Let’s face it, in today’s day and age, our attention is always pulled in several directions, and this is especially noticeable (eventually) while at work! Now, add the additional challenge of working from home, and it can feel as though the number of distractions multiplies by hundreds! Since Nancy’s first company, Virtual Gal Friday, specializes in providing remote assistants, she definitely has a few tips on how to stay peaceful and productive while working from home.
Create and Follow a Schedule
Now, there is a lot that can be said about scheduling, but we are going to focus on the main goals. Always set a start and end time for your workday! When scheduling your tasks, be sure to pair difficult tasks with your peak performance time! Lastly, stop working when you are scheduled to stop!
Oftentimes, we see individuals who work from home burn out because they just keep working!
Designate an Office “Location”
By creating a space in your home (it can be a corner for those of you who might live in a studio apartment), your body will subconsciously “know” when you are supposed to be working, based on you physically being in your designated office space. Similarly, your body will learn that when you are in another location, you are not supposed to be working. This can drastically improve your ability to shut off at the end of a day and your body will allow itself to rest.
No, you do not have to put on classic business attire while working from home! (Well, sometimes you do for video calls, but since the onset of Covid-19, many of us have adopted the, “work on top, party on the bottom” look!) However, changing out of your pajamas will have a similar impact on your subconscious mind, to really let you know, “it’s time to start working!”
What Is YOUR Biggest Distraction? Now Stop It!
In order to stay focused, it is important to know what distractions throw us out of work mode, and how to avoid them. So, first, start journaling at the end of each work day, and jot down what to-do’s or activities you may have done instead of working. (Scroll through social media, watch The Price is Right, click on a “link to buy” in an email from one of your favorite stores/brands, start laundry, do dishes, etc.)
Once you have a list of your biggest distractions, it’s time to set some rules for yourself! The next step will encourage you to take breaks, and during those breaks are the perfect times for you to enjoy some of your distractions! However, we strongly encourage you to set a timer so you can start working the moment the break is over!
Obviously, this is important as we have mentioned it twice! That said, while scheduling your day, be sure to carve out time for breaks. Now, each person responds differently to breaks and will have their own sweet spot for time working vs. time on a break! That said, start to test it out.
- 25 minutes working – 5 minute break
- 45-50 minutes working and 10-15 minute breaks
- 1.5 hours working and 20-30 minute breaks
Find what work/break ratio works best for you, and then do you best to honor that throughout your day!
It is important for our bodies to “cool down” after we finish a workout! The same is true for work! Find a good transition activity for you to do that will allow your mind to know, “we’re finished!” Now, of course, there can be multiple transition activities, but try to pick a few and make them habits! Doing so will really help your mind learn, “when we do _______, we are finished with work for the day!”
As human beings, we get joy out of accomplishment! Therefore, we strongly encourage individuals working from home to prioritize continued education! No, this does not mean that we want you to sign up for college (unless that is the route you want to do), we are simply encouraging you to continue learning new skills that will aid you in your career.
Pro tip: You do not have to learn new things solely for your career! If you always wanted to learn how to basket weave, do it! There is magic when people learn! Go do it!
Be sure to, at least once a month, do a recap on your overall productivity. This will help you to determine what is working, what to pivot, and/or what to eliminate!
Sometimes, this can get difficult, this is when we really encourage having a business coach! A coach will help keep you accountable!
Have Open Communication with Your Boss
In many situations, it can be really helpful to inform your boss that you are taking specific steps to help you stay peaceful and productive while working from home. During the conversation, be sure to discuss overall expectations, and create a plan that will allow you to be flexible!
Communicate YOUR HOURS with YOUR TEAM
Taking the time to inform all of your team members what hours your are working vs. not working, will help them work with you and not against you!
Again, it can be difficult to stay focused when working from home. That said, it is important that you make the effort to do so!