How to Stay Away From Distractions While Working From Home
Prior to COVID-19, only technology companies were widely known for offering work from home options. However, remote work has now become buzzy—even cutting across industries. It’s one of the most significant innovative disruptions caused by the pandemic. Close to 16 million knowledge workers in the United States have switched to working from home.
Post COVID-19, it will be safe to predict that the work-from-home culture will continue to gain traction, with more top jobs for remote work opening up. According to a recent report by the International Workplace Group (IWG), 85% of businesses agree that productivity levels have increased due the flexibility that comes with working from home.
However, this change stirs a big question: can this level of productivity be sustained on a long-term basis?
Companies aiming to go lean and agile may not be able to put up with poor or late delivery of tasks in the near future. After all, working from home isn’t always easy. It’s hard to stick to schedules (if you have one), boost motivation, manage the kids (if you’re a parent), work at pace, etc. To avoid distractions and get the best out of working from home, you’ll need to take deliberate steps and build productive habits.
In this post, we will share proven tips that can help you avoid distractions while building motivation, focus, and productivity.
Don’t Work in Your Pajamas
Nine times out of ten, you consciously or unconsciously attach meanings or functions to almost every piece of clothing you own. And your brain knows how to behave whenever you’re wearing a particular outfit. While you’re in pajamas, your brain knows it’s time to rest, and sheer motivation may not be enough to override that instinctive feeling when you wear your pajamas.
You’re working from home, so there’s no need to dress fancily. However, make a commitment to clean up in the morning and change into something semi-casual. This will help build a professional culture even at home.
Create a Dedicated Work Area
Now, this isn’t about the size of your apartment. It’s about setting aside a dedicated area for work-related activities. Doing so will help give you a clear boundary between ‘home stuff’ and ‘work stuff’. The same way you have your bed for sleep or rest, you should have an area where only work happens. It’s about having a space where you don’t eat or do anything non-work related. You’re telling your brain that only work happens here. So, once you’re in that space, your brain is quick to jump into action.
Creating this space can also be a good excuse to start building your own home office setup. Consider asking your employer for budget to purchase a desk and office chair that can improve your comfort and posture. Make a list of items and gadgets that should make up your home office. As your budget permits, start collecting them until you have a functional home office.
Create a Daily, Weekly, and/or Monthly Schedule
Have an idea of your goals or tasks for each day. Doing so makes it easier for you to accomplish them. A schedule is a perfect way to keep yourself in the loop of your goals and targets for each day.
But: remember that unrealistic schedules may do more harm than good. Rome was not built in a day. So, there’s nothing wrong with cutting your goals down into bite-sized pieces. Make a commitment to create a list of tasks or activities from the start of each day. If possible, attach time estimates, then work through the day to complete your set tasks. Setting ideal work hours will help you maintain work-life balance, too.
Use a Separate Browser for Work-Related Activities
There are a thousand and one videos, pop-ups, story previews, etc. that can distract you on the Internet. It’s wise to keep separate browsers for both work-related activities and ‘personal stuff’. Keep your work browser free from push notifications, ad pop-ups, too many tabs, and other media forms that you’ve found to be distracting.
Regulate How You Use Social Media
Scrolling on your favorite social media platform can easily turn into wasted hours. To take out this distraction, you have to be deliberate and determined to regulate your usage. Endeavor to keep your phone far from your dedicated work area, or you can use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. You can also use third-party tools that help restrict the time you spend on some apps or block access to websites that you select.
With the recent permanent remote policies from companies like Twitter, it’s quite clear that working from home has come to stay. According to a Seyfarth report, 67% of employers are taking steps to allow employees to work remotely, even though they don’t have any remote experience.
And this means drastic steps will be taken to monitor remote employee productivity. Become familiar with tools which may be used to measure your productivity. Some may be task management tools like Trello, and others can be time trackers with screenshots like Traqq.
In all, feel free to test what works best for you and be sure to follow it. The entire world is trying to figure out this new reality.
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