Stay Focused Despite the Distractions

Stay Focused Despite the Distractions

( – Staying focused in an office can be challenging enough on an early morning before the coffee kicks in. Staying focused while working from home, however, is a whole new level of challenging. How do we boss up and stay focused when we may be contending with working spouses or roommates, small children, pets, and the ever-present call of the latest show we’re streaming?

It is certainly difficult — but it isn’t impossible. It just may require a whole new skill set and the intention of getting down to business. In fact, here are seven ways we can stay focused while working or attending school from home:

#1 Stick to a Schedule

It can be tempting to take advantage of the flexibility of being at home. Setting a schedule and sticking to it can help keep us focused so that our work gets done efficiently. Set working hours, inform any members of the household, and then don’t deviate from that schedule unless absolutely necessary. Research has shown that regular interruptions, no matter how brief, can lead to more mistakes in our work. Being firm about these hours can set a boundary with anyone we live with and help provide better work-life balance by also specifying our off-the-clock hours.

#2 Schedule Regular Breaks

While it’s important to stick to a schedule, that schedule should include breaks. Studies have shown that regularly taking breaks actually boosts productivity. Knowing that we have generous breaks during the day can help keep us less distracted and more focused while we work. Instead of scrolling through social media or playing a game on our phones, we know that there will be time for brain breaks throughout the day if we get our work done in the time allotted.

To make these breaks even more powerful, we can schedule themes for each of them. Perhaps we have a morning meditation break, a stretching break, a water cooler break where we refill our water bottles and catch up on social media, a break to get out and walk the dog, and even a short break to clean up as much as we can in 15 minutes.

However we structure our time, we need to make breaks a part of the daily routine.

#3 Silence Notifications

While many of us need to be available to work, yet still be available for emergency calls from childcare providers or schools, it’s important to silence any unnecessary notifications during work hours. Perhaps we don’t need to track our followers on Instagram during the working day or get a notification about a flash sale from a store we like while we’re trying to work. Updating phone settings to restrict notifications during working hours can relieve us of distractions and help us be more productive.

#4 Communicate Clearly About Needs

Communication is essential when working from home. To stay focused, we need to make sure that we are getting what we need to do our work. This may mean talking to other household members about the need for quiet and/or order while we’re working. Of course, we shouldn’t expect toddlers to comply with a need for peace, quiet, or order, but we can make arrangements for any children in the home to be occupied with their own activities while we complete our responsibilities. Anyone who can manage this easily probably has the same skill set necessary to run the world.

This is why communication is so important. We need to be able to talk to other household members about our work needs, but we also need to be clear with our workplaces about any accommodations we may need to successfully work from home. Speaking up calmly and clearly to advocate for ourselves will keep distractions low during the day. This can be a learn-as-we-go process, and it might also require modifications over time.

#5 Use Technology

While technology can be a major distraction, it also has tools to keep us focused. Downloading a productivity app can help us plan out each day, provide reminders of breaks and deadlines, and even improve upon our time management skills. When we use technology well, it can help us stay focused and reach our goals.

#6 Create a Calming Office Environment

Having a separate space for work can help us stay more focused than if we work from a family room. Nothing says distraction like trying to work from a location commonly used for binge-watching the latest and greatest show.

Having a designated office space is important, but it’s also important that we try to make this environment fairly free of clutter with an emphasis on calm and order. A pile of junk mail that looks sure to topple over at any minute could distract us from replying to the email that needs our attention. Sitting in the same room where our children are capering about with Blippi is sure to distract from the important Zoom call we’re attending.

Decide on a designated workspace, claim it, and then bring some order to it. Set out a scented candle, a family photo, or even a small houseplant. Keep it clear of crayons, junk mail, and clutter. If our space is too small for a designated office, we can always throw on noise-cancelling headphones and claim a small orderly corner for ourselves.

#7 Adjust Our Expectations

There are many benefits to working from home — and many distractions. Adjusting expectations can help us stay focused and avoid disappointment. Plan for distractions so you aren’t surprised when they occur. Be prepared for a cereal crisis, that important package delivery, or technology that refuses to cooperate.

Practicing a little flexibility and self-compassion can go a long way towards helping you stay sane throughout the day. It’s also a fantastic way to ensure you remain productive and focused, even when those moments strike.

Working from home may not always be easy, but it is possible to stay on task despite the distractions. You just have to think about the experience with a solution-focused mindset. With a few life hacks under your belts and a commitment to doing the work, you, too, can boss up and get down to business. Go forth and be productive!

~Here’s to Your Success!

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