Want to hear something ironic? I’m writing this blog post while water drips into my basement from the pooling in my garage from a recent snowfall. But I’m trying to stay focused on finishing this blog post before I tend to the mess!!!
Working from home has great advantages, but distractions can abound working from home, whether its leaky garages, cranky kids, hungry husbands etc. The key to success in working from home is managing these distractions so you can stay focused on the tasks at hand. Focus will lead to better productivity and better results. If your work from home job is in sales or service, your focus will also need to be tailored to meet the needs of your customers and clients.
Here are some tips on how to stay focused when working from home.
- Schedule your time. Timeblocking is an excellent to build work into your day. Time block a task and focus SOLELY on that task. This may mean turning off your phone and email notifications. Unless, of course, your time block is for making sales calls, then time block all your sales calls into one, and focus in on the task of those, leaving all else until your calls are finished.
- Know your Biological Prime Time – I eluded to this is in a post on Acting on the Important, Not the Urgent. You’ll be more productive if you schedule your high priority high return tasks during the time of day when you are mentally most awake and aware.
- Time your communications – If your work from home job requires communications with clients and customers, be cognizant of when they would be most receptive to hearing from you. It may require you scheduling social media posts for certain times of day or week, or delaying email messages until an appropriate time. So while you can afford the flexibility to craft the social media messages on a Friday night, you may get higher return if they are launched on a Monday afternoon.
- Treat it as a job – the biggest indicator of your work-from-home success will be how you treat your work. If you treat it like a job, with 9-5 days and goals to achieve, then you will succeed. If you treat it like a hobby that you’ll tend to when you have time, then chances are you will not tend to it as a priority and your success will be slower than your counterparts
- Family buy in – I’m very fortunate; my children have known me to work from home most of my career, so boundaries were in place very early on in their lives. My husband also works from home, so we respect each others schedules and space. If you are not as fortunate to have buy-in from your family members, its time to sit them down and explain the importance of this work to you. Building new habits takes time, even for your family members, but be patient and persistent in your messaging and boundaries.
- Stick to it! If your family members see you waiver, then they will as well. You need to set the example! If you’re not serious about your work, they won’t be either and those “family buy-in” habits will be harder to develop.
- Dedicated office space – Just as you would have a space in a traditional office setting, ensure you have a space in your home. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it needs to be conducive to good work. If you’re struggling to carve out this space for yourself in your home, start to time block your high priority tasks for an alternate location during your biological prime time.
- Exercise – getting your body moving, and changing your scenery all help in increasing your productivity. Go for a quick walk or run, or take your teleconference calls while walking the treadmill or lifting some light weights
- Change of scenery – if you’re going stir-crazy being home all day, then don’t! Take your computer to a coffee shop or entrepreneur shared office space and shake up your scenery. The change in view will spark creativity and give you the energy you need to finish your projects.
- Accountability – find someone to help you stay on task! Share your goals or schedule, and have them check in on you. Find the right partner to do this; someone who won’t waiver when you do.
Staying focused in any setting can be tough, but by employing these simple strategies above, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals and finding great balance in your work and life.
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