Having trouble figuring out how to stay focused while working from home? I definitely get it. If you’re new to working from home or maybe just trying to get some work done on your side hustle on the weekend, then you know how hard it can be to simply focus on the task at hand.
Why is that?
It’s all about how our brains have connected specific actions with specific environmental cues (i.e. we work at the office dressed a certain way around certain people, and we relax at home in our pjs with our kids around).
If you’ve been working a 9-5 out of the home for a while, then you’re very used to working at work, and then there’s a switch when you leave work for the day and head home. At home, your focus shifts to all things family and home-related.
Then you add on the fact that kids make a lot of noise and tend to gravitate toward you every time you sit down to work (it’s like a special power they have).
I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tools and techniques that have worked wonders for me.
Tips and Tools for Staying Focused While Working From Home
Using a variety of tools, such as specialized apps, can really help you stay focused on working. As a mom entrepreneur (with an ADHD brain), here I’ll be sharing tips that have helped me stay focused while working from home even with my son around.
This is a great app that basically helps you do the Pomodoro technique. Essentially, you work in cycles of 25 minutes then a 5 minute break. The key is to pick ONE task to focus on during the 25 minute work time.
Now at first, I didn’t want to use the app. I figured I’d just set a timer, but that didn’t have the same effect for me. The app essentially turns your phone into a giant timer and seeing it count down like that keeps me accountable. Then when the work time is up, it’ll make a different sound to indicate break and turn blue.
For me personally, I’ve found that using this has helped increase my productivity a lot. Not only do I actually focus a lot better than I did, but I was able to realize how long tasks are taking me (some shouldn’t take as long as I was taking) and how much I really get distracted (which is a lot).
Do you ever find yourself sitting down to work and suddenly find yourself browsing Facebook? It’s like it sucks you in somehow. Well, that’s where the Focus Mode Chrome extension comes in.
Basically, you input the websites that you find yourself getting distracted by and then activate it. If you try to go to one of those sites, the words “Return to work” comes up on the screen.
Sad to say that I’ve had to use this a lot. Again, it’s one of those things that reveals just how many times our minds wander (or is that just me?).
I’m definitely a paper planner kind of person, but I also have a bazillion ideas for projects I want to work on at some point. What inevitably happens is I start working on one thing and then suddenly recall this other project I keep meaning to do. So I shift gears to the other project so I don’t forget and so on.
As you can see, this won’t get me anywhere fast.
To help with this, I started using Trello. It’s a free digital planning system that’s based on the card system of organizing.
Basically, it’s like virtual sticky notes you can put different ideas on. Trello also has an app so it’s super convenient.
Here’s how I use it to help me focus.
I have an “ongoing projects” board that holds all my random ideas and then I have a board called “working on now” that I put a few of these projects on. That way I can visually see which projects are important right now and also see that the others aren’t forgotten. They’re just put on hold until it’s their time.
Schedule Everything Out
When working from home, sitting down to work isn’t so easy. You’ve got a bunch of other things around you that you might feel guilty for not doing, like the dishes or playing with your kids.
This is where a schedule comes in.
You wouldn’t think that having a super-specific schedule would make that much of a difference, but it definitely does. Instead of having vague “work” time, be really specific with your tasks in your workday.
This will ensure that you’ve got something specific to focus on during each time block of your day-including family.
Knowing that you’ve got a specific time set aside for family time or cleaning means that you’ll have a much easier time focusing on work during “work time”. This kind of routine is crucial to being more focused when it’s time to work.
This plays off the last tip. Knowing that you’ve got specific things blocked out in your schedule means you can give yourself permission to focus on the task at hand.
Instead of feeling guilty for working while your kids are playing, recognize that a) you have time to play with them later so you know it’s going to happen and b) you’re working from home which is better than not being near them at all.
Same goes for when you’re spending time with your kids.
Don’t feel guilty for not getting more work done instead of hanging out with your family. Keep tabs on your thoughts and reel them back in when you find they start to drift into these guilt zones.
A Quiet Place Designated for Working (Optional but ideal)
With the kids running around and your spouse at home, this might not be a real option. BUT if you can swing it, then definitely go for it.
Right now, I’m working in my basement beside the laundry room while my husband watches our son. Is it nice and cozy here? Nope, but it’s quiet. I get that beggars can’t be choosers but if you can help it, don’t choose to work somewhere where you usually have fun. Your brain is going to have an even harder time focusing if you’re staring at the comfy chair you love to watch Netflix from.
There are my 6 tips and tools to help you focus more while working from home. It’s not always easy working from home, but using these tips can really help you adjust quicker and train your brain to work in these new conditions.
I know this is easier said than done, but try not to stress over the lack of focus. It’ll just make it harder to focus and you’ll be in a vicious cycle. Implement even a few of these methods I’ve shared and you’ll be well on your way to being more focused and getting more done in your day.
I’d love to hear how these go for you or if you have other tips for how to stay focused. Share them in the comments below.
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