Work-from-home tips to stay focused, inspired and productive
Many employees have discovered numerous advantages from working at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, but that does not mean we should ignore the challenges. To get the best from your home working situation, here are some tips to enhance your focus and productivity.
While remote work has a host of advantages, it is certainly not without challenges. For some remote work may feel strange, as they may feel isolated and unproductive in their home office environment. Keeping motivated and focused can also be difficult for workers not used to working outside the office.
These challenges are far from impossible to overcome, however. In fact, with a few simple adjustments, you can create a remote working environment that improves self motivation and helps with staying positive. Discover some inspirational work from home tips below.
How to work from home and stay focused
Staying focused can be tricky when working alongside partners, kids, and pets, but by creating and following a few simple rituals, you can thrive in your home office setup. If you want to learn how to be more productive, give these tips a shot.
1. Make your workspace spark joy
It’s crucial to build a workspace where you not only feel comfortable but also inspired.
Firstly, position your desk to take advantage of good natural light and ideally close to a window to ensure a flow of fresh air.
To avoid muscle strain and tension, leverage ergonomic designs with your set-up: Invest in a good office chair and adjust it to your natural posture; make sure you are not straining to see your screen.
If you are working from a laptop, a larger monitor can help reduce eye strain.
Make it a ritual to tidy your workspace – you don’t want to drown in post-its! Removing any clutter can help you stay focused.
2. Find the sweet spot for your work/life balance
There’s nothing nicer than being surrounded by loved ones at home, but in order to stay focused and productive, you need to establish some boundaries. Discuss your working hours and your need for space with the people sharing your home, but be sure to plan in breaks to spend with your family.
3. Stay zen by minimising distractions
Everyone gets distracted at times – and that’s ok! Eliminating distractions completely is unrealistic, but learning to minimise them is totally doable. The key is understanding what usually distracts you.
For many of us, its mobile phone and social media notifications. One tip for avoiding mobile phone distractions is to simply leave the device in another room. If you do need to be by your phone, take a bit of time to turn off non-essential notifications in your app settings or set up a do not disturb mode where only important calls and notifications trigger an alert.
There are also plenty of apps out in the market that will help you block distracting websites and applications so you can focus on the task at hand.
4. Break up tasks into sprints
Large tasks can be daunting in any work environment. One simple but effective productivity hack is to break big tasks down into smaller ones and set a manageable deadline for each one. Various apps have milestone functions such as Trello checklists which are great for this. If a subtask will take longer than half an hour, try breaking up the task into 30-minute sprints.
It’s much easier to power through these subtasks with regular breaks than fixate on the larger project. Find some more helpful tips in our blog post about productivity techniques.
5. Stick to your working hours
In a home office environment, work and personal life can blend into one. That makes it important to set a time for starting, pausing and ending the workday. Don’t plan any meeting or tasks outside the working hours you define. A regular rhythm can help the working week go a little quicker and boost your focus.
6. Give mindfulness breaks a try
Practices like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness exercises have been shown to boost concentration levels. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worth a try. If you are unsure how to get started, there are plenty of great beginner’s tutorials on YouTube and a whole host of meditation/mindfulness apps that walk you through step by step. 10-minutes sessions are typically enough to have an effect, which makes it perfect for a small break from work. Afterwards, you may find yourself refreshed and ready to go.
Become a master of self-motivation
While some people love working alone, others may find it difficult to self-motivate. The truth is, we all suffer from dips in motivation and that’s fine. What’s important is how you prepare to minimise them. Follow these work from home tips to stay motivated.
1. Make team calls a source of motivation
We’ve all been on a team call that we couldn’t wait to end. Endlessly listing daily business is not going to inspire anyone, and for remote teams, this is a real wasted opportunity. Make sure part of the call is dedicated to checking in with team members to see how they are doing. Not how work is going, but how they are feeling. Take the first three to five minutes of the start of each team call to engage in a little light conversation - it can really work wonders for team spirit and company culture.
2. Plan rewards into your day
If you set mini-goals, as outlined in the previous section, then reward yourself when you achieve them. This cycle of setting goals and earning rewards is a really sustainable way of boosting long-term motivation. Choose something that puts a smile on your face – anything from chocolate to a short walk, or even having a dance to your favourite 80s ballad!
3. Manage your energy levels with breaks
Breaks are a time to not think about work, so try to avoid checking work emails and notifications. Instead, using the time to do something that recharges your batteries can boost overall productivity. Get outside for a walk or run to clear your mind, or spend time chatting with family members. If you find yourself taking fewer breaks then you planned on, try adding them to your calendar.
Keeping the glass half full
Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial for remote work. It can boost your mood, motivation, productivity and your general happiness. The following work from home tips can help you build self-care into your workday, which is key to staying positive.
1. Create rituals
Rituals are little traditions that we do on a regular basis. This can be something as simple as family dinner at the end of the working week, treating yourself to a glass of wine, or a video call with family members. By building rituals, you subconsciously create things you look forward to.
2. Minimise stress, maximize decompression time
After a stressful day, we need to decompress. Consider creating technology no-go zones. By avoiding phone notifications or emails after work, you allow yourself time to truly relax. This helps the brain recover and avoid overstimulation. Giving yourself this 'me-time' can improve your sleep and help you feel refreshed in the morning.
3. Gratitude exercises
Gratitude exercises help you be mindful of what you are thankful for. The idea is that actively thinking about these things can boost your positivity. One simple exercise is to simply write down three things you are thankful for each morning, but there are many variations – experiment and find what works for you. You may be surprised by the mood boost it gives you.
4. Manage those munchies
It's easy to get the munchies when you are working from home, but caffeine, processed sugars and fast food can cause energy spikes and crashes. Swap out the coffee for herbal tea and fast food for healthier snacks. Also try and plan some good old home cooking. If you feel you don’t have time to cook during the working week, try preparing a bit of extra food at the weekend – it’s a great family activity and having food prepared keeps the munchies at bay. Another great tip is to throw a meal in the slow cooker. That way by the time you finish work your food will be ready. This takes the pressure out of cooking and also gives you something tasty to look forward to.
Advantages of working from home
Working from home has many advantages. Here are just a few of them:
- No commuting time: you can save hours every week by not having to commute. This is extra quality time you can spend with your loved ones.
- More autonomy: remote work allows you to plan your time how you want. This increases your autonomy and encourages you to play an active role in project management.
- Greater flexibility: set up your work environment exactly to your taste. Even relocation is usually feasible as a remote worker.
- Better work/life balance: often working from home means more proximity to loved ones, which is a huge plus, but you need to set boundaries to remain productive.
To reap these and many other benefits remote work offers, it’s important to keep focused, motivated and positive.
Make small adjustments to master remote working
Done right, working from home comes with some great advantages, but it can still pose challenges for teams and individuals. Follow the work from home tips outlined above to optimise your remote work set up, stay productive and, above all, happy.
For more great resources check out our series of practical strategies for dealing with crises. If you’d like more inspiration about how to take care of your personal wellbeing, check out our collection of talks from leading experts.