The upside—and downside—of remote work
Remote work is on the rise—many companies nowadays are going remotely, not temporarily, but permanently. Not only are employers seeing the benefits of remote work, but employees are finding it more enjoyable to work from the comfort of their own homes. Workers are pushing managers and higher-ups to consider the possibility of working full-time remotely, many of them stating it increases their engagement, offers them more flexibility, and finally, helps them feel more focused.
But of course, for a lot of people, achieving focus can be much more difficult when there are kids running around, a TV showing you’re dying to watch, social obligations, a phone that constantly rings, and so many other distractions.
Working from home doesn’t have to be difficult, and learning to focus despite such distractions is both rewarding and easily attainable when done correctly. Here are a few tips or “hacks” you can apply right this second to achieve better focus.
The four things you can do to improve your focus at home
#1 Do the most important tasks when you’re most productive
Some of us feel more productive in the morning, while others feel more engaged just a few hours before the workday ends. Whenever you feel most productive, do the things that are on the very top of your to-do list in that time slot.
If there’s something important you’ve been putting off for days now or a deadline you need to meet, make sure you do these tasks during those times when you feel most productive. Let’s say your productivity levels don’t spike until around 12 pm. Schedule the most taxing, most important tasks you need to complete at around noon and leave the other, less energy-consuming tasks for when you’re feeling least productive throughout the day.
Keep a separate list of both the more difficult tasks and the easier tasks so that you can switch things up a bit during the workday: maybe you’ll want to take a break from arduous tasks and do the less challenging tasks for a while until you get your energy back up.
#2 Have a designated work area
Many remote workers boast the fact that they work in their pajamas while lying down in their beds. It sounds tempting, but you’re struggling to focus and get work done, then finding a place other than your couch to do your job will work best for you. If you want to increase your productivity and focus at home, you’ll want to get yourself in a “working mood.”
Find a place or corner in your home that you can call “your office” and work there as though you’re on-site and working at the office. If you can’t find a place to work at your own home, going to a nearby coffee house can become “your office,” and in turn, help improve your focus.
#3 Don’t make your to-do list way too long
Having a long list of things to do for the day can be discouraging, and oftentimes, exhausting to look at.
Instead of having a traditional “to-do list” how about creating a numbered “priority list”? Write down the top three tasks you need to complete for that day that you can’t delay any further and will make you feel accomplished by the end of the day. Then afterward, list the things that you would do if you had extra time on your hands once you’ve gone through your top three. Your “top three” need to be tasks that will make you feel accomplished by the end of the workday and get you closer to your goals. They can also be tasks you need to complete for a project deadline or an urgent matter that can’t be delayed any further.
#4 Remember: You’re “working from home” not “staying at home”
These are two distinct concepts, but it’s no surprise that people mistake one for the other—there will be people from your own social circle who will assume that you working from home automatically means you have plenty of free time on your hands. Because of this, you’ll gradually see your list of responsibilities growing bigger and bigger by the week. This is why you should learn to set boundaries with others.
One way to do this is to set fixed working hours, that way your family and friends will know that you’ll be completely occupied during that time. If you have things to attend to throughout the day, keep yourself in check by setting a time limit for each errand. Tell yourself that you’ll give yourself fifteen minutes to go to the nearest supermarket, grab a few grocery items, and then come back. Make it clear to family members living with you exactly what it is you can and can’t do and how much time you’re willing to give to them so that you don’t lose your focus.
Don’t forget to take a break when you need to
The World Health Organization (a.k.a WHO) identifies “burnout” as an actual psychological condition that could affect your productivity, your focus, and your level of engagement. Sometimes, all it takes to improve your focus is to take a few more breaks than you did before. Something as simple as taking a five to ten-minute break every hour or so can surprisingly do wonders for your productivity.