamas will be harder than it would if you dressed in professional clothes. Wake up at a specific time every morning and act as though you’re going into an office.
5. Be Preemptive with Distractions
There are countless distractions that can throw you off task when you’re a remote worker. A great first step for dealing with this is installing an application on your computer that blocks distracting sites. This will help you avoid procrastination and concentrate on the task at hand.
You can also use an incognito browser so that your login info isn’t saved, as stored passwords make it more tempting to browse social media. Another step for preemptively blocking distractions is keeping your phone in the other room while you work.
6. Use Music to Your Advantage
You can use music to help you focus on tasks in your home office. If you’re rushing to complete a project, something upbeat and repetitive can help you get in the zone. If you’re stressing out about something, playing a calming track in the background can assist you.
Many people will focus better if they listen to music without vocals as they work since lyrics can be a bit too distracting for some.
7. Make Sure You Take Breaks
As a remote worker, your whole day can end up bleeding together, meaning it’s hard to tell between leisure and working time. Also, it’s easy to get distracted when you work from home, so you might be tempted to avoid taking any breaks at all.
However, letting your brain take regular rests is essential for staying on task for the entirety of your workday. Instead of clicking around on Reddit or watching YouTube videos, try to walk away from your desk. Go outside and get some fresh air or take a walk around your neighborhood.
8. Plan Your Meals for the Day
Food is a huge potential distraction when you work in a home office. You might be tempted to step away from your desk a little too often to get a snack. However, these moments away from your work can add up fast, and before you know it, you’ve wasted a few hours.
You can plan for this by cooking your meals for your workday the night before. Then, you can designate specific times you’ll take breaks from work to eat lunch or a snack.
9. Choose What Time You’ll Stop Working for the Day
While it certainly comes with plenty of benefits, working from home does make establishing a work-life balance harder. Try deciding on a specific time each day that you’ll finish up your work tasks.
Set an alarm or keep a clock by your desk so that you remember to stop at that time. This doesn’t have to be a hard and fast rule, but it can help you make the most of your time.
10. Remember to Engage with Other People
Working at home can be isolating, especially if you live alone. You can mitigate this by meeting with a friend for lunch during the day or giving a friend a call during your break.
Just because you’re a remote worker doesn’t mean you have to keep to yourself. Speaking with other people can boost your morale and help you stay focused when you return to work.
Staying engaged when you work from home is a challenge, but you can definitely do it. Try out some of the tips above and it will impact your productivity for the better.