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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

Both small businesses and multinational corporations in different parts of the world are rolling out work from home policies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It won’t be an understatement to think this shift will become the norm for several people, given the fact that the novel coronavirus has already reached the pandemic stage, according to WHO.[1]

While a lot of people are used to the system, several others are finding it challenging to learn how to work from home during widespread quarantines. It becomes especially difficult when there are a whole lot of distractions to manage.

If you are one of those people, here are some top distractions that will compete with your productive time:

  • Housework
  • Family and friends
  • Email and Instant Messaging
  • Social Media and Internet Browsing
  • Phone and Texts

How can you avoid these distractions while working from home?

Here are some tips to help you avoid distractions and get more done while working from home.

1. Dedicate a Space for Work

It is highly essential to dedicate a workspace in your home.

Peter Vandendriesse, the founder and CEO of Guestboard.co says:

“While it is easier to sit on a couch while working on your laptop, you can’t get it right with your sitting posture and ergonomics. And because you are closer to the TV, you can become distracted easily.”

So how do you maximize your home office?

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You can set up a double monitor and use a work desk or a standing desk, depending on your work.

Your workspace should be dedicated to working just like your bed is dedicated to sleeping.

2. Isolate Yourself from Social Media

There’s nothing as tempting as social media. You may want to stay up-to-date about the news and what your friends are up to. Try to audit your time, though, and you’ll discover that you’ve probably spent over 5 hours doing that each day.

So how can you get away from this?

Isolate your mobile devices if you don’t have to use the internet, and stick to your laptop. Lori Cheekd, the CEO of Cheekd, recommends using productivity apps like StayFocusd to avoid distractions. Or you can set time restrictions with the Google Chrome extension Limit. Once you have used up the time allocated, the selected websites will be blocked, and you can’t access them for the rest of the day. You can also download the best Android productivity apps and top productivity apps for iPhones .

Another approach is to freeze social media apps on your mobile devices to focus on your work.

3. Dress for Work

According to Andre Fasciola, the CEO of Matcha Kari,

“It is important to have good habits. It can be comfortable sitting in your pajamas, but you cannot be in your professional mindset in your pajamas.”

The focus here is not how you look, but establishing and maintaining a business mindset while you work from home.

You don’t have to wear a pencil skirt or a three-piece suit. Wear what makes you comfortable. Then follow your morning routine.

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It makes a whole lot of sense to wake up in the morning, shower, eat your breakfast, and dress up for success. That alone will create a consciousness of work instead of allowing the day just to run its course while you complete your work in between.

4. Establish Boundaries

It is your responsibility to train your family and friends on how to relate to you and treat your work time.

Why is that important?

A lot of them don’t know you work from home. You need to tell them you are not available for the long lunch or the movie break.

Working from home is often quite advantageous. You are in charge of your schedule, and you end up creating boundaries that work for your specific position.

5. Create Your Schedule

Have a list of tasks you want to complete each day. Then, allocate time to achieve each task.

If you are an ardent follower of to-dos, create one and cross off each task you complete. Don’t forget to allocate break times. That way, you can be sure of a realistic schedule.

According to Kathi Burns of Wikihow,

“A schedule is an effective means of staying focused, productive, and organized. You can experiment with a planner, notebook, or an app to structure your time.”[2]

Track how much time you spend on routine activities in a spreadsheet or notebook. This act can help you to be more productive. For instance, you may be spending 5 hours on social media each day when you could have spent those hours reading.

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Not only that, but schedule your day to reflect your energy. Knock out essential tasks when your energy is high and take care of less important tasks when you are less motivated. For instance, if you feel at your best in the morning, use that time to brainstorm and attend to crucial tasks.

6. Know When to Sign out

One mistake that is common to everyone is that we tend to work too much while trading off other important aspects of our lives.

This means it’s important for you to establish a fixed time and sign out when you feel you are burning out. Maximize your work hours, and enjoy your break to refresh and prepare yourself to clock back in.

7. Plan to Exercise

It is ideal to incorporate some physical exercises into your schedule when working from home.

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get lethargic and forget to get up and get moving. It’s important, then, to schedule in time when you should be exercising.

So what can you do to stay fit and be productive?

Exercise your muscles! You can do this both indoors and outdoors.

It’s not only your muscles that get boosted when you exercise. Physical exercise can boost your brain performance. A workout can keep those endorphins flowing and provide you with a natural burst of energy.

Briton University surveyed 200 employees on a day with or without exercise. Guess what the outcome was?

