During this COVID crisis, working remotely from home is becoming a new normal for many people. With all the obligations and distractions that can bring, a few tips for staying focused may be helpful as you try to balance those work duties with home life.
Turn on the tunes
We’re not saying jam out to your favorite rock band here, but having some light music playing in the background can help boost focus while you’re working on projects. Music is an effective stress reducer in both healthy individuals and people with health problems. Listening to soothing music can help decrease blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels. So, while you’re typing that next quarterly report, ask Alexa to play a focus playlist.
Toss the distractions
While you can’t do away with everything, there are a few things that you can cut back to help you stay focused on the task at hand. Moving to a quiet area, turning off phone notifications, shutting the door to your office/room, taking off the smart watch and closing out of programs on your computer that aren’t essential to what you’re working on will help you get – and stay – in the zone. Social media is another big distractor for most generations these days. If it helps you stay focused, set your phone out of quick reach. It can seem like habit, and almost second-minded, to grab your phone the second a notification pops up. The more you can tune out the things taking your mind off work, the more productive you’ll find yourself.
Make a to-do list
No, they’re not old-fashioned, and yes, they really do work. It can be challenging to find the motivation to accomplish everything you’ve set out to do, but having a written plan of action can help! Start by listing out all your to-dos and then go through and rank them by importance. Knock out the urgent items first and then spend the time remaining in your workday on the less important items. There’s something mentally satisfying about crossing a line through those big projects on paper, and this will help you stay organized and on top of your priorities while juggling the adjustment of working from home.
Food for thought…or fuel?
It’s no secret that snacking can become a big temptation when working from home. But it’s important to remember that the right balance of food will help to keep your brain focused, your energy levels up, and your emotions on an even keel. Don’t go overboard with the junk food, but also make sure you don’t delay or skip meals. Try chewing gum between meals or fueling your body with healthier options (fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds). Also be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water.
Set a dedicated work-space
Working from the couch may not be the best option for your productivity and concentration. Being able to mentally separate “relaxation” from “focus” areas can help give a sense of balance to your new situation. Though it may be tempting to keep your laptop by your cozy bedside, you’ll appreciate having a more professional setup when it comes to those team video chats. If you don’t have an office space in your home, try setting up at the kitchen table. Posture and position have everything to do with a productive mindset, so you’re bound for success when you have a good chair supporting you and a flat surface or table to work from.
Stick to a schedule and schedule breaks
Having a sense of routine and normalcy will help your day feel a little more organized. If you were one to hit the break room for a cup of coffee before getting your day started when working at the office, make it a point to brew a pot and enjoy a cup before pulling out your laptop. If you are working around little ones or pets, schedule time away from the screen to interact with them and get some fresh air. The work will be there when you get back. Taking occasional breaks is necessary for staying mentally and emotionally grounded when working from home, especially since it can feel like the workday doesn’t have a hard stop at 5 p.m. Give yourself designated focus times to knock out projects and tasks, and remember to be fluid with the rest of your time.
Move your body
Exercise isn't just good for the body. It promotes brain health, too, which is important for memory capacity and concentration. Penciling in time each and every day for 15-30 minutes of activity will help boost your focus tendencies. Indirectly, exercise also helps improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.
We often face a mountain of work and feel overwhelmed and unproductive. By day’s end, we throw in the towel, feeling defeated by our to-do list. Lack of focus is one of the greatest enemies of productivity. Fortunately, adding a few of these tips to your every-day routine can help you maintain concentration.
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