5 Ways to Stay Focused While Working from Home

This week I will be answering a series of career questions that relate to twentysomethings.  Please feel free to email or tweet me your questions! Thanks! Nicole

Question from @pghjen: I work from home once a week and I have a tough time focusing.  Do you have any tips that will help me stay productive?

Nicole: I can only imagine how tough it would be to stay focused when there are distractions all around you!  I can see it now: Oprah, laundry, cleaning, bills, errands- oh my! Here are a few things I would do if I were you.

1.  Evaluate and improve your home office.  Do you work in a human pig sty?  Do you have papers all over your desk? Take the time to shred all the paper work you don’t need anymore and clean up.  Clutter is a guaranteed distraction AND guilt trip which will only take you away from the task at hand. 

Also, If your home office is currently set up in your bedroom, do anything you can to put it somewhere else.  Yes, this may entail putting your desk in your living room if you have a small apartment like me.  It’s so important to separate your work from where you sleep, otherwise you may have a hard time getting quality shut-eye and leaving your work “at work.”

2.  Avoid distractions by planning ahead.  If you’re like me, you know how easy it is to suddenly say “Oh my gosh, what was I doing again? How did I end up so distracted?!”  If you know you work at home on Fridays, make sure you take care of distractions by Thursday night.  For example, send your bills out, vacuum and watch the episode of “Flash Forward” that you missed BEFORE Friday, that way you have no excuses not to stay productive.

3. Shower and get dressed as you would if you were going into the office.  As much as we all occasionally fantasize about working in our PJ’s, we know that PJ’s signal “relaxation” to our brains, rather than signaling “kick butt at work!”  Get up, take a shower, put your makeup on and get ready to conquer the day.  You’ll feel so much better and avoid another excuse to stray.

4.  Schedule breaks into your day.  It is my belief that working from home can be as productive (if not more) than working from the office.  The trick is planning out your day more than you usually would.  You may benefit from scheduling time to meet a friend for lunch, take a walk, or attend a mid-day Pilates class to keep your focus.  Perhaps working out in the morning charges you up, even if you have to start a bit later.  Having something on your calendar will also push you to finish things before you leave.

5.  Look into joining a group of those who work from home.  A great example is a group like “Jelly” which is popping up all over the country.  Jelly was started by two friends who liked working from home but missed the creativity, friendships, and interaction that they got from working in a traditional office.  If you work better with others around you or hate the loneliness of working from home, joining a group like Jelly would be great for you!  If it’s not in your city, consider starting your own by emailing hello@workatjelly.com .

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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