One of the most difficult things about working from home is having to be the worker, the motivator and the taskmaster all at the same time. When you’re the only one accountable for your time, it’s much too easy to spend the day pinning, tweeting and not checking a single thing off your to-do list.
Here are ten ways to help remove distractions, stay focused, and get even more done during your workday:
1. Separate your spaces.
Having a dedicated space for getting work done is one of the best ways to tell you brain, “It’s time to work!” Create a space that’s quiet, organized, and free of pets, kids, and temptations that could pull you away from work. At my house, the office is for work, the living room is for TV, and the bedroom is for sleeping (and other horizontal activities).
2. Complete chores before starting work.
Nothing kills concentration like knowing there’s a pile of laundry to be folded or dishes to be done. Set aside 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes the night before to complete all those tasks so your mind is free to focus on work.
3. Give yourself a break.
If you’ve got a tightly packed day and breaks don’t come naturally, schedule a walk, an errand, or lunch like you would any other task. Regularly taking time away from work will help to clear your mind and feel refreshed and focused when you return to your desk
4. Use the Pomodoro technique.
Email for 20 minutes, bookkeeping for 20 minutes, blog posting for 20 minutes, creative work for 20 minutes, break for 20 minutes. Batching your tasks will help you get more done in less time and keep you from feeling drained. As a web designer, it’s all to easy for me to work on a project for four hours at a time without looking up from my computer at all. Setting a timer and switching between tasks allows me to get more done each day and keeps my mind active and focused.
You don’t have to make a trip to the gym for a major sweat-a-thon; a quick workout can fit into one of your daily breaks. Find a yoga or cardio video and workout at home every day. Increasing your adrenaline and endorphins will not only give you laser focus, but can also cause an onslaught of fantastic ideas.
Let’s be honest, a to-do list can be helpful, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming. Have you ever looked at your list and then immediately opened Facebook instead of getting to work? I know I have! To avoid becoming overwhelmed, get super clear every morning (or even the night before) on the three most important things you need to accomplish for the day.
7. Turn off interruptions.
Over a year ago I turned off Facebook, Twitter, and email notifications on my phone and this has not only been helpful in removing distractions, but lowered my stress levels as well. I no longer feel the need to read or respond to emails the second the drop into my inbox or check Twitter each time there’s a retweet. Instead I respond to email three times a day (batching tasks!) and (try) to check on social media only when I’m taking a break.
8. Find a freelance buddy.
Having someone else feverishly working away next to you can help motivate and keep you on task. This one does have the potential to go totally wrong though, so be careful! You’ll want to find a co-worker who is as busy as you are and isn’t just looking to hangout and chat.
9. Track your time.
Knowing when you’re focused and what’s pulling your mind away from work will be helpful in not only cutting out distractions, but also finding the time of the day that your brain is at its best. I know there’s no way I’m coding or cranking out a new blog post at 8 a.m. But I’ve done lots of focused, high quality work after 10 p.m. at night.
10. Do work that you love.
We all know not every work task is enjoyable, but if you’re constantly working on projects that you don’t feel excited about, you’ll be looking for anything to help you procrastinate. Becoming clear on who you want to work with and why you want to work with them will help you say yes only those project you’ll find truly fulfilling.