Whether you’ve been thrust into the cycle by COVID-19 or you’ve been a remote worker your whole career, working from home has become hugely popular in recent years.
Technology and the Internet has given us the tools to remain flexible for work no matter where we are. But one question that every new remote worker thinks is, “How can I keep my focus when there’s no office environment around me?” While it sounds great to not have coworkers or managers looking over your shoulder all the time, can you trust yourself to maintain self-discipline, especially in the long term?
Don’t fret! These are certainly difficult times for all of us, so let’s make working from home as enjoyable and productive as possible. Through some simple steps, you can get the motivation to hit those deadlines and feel more fulfilled at work, even if you’re miles from the office.
They say the early bird gets the worm. Remote work means you get to avoid the morning rush-hour traffic, but that doesn’t mean you should throw out the alarm clock. Studies have shown that waking up early makes you more proactive.
While you’re at it, take some time to put on some real clothes. Even if no one else lives with you, there are psychological benefits not to work in just your underwear. The clothing we put on tends to reflect the mindset we have. A full suit and tie motif isn’t really necessary, but a real pair of pants and a shirt go a long way.
Make an effort to separate your work and home environments. The resulting physical and mental disconnect helps you stay focused on work when you need to. For instance, many remote employees have a dedicated home office that’s completely separate from the living room where they watch Netflix at night.
Speaking of your home office, remember to change your posture every now and again to avoid strain. Consider investing in a better chair or desk for better typing or writing postures.
If you’re burnt out on your current location, it’s not a bad idea to go outside and work on a laptop at your favorite coffee shop or local library. A change of scenery can do wonders for your concentration.
How do you keep focus when your manager isn’t checking on you all the time? One step to self-discipline to try is establishing a routine. Every morning, take time to plan out what you’ll be finishing that day. Divide large projects into smaller, achievable steps. This process is highly motivating, as it gives you a sense of meaningful progress. For larger projects, split the workflow into days or weeks using a calendar.
And here’s the biggest problem many people have with remote work: the distractions. While it’s not uncommon for a regular office dweller to browse the news sometimes, you need a degree of self-control not to open YouTube in the middle of the day to watch cat videos.
Turn off phone notifications so that Facebook doesn’t alert you during work hours, and tell your friends and family to leave you alone during this time.
It’s okay to play music if you wish, but aim for songs that don’t have lyrics. Avoid podcasts and television shows completely, as they require some of your precious attention to listen to.
Instead of letting the loneliness eat you alive, stay in touch with your coworkers and your boss through online contact. Communication is key in these times when you can’t see each other physically.
For instance, if you have trouble fitting in to your new workflow, talk with your boss about it. There may be other ways you can contribute to the progress of the group. Talk with your coworkers too. A collaboration-heavy workplace is a productive and happy one.
Not everything you do is enjoyable to you. Use a personal reward system to power through the difficult parts. Finishing a task feels less like a chore when you can check it off a list.
Go for a walk in the park or get a snack after you finish a deadline, for instance. Maybe even listen to a podcast, watch a TV show, or see a movie. You can promise yourself not to get distracted and still take minor breaks like this.
Exercise is important for more than just keeping the weight down. Tying into the previous point, getting up from your sedentary sitting position will boost your focus in the long run.
Most remote work jobs don’t involve a lot of physical activity. So unless you’re a work-from-home gym instructor, you’ll want to get out and exercise throughout the day.