8 Ways to Stay Focused While Working From Home
The last two to three years have seen a surge in companies offering remote work opportunities to their employees. While the pandemic triggered it, most employees have started demanding WFH from their companies. Many organizations have also recognized that remote work has fewer overheads and that productivity is almost consistent or, in some cases, better than in-office work.
Compared to in-office work, remote work offers more flexibility and work/life balance to employees. Most surveys have shown that employees prefer completely remote or hybrid work.
But remote work can be challenging in some aspects. Some employees have found it difficult to focus on their work, surrounded by distractions in their homes.
Here are eight effective ways to stay focused while working from home.
Building a steady routine is essential to stay focused. While there are no pressures of going to the office or being stuck in rush hour traffic, having a regular schedule is necessary when working from home.
While we cannot afford a very tight schedule, we must set times to wake up, work out, start working, and have meals. We must create a daily plan that includes our everyday tasks and the breaks in between and ensure that we have enough energy throughout the day.
Without a routine, we'll be making ad-hoc plans throughout the day. When we're in the middle of some work, our minds will wander toward our pending tasks or activities. We'll also find it challenging to manage our energy levels throughout the day. If we don't go to sleep at regular times, we may feel tired throughout the day.
But when we build a schedule, we're fine-tuning our biological clock. We're giving our bodies advance notice of our activities so that they can plan their energy levels. We can fall asleep more quickly; our body understands and keeps us awake when it's time to work.
A steady routine ensures we can stay focused throughout the day.
In many situations, when we start our day, we sit in front of our laptops and start doing the first thing that comes to our minds. This approach is straightforward and takes little effort, but it can distract us throughout the day. At the end of the day, we may need more time or energy for the most critical tasks. You may also find that you're unable to reach your long-term goals.
But by planning your day, you'll have more energy for your tasks.
Before you start your work day:
- Take a look at all of your pending tasks.
- Write down the estimated time it will take you to complete those them.
- Prioritize them based on their importance, their deadlines, and whether other tasks depend on them.
Based on this, figure out the tasks you want to tackle and the order in which you want to finish them. Make sure you allocate enough time for breaks and take care of yourself.
Once you have a solid plan, you'll notice that it's much easier to go through your day. You will be less distracted, and you'll be completing all of your essential tasks.
One of the biggest roadblocks to productivity is probably messages and calls from your colleagues. They can take you out of your 'zone' and reduce productivity. Once you're disturbed, it will be a while before you can entirely focus back on your tasks.
Asynchronous communication is a method or approach to communication that lets you ignore messages and focus on the task at hand. Once you finish your tasks, you can check your messages.
The approach is fairly easy to understand. It's mostly about sticking to asynchronous modes of communication. They are the communication channels that don't require all the participants to be available simultaneously. For instance, if you're talking to someone directly, you need to listen to what they're saying and give back instant replies. The same is true when you're in a Zoom meeting or chatting with someone over instant messaging apps.
But when you're emailing someone, both participants can be available at different times. Both of them can reply at their own pace.
To apply asynchronous communication to your workplace, treat every message on instant communication platforms like an email. Make sure that all messages have complete information for the other person to send a reply, and don't expect the other person to reply instantly.
If a meeting can be an email, ensure it is, but if it can't be, schedule it in advance. Reserve calls only for emergencies.
The human brain can only focus for a limited duration, no matter what we try. After a point, our mind will wander to other things. But by appreciating this fact, we can keep our minds in the sweet spot and stay focused. This is what the Pomodoro technique does.
The Pomodoro technique is a productivity method designed to help keep our minds at peak productivity levels. The technique is fairly simple; work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. After the break, start working for 25 minutes and take another break. After four 30-minute cycles like this, take a more extended break for thirty minutes.
While you can use many apps and tools to implement this technique, practitioners suggest a low-tech approach. That's one of the advantages of this technique; just a kitchen timer and a to-do list are all you need to implement this technique.
The Pomodoro technique appreciates our minds' limitations. The method understands that as much as we like to claim otherwise, we can't focus on something for hours without getting distracted by other things.
Task management tools can help you manage your activities and tasks with the least effort. These tools ensure you have the time and energy to complete your tasks on time.
When you have a lot of tasks to handle and keep all of that in your head, you won't be able to focus on the task at hand. You'll constantly be thinking about what to do next and how to finish your next week's tasks. With the help of a task management tool like MagicTask, you can create a second brain and reduce your cognitive load.
With MagicTask, you can create multiple workspaces to collaborate with different groups of people. If you need help from someone else, you can assign tasks to them, set deadlines and due dates, and describe what you want.
The goal of this approach is to create more cognitive space for yourself. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your tasks, using a task management tool can help you. You can also use the GTD or the Getting Things Done method to reduce your cognitive load and give you more energy to focus on your tasks.
It may be tempting to skip your meals or go to bed later to catch up on some extra work or complete some assignments. But while it may give you results in the short term, it will affect your productivity in the long run.
If you're not physically healthy, it will also reflect on your mental health. You may have noticed that you're more irritable or anxious when you have a fever or a bad cold. If you pay attention, you can also see yourself unable to focus on the task when you're hungry or sleep-deprived.
Focusing well when you work from home ensures you're physically well. Invest in your health by attending the gym regularly or engaging in physical activity.
Make sure that you have your meals on time. Stay hydrated throughout your work day and take regular breaks. If your work requires you to sit in front of a laptop all day long, make sure you walk around now and then and stretch your legs.
Sleep is another crucial factor affecting your ability to focus on different tasks. If you're sleep-deprived, you may nod off now and then, and even if you force yourself to stay awake, you won't be able to focus. To prevent this, ensure you get enough sleep and have a regular sleep cycle.
There are many different ways in which a home office can help you focus. For starters, it gives you all the space to organize the tools you need carefully. You can set up your laptop, phone, keyboards, notepads, and everything else you need at arm's length.
Once you've set it up, you won't have to run around the house looking for your headphones or notepad when you want to jump into a meeting or get started on the day's tasks.
A home office will also train your mind to jump into 'work' mode and prepare you to focus on your tasks. If you work all over your house — at the kitchen table or on the balcony — you'll find that it will take longer to focus when you sit down to work. This is why working in your bed is a bad idea.
By creating a designated home office space, you can start focusing on your daily tasks when you sit down. You won't have to keep fidgeting until you find a comfortable seating position, you won't have to run around looking for your tools, and you won't have to create a space every time you sit down to work.
The boundaries between work and life often get blurred when you're working from home. You'll be forced to take on tasks from your personal life when logged into work and take extra time to complete your tasks from your job or business.
But you'll burn out quickly without a proper work/life balance. You'll find yourself unable to disengage from work even after you've logged out. Even when you're having dinner or going out with your family, you may think or talk about business. This can put a strain on your relationships and your mental health. And you won't be able to focus on your tasks — from your personal or professional lives.
To improve your focus while working from home:
- Create a proper work/life balance.
- Make sure you log off from work on time and that overtime is not the norm.
- In your workplace, make it clear that you won't be available after your hours unless it's an emergency.
With a good work/life balance, you'll have more energy throughout the day. You can focus on your tasks and complete them without draining yourself.
MagicTask is a task management platform designed to help users stay focused on their assignments. Users can remain motivated throughout their workday with its exciting themes and gamified approach.
It also offers extensive collaboration opportunities for its users and helps them create an efficient plan to tackle their tasks.
The platform also has a dedicated 'My Focus' section to reduce your cognitive load as you go through your day; you can just pick your tasks without spending a lot of time thinking.
Check out MagicTask to manage your projects and tasks and focus better on them.