How To Stay Focused At Your Home Office

Remote work, home office, or business from home are no longer futuristic.  There are roughly 15 million home-based businesses in the U.S. On the workforce, new survey data revealed that remote work is a major benefit for employees. In fact, 34% of U.S. workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in order to work remotely. And those who do work remotely say they’re happy in their jobs 29% more than on-site workers. 

There are plenty of benefits to working from home. Better work-life balance, increased productivity/better focus, less stress, and no more wasting time on your soul-crushing commute! If you’re a parent, having the flexibility to work from home and spend time with your kids, is priceless 💃.

Remote work is wonderful. But it comes with its challenges. Remote workers need to be self-motivated and experts at time management, or else they will quickly realize that is hard to stay productive when working at home. 

If you’re working from home or considering to start and want to learn the best tips on how to be productive at your home office and stay focused, keep reading! 

Follow these 9 working from home tips to stay focused when you’re working remotely.

Have An Inspiring Working Space

It’s important to have a designated space, preferably a room where can work in isolation, away from distractions. However, don’t think that you need a spacious room to work from home. Even a corner, the kitchen counter, or a desk behind some furniture count! The main goal of assigning a space for your home office is to boost your creative thinking, get you energized, free of distractions, and ignite your productivity. 

Having a designated home office space also makes it easier to calculate percentages of home business use expenses that you can deduct on your income tax.

When you’re choosing the home office space in your home, remember to choose a location that has all the relevant wiring for the equipment you’re going to need, and space for all of your chosen home office equipment, including things such as filing cabinets. Otherwise, you’ll waste too much time wandering through your home looking for this or that. Plan your office design around the power, wireless reception, lighting and ventilation needs of your office space. 

If you’re going to consult with clients on the premises, you will need a “business-like” space (uncluttered by things such as children’s toys), and private. 

Silence Your Phone

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can allow yourself to be interrupted at any time. This includes notifications from text messages, emails, social media, and calls. Seriously, you get more things done by putting your phone in complete silence mode.

A quick scroll on a text message can turn into a major time suck. And just to clarify, I mean full silence mode. Not just vibrate. The buzz also interrupts.

Wake Up, Dress Up & Makeup

It will be tempting to stay in bed, on your pj’s, bring your laptop and just “work” from there. This is a dangerous habit that will put in danger the luxury of working from home.

Treat yourself like a serious professional! Get into a morning ritual where you take your shower, get dressed, do your hair (and makeup if possible). A recent study shows that people who dress better have more confidence, feel more powerful, and are more focused on details. 

Save Time With Online Shopping

Being at home might give you the impression that you have a lot of free time. You might think that since you don’t have co-workers interrupting you, coffee breaks, and distractions from listening to conversations, you can just sneak in some errands here and there. Just stay away from it! Again, it will put the luxury of working from home at risk! 

Instead of taking an extended “lunch hour” to get some groceries, take 10 minutes and order them online. Ever since I opted in for curbside pick up, I save up to 10 hours per month in grocery shopping, plus close to $500 by simply not going to the store. Talking about a win-win!

Find Your Rhythm

Now that you can make your own schedule, you will be able to find your own rhythm. Are you a morning person? Does creativity come easy to you in the morning or in the afternoon? 

If you’re starting working from home, you might not know your rhythm yet. Pay attention to your energy levels during the day. For example, I notice that from 11 am to 2 pm I am very alert, energized, and can be very productive. I schedule my “left-brain” work during that time and leave the creative work for either early in the morning or late evening.   

How about you? Can you dive in a spreadsheet full of stats, %, calculations, at 7 am? Then go for it! 

Train Your Brain To FOCUS 

When you don’t have the right time management skills, your calendar suffers. I say that it’s like your calendar has bugs that make the hours disappear. But it’s because you’re not having the ability to focus. No worries! Effective time management is a skill that comes with practice and luckily, you can train your brain!

