Whether you’ve always worked remotely, or recently had to make a change due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s always room for better working from home habits. It’s easy to feel absent-minded when left to your own devices. After all, your favorite shows are only a click away – and your dog really wants to go on a walk.
However, you shouldn’t let those distractions interfere with your work. Thankfully, it’s a lot simpler to concentrate than you think. Take a look.
Establish an Office
Do your best to create a designated workspace. You don’t need an office or den – a table in a quiet area can achieve the same results. You’ll likely feel an urge to work in your bedroom, but you shouldn’t do so more than once. If you start to combine sleep and work, you’ll become a lot less productive.
Try to find a decently secluded area, like your family room or basement. You could also turn your kitchen counter into a makeshift desk. Be as creative as possible so that you’re able to establish an ideal set up. It’s also beneficial to take this time to implement a no electronics rule after a certain hour. When you work from home, you need to be able to put away your work, too.
Finally, think through ergonomics. Whether you work remotely full-time or are anticipating a long quarantine, your health matters. A supportive office chair can help you sit up straight while working on a computer. Standing desks are another great idea for at-home workers — research suggests sit-stand configurations can reduce up to 54% of upper back and neck pain.
Use To-Do Lists
When you’re at the office, you probably stick to some type of schedule. If you typically answer emails from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and take lunch from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., try to follow a similar routine at home. You may not be able to recreate your workday perfectly, but it’s a start.
To-do lists and online calendars allow you to maintain a bit of structure. Create a method that groups tasks into prioritized categories. This way, you’re able to tackle harder projects first – and slowly wind down by the end of your workday. It also helps to physically outline whatever you need to complete. Then, you won’t forget to send out that vital presentation or email.
If you manage a team, encourage your co-workers to share their to-do lists with you. You’ll be able to make adjustments as needed.
Play Ambient Noise
A lot of us find that it’s easier to concentrate when there’s ambient noise. Though you can’t listen to actual office chatter, there’s a lot of ways to emulate those sounds. Search “white noise” or “coffee shop sounds” for playlists that make it feel like you’re at a library or lounge.
You could also play instrumental tracks on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Music. Perhaps turn on a show that you’ve already seen and the lower the volume. If there’s a mountain of emails to power through, podcasts may be helpful. Whatever you choose, make sure that you don’t distract yourself accidentally. Ambient noise indeed allows you to learn, but you don’t want to miss a deadline.
Set Work Hours
Some employers track their workers’ hours through online software, which makes it easier to establish set schedules. However, if yours doesn’t, it’s beneficial to do so yourself – whatever that looks like. Otherwise, you may have to work late because you took one too many breaks.
Make sure that you log on and off at a similar time every day. It won’t always be possible to do so, but if you can stick to a routine, you’ll be more productive. For example, you can wake up at 7 a.m. to get dressed and eat breakfast. Sit down at your desk by 8 a.m. and work until lunchtime. Then, head back to your work and aim to finish up by 5:30 p.m.
Of course, you can take a break to microwave a cup of coffee or spend a few moments outside. Plus, over time, you may need to readjust your schedule. For the most part, however, it’s beneficial to stick to definite hours.
Stay Focused When Working Remotely
A lot of perks come with remote work. To make sure that you stay clear of distractions, use these helpful tips.