Illustration of people working remotely
By Amanda Wallman Apr 21 2020 Blog

Working From Home 101: Focus

If you’re transitioning from working in an office to working remotely, maintaining focus throughout the day may be something you’re struggling with. Never fear—as someone who’s worked remotely for years, I’ve picked up plenty of tips for alleviating this problem!

1. Define your space 

This might be a hard one for those of us with roommates, husbands, wives, children, pets, etc.—but separating your work space from your home space is one of my top tips for maintaining focus. This is an effective way of tricking your brain into associating a certain space with work.

I also tend to clean my workspace in the evening once I’ve completed my day. This allows me to start the next morning with a clean slate. I don’t want to stop anyone from moving locations, especially if you want to get some sunshine—but when you do, make sure it’s a space you can designate to focus on work.

2. Schedule your day in advance 

Each week I spend 30 minutes scheduling out big chunks of my week. Then each evening when I’m planning for the following day, I create a simple to-do list and block out my time with specific activities.

3. Designate breaks 

It’s also helpful for me to schedule out my free time and breaks. It’s important to take 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day before you start a new activity. Our brains take a second to move from one task to the next (hence why multitasking isn’t helpful), so taking a break will allow your brain to reset.

4. Do Not Disturb is your friend!

This one took me a while because I always wanted to be available internally and externally, but the “Do Not Disturb” setting on your phone is indeed your friend. Eliminating unnecessary notifications allows you to truly focus on the task at hand, which will make you more productive.

In my experience, I’m able to complete more tasks when I’m completely focused on one thing at a time. Utilizing one or two of these steps will dramatically improve your focus and efficiency with work.

But enough about what works for me—here’s what a few of my coworkers had to say!

“I find it easier to focus in my home office since I don’t typically have anyone else in my house while I’m working. When I really need to focus and get something done, I’ll close my email rather than have it dinging at me and doing its best to distract me away from what I’m working on.

When I do this, I make a point to check it every 30 mins or so to make sure that I’m not missing anything urgent. Checklists come in handy when I have lots of pending action items.” —Matt Baine

“It’s OK to take a break. If you’re having a mental block or starting to feel nuts—step away from your computer, and give yourself a little reward.”—Holly Maine

“TV is a productivity killer.”—Kelly Wittmann

“I like to set up “zones” for myself when I really need to focus uninterrupted on something and knock it out. It’s something I brought with me from my previous job. If I have 15 prospecting emails to send, I put myself on Do Not Disturb for one hour until they are complete.

You can give your team a heads up that you’re going into “the zone” if you’re worried about not being available to them. If I can plan for these in advance by putting them on my calendar, it keeps me from forgetting or not finding the time.”—Ben Morton

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