Working from home definitely poses some different challenges than working in the office, especially when it comes to focus. No matter what your work-from-home situation is, you’re likely at least facing different distractions than you did at the office. While most of us have developed strategies at work that help us to maintain concentration and productivity, these don’t necessarily address the challenges we face at home. This makes it easy for us to fall into new habits that drain our efficiency. What are some of the most common culprits?
Not taking actual breaks
At home, the blurring of personal and professional space and time can make us less likely to take actual breaks. We might step away from our desk to tend to a household task, or perhaps we work through lunch trying to be as productive as possible. Whatever the case, if you’re not giving yourself at least one or two breaks in your workday, chances are your productivity is suffering. Set yourself up for greater success by scheduling in some time to pause. Even a five-minute breather can help you recharge.
Not defining a focus
As I’ve mentioned before, the lack of structure when working from home can be one of the biggest challenges that professionals face. When you leave your workday open to the natural flow of work, however, you risk distraction getting the better of you. Break down your workday a bit, and assign a specific focus to blocks of time. This is a great way to fend off distractions and stay on task. If from 10-11am you’re working on redesigning your website, for example, it’s much easier to tell yourself that load of laundry or social-media scroll can wait.
Not creating a plan
Again, like assigning a purpose to specific windows of time, we also want to give ourselves a clear plan for the day. For most, this means defining which hours are work hours. From there, it’s important to consider what you can reasonably expect of yourself in that time period. Give yourself some clear tasks that you can check off throughout the day. And when you’ve reached the end of your work window for the day, sign out and disconnect from work mode. A plan helps us maintain the work-life balance when our personal and professional realms have merged.
Blending your to-do’s
Another important strategy for maintaining that balance is keeping your to-do lists separate. Giving yourself a long list of personal and professional tasks is asking for trouble. You’re putting countless distractions in front of yourself every time you check your list. Keep separate personal and professional to-do lists to help yourself stay on track and focused. The more we blend our personal and professional responsibilities, the more difficult it is to find a sense of balance.
Have you noticed any new habits develop since switching to working from home? Are these making you more effective or are they slowing you down? Do you have any habits you’d recommend cultivating? Any you’d recommend avoiding? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!