Working from home means no commute and ample time for breakfast, but it can be hard to remain motivated and productive. Here are some tips to help you fight distractions and stay on task.
Keep Your Morning Routine
Sure you could sleep in, but if you want to stay focused, it’s better to keep your morning schedule. Rituals like showering, making coffee and putting on your work clothes all help jumpstart your day. A later start makes it harder to stay focused, and you’re more likely to procrastinate.
Work a Little Earlier Than Usual
If you normally begin work at 9 a.m., try starting at your usual commute time. Your workday will be less stressful and during the later hours, you can focus on winding down and prepare for tomorrow.
Make Your Schedule More Specific
At work, your manager enforces your schedule, so it’s easier to stay focused. The opposite is true at home where you’re the one calling the shots. It’s easy to lose track of time, take too many breaks or focus on a single task for too long. So to stay on schedule, make your schedule more specific and map out each hour of your day, detailing specifically what you want to accomplish during that time.
Find Your Best and Worst Hours
Although many people are most productive in the morning, you may not be. That’s okay, too. If your job doesn’t require you to work directly with other people’s schedules, find your own most productive periods and make the most of them. If you’re not sure what your peak hours are, then it’s a good idea to use a weekly log and take notes about how you feel during different time periods. Always try to work when you are at your best.
Create a Habit Loop
Often just getting a project started is the hardest part. To trick yourself into working efficiently, create a habit loop. Eventually, managing tasks quickly become routine. The most efficient pattern is to introduce a cue, a routine and a reward.
For example, you might cue yourself by brewing coffee or tea. Next, your routine is to go to your desk and start working on something. Finally, your reward is enjoying your beverage while you start your work for the day. Finding a routine that perpetuates good habits is an easy way to keep a positive momentum going throughout your day.
Create a Workday Playlist
The right music can help you stay focused and on task. For mindless tasks like creating data entry or compiling reports, pick music that keeps your energized. Podcasts and audiobooks are other options that can teach you something new while you work.
For tasks that require more focused attention, it’s best to choose something without vocals and a steady beat to keep you from getting distracted. Everyone processes music differently, so experiment and find out what works for you.
Anything that disrupts your workflow interferes with your productivity, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Is there something in your surroundings that habitually distracts you? It might be worth investing in some noise canceling headphones or going elsewhere to work instead.
Identify the things that get you off track and actively limit them. Visiting Facebook every five minutes? Block it. Getting bothered by texts from friends? Put your phone away. You can always revisit these things during breaks, just make sure it’s a deliberate decision instead of a habit.
Change Your Scenery
Fight off the boredom of being in the same old environment. Find places you don’t typically go in your day-to-day so you can establish a new space specifically for you to work.
Working effectively without an office doesn’t have to be hard if you take the necessary steps to remain productive. Test our tips out and see for yourself.
I wrote this blog originally for BOCA Communications.