Your Home Office
“We all get distracted, it’s how we manage this that counts”
To start with, think about what you like best about working from home? Maybe it’s more sleep in the morning or being able to get involved with daily family activities? What have you enjoyed doing and what really matters to you? Are you now having lunch together or have you recognised that your partner really needs you to be around for home schooling when they take work calls in the afternoon? So think about what is non-negotiable in your day and what you don’t want to miss out on. Book these in to your routine and remember this is the trade off for other parts of your working day.
Secondly, we all get distracted, it’s how you manage it that counts. We get interrupted by others at home, lose focus, get frustrated or anxious as we try to keep on top of work or finish projects.
Start with the physical space and set-up of your work area to reduce distractions. Be deliberate in your choice of work space. Don’t underestimate the effect a good home working environment has on your concentration and well being. Keep an area tidy, studies show a mess reduces our ability to focus on a task (Sabine Kastner 2015).
Then think about those you share your house with. Discuss your working hours together, consider what everyone needs. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you are off work. This might not always translate to younger members of the family but explain when and what you will do together daily, and talk to them about what you do in your work time.
Are you looking after yourself outside of work? If you are physically and mentally well then this will show in your work. Don’t allow good habits to slip while at home. It will be better for you and your work long-term. Eat your 5 a day, rest, divide work and relaxation clearly. Don’t work late and over time, which is really easy to do, allowing a recharge and rest will aid problem solving and decision making. A Stanford study showed longer hours didn’t increase productivity (John Pencaval, 2014).
And lastly, and most importantly, ask yourself when you are most productive? Noticing your own habits and natural tendencies and working with them is key to maximising your productivity. Try different things to find out what works for you: start early, try exercise before work, or swap some work hours to the evening when your children are in bed. It’s time to get creative and really work out how best you work and make the most of it. Don’t forget to communicate any changes you are trying with your colleagues and those you live with. Being flexible and open will help others help you. You being more productive is better for your company or colleagues in the long-term, so ask them to help you. For more support find an accountability partner, a person you trust, to check in with regularly regarding your to do list. You can help keep each other on track. Just by vocalising what you want to do and what you haven’t done, to someone else, will focus your actions.
Distracted? Not getting your to-do list done?
- Use Pomodoro timer*
- Dress up for your day
- Leave your phone away from you
- Choose 3 things you need to get done today
- Declutter your desk/workspace
- Do one thing a day which aids your mental health
* breaking tasks into easy to achieve, focused slots, Pomofocus
For more: What productive people do to stop getting distracted (3-minute read)