To improve your time management skills, we first need to take inventory of how you spend your days so we can clean up those bugs and become more efficient.⁣

1) Acknowledge where you’re starting and be gentle with yourself. You have unique conditions that might require you to just do so much each day. We will get you to be more productive, but this process takes one day at a time. ⁣

2) Clean up your head. Very often we get distracted by our own thoughts. Those thoughts bring emotions and those emotions will take you to do the wrong actions. Typically it’s either self-sabotaging or procrastination. Stay away from that dangerous zone by writing down EVERYTHING that is in your mind. What are you worrying about at this very moment? Spill it ALL out – in writing.⁣

3) Let’s sort your pile of thoughts in 5 categories:⁣

Category 1: Things you need to do that are “me time”. Getting your nails done. Make your doctors’ appointments. Grocery shopping. ⁣

Category 2: Things you need to do that are “family duty”. I have 4 kids and 2 dogs. Thank goodness, my husband is simply amazing and helps me. Otherwise, I would not be able to process any other thought. Family duties will come and you need to just do those things that nobody else can do. Taking your kiddos to dance, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, playdates, birthday parties… Homework, after school program… You name it! Get it all out!!!! Write it down.⁣

Category 3: Your $$$$. These are income-generating activities. Actual activities to discuss business opportunities, period. Prospecting activities. NOT planning. NOT marketing.⁣

Category 4: Your actual work. Things you need to do to get paid. In my case, I run a media company but I also consult and coach. ⁣

Category 5: Research and development. Your personal and professional growth goes here. Are you working with a coach? (I can help!). Your time to read books, learn from tutorials, attend to seminars, or anything that gets you new skills goes here. ⁣

Once you sort your thoughts into these 5 categories, assign them colors, group them and block time to work in all of them together.  I use a very simple spreadsheet to plan my time management. It’s basically my time management definition, very practical. This allows me to work in my business the way I know I’m gonna be more productive and focused. 

No Tidying Up During Work Hours

Let’s be honest, not everyone can afford a cleaning service, though “afford” is a squishy word. And even if affordability is not an issue, the truth is, someone needs to maintain and organize the house. Someone will need to take the garbage out, do the laundry, empty the dishwasher. 

If you’re working from home, you will be tempted to tidy your kitchen, do laundry, and clean the floors during your working hours. But just because you’re someone who runs a business from home and has more flexibility, doesn’t mean that you’re making the best choice by tidy up your house at 11 am. That can be your most productive time of the day! 

How do you spend less time on all those things? 

When people said to me in interviews “But not everyone can afford a cleaning service,” I always had an answer: it doesn’t cost anything to lower your standards. Seriously, drop it.  Unless you’re the CEO of a cleaning business and you’re broadcasting your home to the world 24-7 so they can see you’re the cleanest person on the planet, you don’t need to have a perfectly tidy house ALL THE TIME.

If you can’t resist the temptation of cleaning the dirty dishes from breakfast or lunch during your work hours, I have a very simple rule: stay away from it. Don’t go to the kitchen. Hibernate in your home office until you get your work done, PERIOD.

FOCUS On Your Top 6 Things For The Day 

I know that some people use the ONE thing for the day and others do 3 things daily.  The idea is to commit to finish 1, 3, or X amount of tasks per day, no matter what.

I prefer to use The Ivy Lee Method- a simple daily routine for achieving peak productivity:

  1. At the end of each workday, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

Ditch Multitasking 

The myth of multi-tasking is that being busy is synonymous with being better. I’m the first to admit that I am terrible at this. Sometimes I joke and say that I have ADD. It’s the constant need to take a look at multiple screens at a time. 

The truth is, having fewer priorities leads to better work.  When your brain works without interruptions, your ideas flow much faster. 

Study world-class experts in nearly any field—athletes, artists, scientists, teachers, CEOs—and you’ll discover one characteristic runs through all of them: focus. The reason is simple. You can’t be great at one task if you’re constantly dividing your time in ten different ways. 

Mastery requires focus and consistency. 

Big Announcement – Coming Up

My upcoming book, Born to Be YOU-Nicorn has a chapter about Optimizing Your Life. So many times you think that in order to achieve more, you need to do more. However, it’s quite the opposite. 

To be more productive, you might just have to remove activities that are not related to your goals. 

Successful people spend 60% of their time working on their income-generating activities, and 40% of the time doing other fun things! 

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