Working From Home? Stay focused and stay away from the biscuits….

We have no choice, we’re working from home.

On a ‘normal ‘ day we’d be skipping with delight at the thought of staying in our slippers and not having to battle the nightmare that is the daily commute.

But this is no ordinary working from home day, because it could be days…or God forbid, weeks.

As necessary as it is (who are we to argue with the experts? – we’ll do as were told), working from home can actually be hard work.

It all sounds great at first but when the novelty wears off, we realise what we’re missing out on things we’ve taken for granted, such as; the banter with our  mates in the office, doing the coffee run, the lunchtime or after work drinks.

It’s even possible that after a while, we’ll miss the meetings….and the boss. Yes really.

This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you are trustworthy and not taking advantage by using your day to do errands or sit around watching Netflix.  

We are creatures of habit and anything that disrupts our daily routine or calls for a change in behaviour will test us to the limit.

When working from home – and in isolation- it’s easy to start sliding down the spiral of despair and popping into the kitchen every few minutes just because we can.

But how can you stay focused?  

Here are my 5 tips:

  1. Clear your desk space

 Whatever surface you’re working on (desk, table, kitchen top), it needs to be clutter free to keep you focused on the job you are there to do.

Specifically the only items on your workspace should be the ones you need to work on THAT day. Move the rest of the stuff away it will be nothing but a distraction.

2. Hit your deadlines by using a timer

You know how it is, you start working on one thing and then something else pops into your inbox that needs doing.

hen your phone buzzes, or the doorbell rings and before you know it, it’s time to put the kettle on.  Again. 

Get smart and challenge yourself with a race against time – by setting the timer on your phone. If you don’t know how long it will take to complete your task, set your timer in 30 minute intervals and you can assess how much you’ve achieved when the alarm goes off.  When you’re being timed, your mind-set is focused on completion before the bell rings and that’s a real winner when you have a deadline to hit.

3. Plan your breaks

 Yes we know the kitchen is just around the corner, but rather than allowing yourself to keep getting up, carefully plan your breaks.

How you plan them is up to you; 10 mins every hour, or an hour ‘for lunch’.

That then, is the time- the only time– when you can check twitter, fall down the facebook/ YouTube ‘black hole’ or scroll through Instagram until your eyes glaze over. 

The key thing here is to remind yourself that you are at work and time spent outside of your allotted break time, is to be used for getting your head down and being productive!

4. Keep a ‘to do’ list

When things come up that you need to do (messages, emails, ongoing work) rather than go off-piste, stick them on your list until you finished the work you are currently doing.

Sort it into priority order: Urgent, important, time critical and general stuff.

Doing this will not only help you stay focused on getting your job done it will keep you organised, in control and stave off any anxiety about work piling up.

5. Manage your head

Ok this final one is the toughie.

You’re sat down at home with all the best intentions of cracking through your work, and your mind starts wandering. It starts with a simple thought and before you know it half an hour has gone and you don’t know how it happened.

The key to managing your thoughts is awareness – the more aware you are of ‘drifting’ the sooner you can correct yourself. Get into the habit and of checking your thoughts and asking yourself this question: ‘are these thoughts helping me to be more productive or are they hindering me?’

Take charge – when you’re working from home, you are the boss. Oh, and stay away from the biscuits. You don’t need them. 

So there you have it, 5 easy tips to help you become productive, efficient and happy (at least for now) to be working from home.


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