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How to stay focused when you work from home

Six steps to take control of your work day.

More and more of us now work from home, and it’s no wonder why. Traditional office jobs simply don’t suit many of us. We want to be close to our children, retain flexibility in our lives and avoid long commutes.

But working from home isn’t always easy. We need to be our own motivators, set our own deadlines, and practice discipline.

When you’re the boss and you set your own routine, it can be all too easy to slack off.

This is a problem I know well; I have spent the last two years working and studying online and it hasn’t always been easy. Still, it has allowed me to travel, gain independence and balance my job with my passions. Want to know how I have made it work?

Here are the six most important things I have learnt.

1. Create an office

One of the reasons people work from home is to get away from the office, so it might seem strange that creating an office is my number one piece of advice.

But trust me when I say that having a designated work space is crucial!

Even if you live in a tiny apartment, take the time to set aside a chair and part of a table as your work space. Take it seriously; as soon as you are in your home office space, treat it like work. Tell your family or housemates that while you are at your desk you do not want to be disturbed.

Having a set space will help you draw boundaries between home and work. There’s nothing worse than working from home only to realize that you can’t seem to ever get away from your tasks.

When you work from home having a designated work space is crucial. You decide: either part of the living room becomes your office, or your whole home does.

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2. Set your hours

Maybe you can’t fall asleep until late at night. Maybe you need to pick up or drop off children during the day. Maybe you find you work best early in the mornings.

One of the greatest benefits of working from home is that you can create your own schedule. The stereotypical 9-5 simply does not work for a lot of people!

But working from home does not mean throwing set hours out of the window. If you want to thrive you need to create your own workplace traditions. We need routines.

Regular sleep, meals and work hours help productivity soar.

Pinpoint when you are the most productive, and then create a schedule that is tailored to your needs.

3. Get out of your pyjamas

As tempting as it might be, working from home should not be a pyjama party. I cannot overstate the emotional importance of getting dressed in the morning!

Dressing in professional clothing when you work from home will help you get in a productive zone, and it will make you feel good.

Treat your home job with as much seriousness as you would an office job. You owe it to yourself.

4. Decide when you are going to clock out

Looking ahead at a long day of working alone can be demoralizing!

Instead of sitting down with the intention of working until you are no longer able, decide on exactly what needs to be done each day.

What tasks need to be completed? How much time will those tasks take? Decide at the beginning of each day when you will finish work.

Having an end in sight helps with motivation and focus.

5. Get moving!

Around two weeks ago I started doing 40 minutes of yoga a day. I can already feel the difference; instead of feeling sluggish at the end of my lunch break I am energized.

Scientists have found that people who exercise for 2.5 hours a week are more productive (even if those 2.5 hours replace working hours!).

If you’re using ‘I’m busy’ as an excuse not to exercise, re-evaluate! Exercise might boost your productivity and win you time.

6. Maintain your relationships

When you work from home you will often find yourself alone. Without coworkers to chat with, it is easy to become isolated.

This is why it is so important to prioritize your personal relationships.

Make plans after work. Go to parties, go to gyms, go out to dinner. Join clubs and associations.

Working from home can give you flexibility and control over your work; but don’t let your work become your life!

- Lena Klein

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