Employees who exercised scored 21 percent more for a higher concentration on work, 22 percent more for work completion, and 25 percent more for finishing work without unscheduled breaks. Not only that, but they also scored 41 percent for feeling motivated on the job.[3]

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Another survey showed the significance of fitness in the work performance of about 683 workers.[4]

You can’t attain your peak performance while working from home if you are not fit.

So how do you stay fit?

Try yoga, dance, or run in place. You don’t need sophisticated gadgets to exercise; just start with what you have and stay committed.

Bonus: Find Your Focus and Eliminate Distractions

You need to find a spot in your house where your focus is at a peak. It may be indoors or outdoors. When you find that spot, establish your workspace and reduce distractions as much as possible.

Also, highlight your biggest distractors and devise means of eliminating them.

Distraction remains a daunting challenge you will need to overcome when working from home. You cannot discover your focus zone if you don’t highlight your biggest distractors.

While it may be hard to eliminate all distractions, you can reduce them by following these tips:

  • De-clutter your desk and office. Leave only items that are relevant.
  • Hang a ‘Do not disturb!’ sign when you are working on tasks that require optimal focus.
  • Close all browsers and applications that are not relevant to the tasks at hand. Put your phone on airplane mode and reply to that email later.

You can also establish a period when you take care of all these extra activities during the day.

Conclusion

If you are new to working from home, you may encounter challenges while trying to stay productive and focused. However, as you try these tips I’ve shared, you will continue to gain ascendancy over your time and work.

More Tips on Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Anna Auza via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

Procrastination is probably the biggest detriment to our productivity. Conventional wisdom dictates that the best thing you can do is make that procrastination constructive. When you don’t feel like doing one task, usually one that requires a lot of will- or brainpower, you do another, usually less labor-intensive task.

Recently, though, conventional wisdom has been challenged with something Penn State refers to as “pre-crastination.”[1] After doing a series of studies in which students pick up and carry one of two buckets, researchers theorized that many people prefer to take care of difficult tasks sooner rather than later. That theory poses the question of whether this pre-crastination or the more widely acknowledged constructive procrastination is more effective.

Here is a look at whether people should do difficult tasks early or later on to achieve maximum productivity.

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Doing Easy Tasks First

The Pros

One of the hardest parts of working is just getting started. Constructive procrastination eases this hardship, because working on easy tasks requires a smaller mental or physical commitment than if you tackled difficult tasks firsts.

If one of the foremost deterrents to your productivity is simply getting going, it makes a lot of sense to save the difficult tasks for when you’re in more of a groove.

The Cons

If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day. — Mark Twain

On the surface, there don’t seem to necessarily be any disadvantages to doing easy tasks first. However, in Eat That Frog, the book writeen by Brian Tracy challenges that.

Based on the above quote from Mark Twain, Eat That Frog encourages avoiding procrastination, even if that procrastination is constructive. Tracy wants you to “eat that frog,” i.e. do your difficult tasks quickly because the longer it’s on your plate, the harder it will become to do the thing you’re dreading. If you have a habit of dreading things, Eat That Frog makes a solid argument to hold off on your easy tasks until later in the day.

Doing Difficult Tasks First

The Pros

Brian Tracy postulates in Eat That Frog that if you do your difficult tasks first, your other tasks won’t seem so bad. After all, after you eat a frog, even something unappetizing will seem downright delectable.

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Tracy also recommends that, if you have to eat two frogs, you should eat the uglier one first. The metaphor is a very easy way to get your head around the new concept of pre-crastination.

If all of your tasks seem somewhat torturous to you, you might be able to ease the pain by getting rid of the ugliest “toads” as quickly as you can.

The Cons

The primary disadvantage of doing your difficult tasks first is probably that it will make it especially hard to get started on your workday.

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A lot of people aren’t exactly at their peak performance mode when they enter the office. They need to ease into the workday, maybe have a cup or two of coffee to stimulate them.

If that’s you, doing your most difficult tasks first would probably be a costly mistake. Hold off on “eating those frogs” until you have the willpower and fortitude to choke them down.

Conclusion

Should you do easy or difficult tasks first? It seems like a cop-out to say that it depends on the person, but sometimes that’s the honest answer, and that is definitely the case here.

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Hopefully this article helps inform you of what type of worker you are, offering clues to whether you fall into the constructive procrastination or pre-crastination camps. Good luck on your pursuit of maximum productivity!

More Tips for Beating Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Courtney Dirks via flickr.com

Reference

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