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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 August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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