Working From Home: Five Tips to Stay Focused

During this uncertain time, many of us are suddenly working from home. I know we are all extremely grateful to the workers on the front lines - those who provide healthcare, stock our grocery store shelves or provide other essential services - but making the switch to working from home can be a weird transition, too. Going from being in the office five days a week to rolling out of bed to walk to my home office (or couch, or dining room table!) is a totally different environment and it can be difficult to stay on-task when there are so many distractions. So I compiled my top five tips to staying focused when you're working from home.

1. Create a separate working space.

Not everyone has access to a separate home office (although I somehow convinced Nathan that I needed to make our spare bedroom an office - that sure paid off!). If you don't have a dedicated space in your home for work, it's easy to create one. Set up camp on your dining table or at your couch, making sure you have everything you need to be successful right there with you. That means any notebooks, extra monitors, video conferencing tools, etc. should be already set up. It's also important to get rid of any distractions in your work space. If you're working from your couch and have the TV right there in front of you, unplug it or leave the remote in another room so you aren't tempted.

2. Set a schedule.

Normally, you have a regular routine: wake up, get ready, commute to work, settle in at the office, take a lunch break, finish up the day, commute home. But as you know, working from home provides little to no real schedule aside from when you're supposed to log on to your laptop. I've found that scheduling blocks of time for specific tasks has made me 10x more productive. I simply create an event on my calendar for everything I plan to accomplish that day so I know exactly when and for how long to work on different projects. I also make sure to wake up at the same as I normally would for work. This helps me feel like I'm actually getting ready for the day and gives me a little extra time to make coffee and set my daily goals.

3. Dress the part.

I know, I know. It's so much easier to throw on some sweatpants and a t-shirt than it is to actually get dressed. But just like setting a schedule, wearing clothes I'd wear to the office helps me get into the mindset of going to work. I make sure to take time in the morning to actually get ready for the day as I normally would - for me, that means putting on some makeup, doing my hair and wearing office-appropriate attire.

4. Make time for breaks.

When you're working in the office, you typically take time to grab a coffee, chat around the water cooler or go to lunch, right? Do the same thing at home! Sitting at your desk/couch/dining can be monotonous, so take five minutes every few hours to take a lap around the house or check social media. I've also found that taking an actual lunch break helps break up my day. Plus, it's fun to cook a real meal instead of eating the usual prepped or store-bought options.

5. Stay connected with your coworkers.

Unless you work for an extremely small company, you probably have coworkers with whom you normally interact. My team has set up both weekly morning video calls to speak "face-to-face" and a few virtual happy hours to unwind after work. If you don't currently have access to video conferencing, Zoom is a free software that lets you video chat with up to 100 participants!

I hope these tips help you feel more productive while you're working from home. And again, a HUGE thank you to the essential workers who are taking care of us and keeping things running!