Working from home can be wonderful for productivity. In fact, studies show that people who work from home get more tasks done on average than people who schlep into the office. However, there are also a few challenges to staying focused. Here are three tips for staying focused:
- Dirty dishes (or laundry, or the lawn) can wait until you’re off work. Would you rush out of a meeting saying, “oh gosh, the sink is full of dirty dishes, I need to get home and handle that?” Probably not. But the siren call of mundane household charms to avoid whatever you’re working on at the moment can be awfully hard to resist. Don’t allow household tasks to get in the way of your work. If, like me, you absolutely HAVE to have the dishes done or the laundry folded before your spouse gets home, schedule the time like any other task on your to-do list, and do it when you have time. Stop using it as an excuse not to get the Jackson file updated like you said you would.
- Place your phone out of reach. Seriously. Using our phones is the most common source of interruptions to our day. And before you say, “well I need it for email and work texts,” consider using your laptop or a second device for work, so you won’t be constantly interrupted. If that’s not an option, turn off the notifications (especially dings, rings and bleeps) until you’re finished whatever you’re working on. I keep my phone physically out of reach so that when I’m tempted to check it “just in case,” I actually have to move far enough to make me think about it.
- Turn off the TV or Radio just like at “real work.” Most of us don’t have televisions blasting all the time in our cubicle at work, nor can we play the radio at full blast. I’m not saying you can’t use music to set the tone or help you focus when you’re working, but to have those devices going all day will distract you somehow. If you have a TV in the room you use as a workspace, don’t turn it on unless you have a scheduled break.
Maintaining focus isn’t easy at the best of times, and the inability to separate your home life from work is one of the leading focus-breakers. For more information on the maintaining attention when working from home, check out Maximizing Your Productivity as a Remote Employee. You’ll learn secrets and practical techniques for effectively managing your time and efforts as a remote employee.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.