6 ways to stay focused when working from home
Working from home can bring so many benefits; time saved on the commute, the comfort of working from your bed/in your pjs/a pirate outfit or whatever floats your boat (sorry bad pun), the freedom to be your own boss and choose flexible hours - all these benefits and more can mean it's the perfect solution to combining work with raising a family.
With all these positives it’s easy to see why nearly 1 in 12 new mums now run their own business. However taking the plunge to become self employed and work from home can take some adjusting too - especially if you’re used to the corporate life with a rigid office environment.
If you find yourself easily distracted by the cat/household chores/the allure of a Netflix box set (just one episode…) rather than getting any actual work done, then these tips could help keep you focused and slashing through that to do list before you can say ‘House of Cards..’
1. Create your own schedule
Yes it’s obvious but plan your day! The great thing about working for yourself is there is no boss looking over your shoulder cracking the whip, however that also means the onus is on you to keep track of getting things done. Write a to do list the night before so there’s no delay first thing and then prioritise the tasks that are the most pressing, time sensitive or will have the most impact on your business. Audit your time - make a note of all the tasks you do then evaluate the value this brings to your company or financial growth. If it doesn’t make an impact, get rid!
Try using an online tool or app such as Trello to help organise your time and schedule specific tasks.
2. Keep household chores to out-of-hours
I don’t love household chores (who does?) but I do love feeling like I’m getting ahead so sticking on a load of washing in between tasks feels like a win, however it’s all too easy to let your home life distract you from your work responsibilities and take you away from the job you’re actually getting paid to do.
Instead use the time you've saved on the commute to tidy the kitchen, hang out the laundry or walk the dog before the working day begins. The rest can wait till lunch or the work day is finished.
3. Create a designated workspace
Not everyone has the space for a home office, however try to create an area that is solely for work and keep all your work stuff together in that space. Not only does it mean you can access the things you need quickly and easily, it also helps cut down on distractions and gets you into ‘work mode’.
When your office is your home it can be tempting to work all day from your bed or the sofa but when your work gets scattered across the house you will inevitably lose time looking for things and lose focus. Plus separating your downtime from your worktime makes it more enjoyable to relax on the sofa after a hard days work - even more so if you haven’t been slobbing there in your pjs all day.
4. Give yourself a break
Take breaks just like you would have done in the office. Don’t be tempted to skip lunch or work all day without coming up for air as ultimately this is counterproductive. Regular breaks help maintain concentration levels and make sure you refresh your mind and eyes by periodically stepping away from the screen.
When are you most productive? The beauty of working from home is that you control your schedule so identify these times and use them to your advantage.
It’s also important to put a limit on your day, when you’re home is your office it’s much harder to shut down your computer and stop checking your emails etc but working all hours can lead to burn-out, so try to put limits on work time giving yourself a chance to relax and recharge.
5. Get rid of distractions
My golden rule for working at home is to keep the TV off - even if you think it’s just there for ‘background’ noise it’s surprising how much it can grab your attention and before you know it you you’ll be halfway through an episode of Loose Women and you wont even realise it. So find other ways to create an atmosphere like putting on the radio or make a work friendly playlist on Spotify.
Similarly avoid regularly checking social media, whatsapp and emails, instead use a dedicated time to check these as they are black holes for time wasting. Better still put your phone on silent and preferably in another room - only checking it when you get up to make a cup of tea on your scheduled break.
And when you just can't resist... try Freedom - a social media blocker.
6. Find other self employed mums
Working solo from home can leave you feeling isolated and lonely so one of the ways to combat this is to find other people in the same situation, locally to you. Go to networking events, meet-ups or workshops that you know other entrepreneurial mums will go to. It’s essential to build a network of ‘colleagues’ you can bounce ideas off and help your business grow.
Another option is to find a co-working, collaborative workspace that you can use for a small fee. These will more than likely be filled with like minded people who get what you do and offer you much needed social interaction.
What tips do you use for staying focused at home? What makes it easier and more fun for you?