This article was originally published here.
So you’ve made the transition from going into an office everyday to working from home. Yes. The dream.
Until you realize how easily distracting “the dream” is. There’s always laundry that you can do, TV shows that can just play in the background (ha!), kitchens that need to be cleaned up, errands that you can run, etc. The list goes on forever. When you work from home the distractions feel endless and before you know it five o’clock rolls around and you’ve only managed to devote a couple solid hours to work.
So how do we move past the distractions and keep the work flow…flowing? I have come up with a few simple steps that I follow in order to keep myself focused and on task throughout my work day.
1 – Start out your day by going over your schedule. Write out what needs to get done by the end of the day and then prioritize those items by which ones need to be done the soonest. For example, if you have a blog post that needs to be written by tomorrow morning, put that on the top of the list. If you have to schedule an appointment for a client, but it can wait until later in the afternoon, put that farther down.
Does this make sense? Yes? Perfect.
By the end of this you will know exactly what tasks need to be accomplished by the end of the day and the order in which you should be accomplishing them. This also gives you time to breathe and collect your thoughts before diving into your work day – something I hold a lot of value in.
2 – Work for two hours and then give yourself a break. This is something that took me a loooong time to be OK with because for the longest time I would feel so guilty for allowing myself a break from work. Take it from me, it is more than OK to give your brain a break every two hours. You will be more productive, you will stay focused, and you will see the quality of your work improve.
When I work from home my days look like this:
8am: Wake up – morning routine
8:30am: Write out the tasks that need to be completed
9-11am: Work on to-do list items
11-11:30am: Break (read, go for a quick walk around the block, wash the dishes, etc.)
11:30-1:30pm: Back to work on to-do list items
1:30-2:30pm: Break for lunch / run an errand (see below)
2:30-4:30pm: Work on finishing up the last of to-do list items
4:30-5pm: Do something active (go for another walk, do an in home exercise routine, stretch, etc.)
5-6pm: Wrap up to-do list items – whatever is not completed goes on the top of the list for the next day
I end my day at 6pm*. Period. It is important to me that I try to be present when my husband comes home from work. This is a top priority. Just because my work is at home does not me that my work has to be endless. You will only hurt yourself by doing that. Burnout is not a pretty thing to experience when it comes to work. Trust me.
*I realize that some days this is unavoidable. Big projects with deadlines come up last minute and need to be completed. On these days feel free to skip out on your half hour breaks so you can get the job done and still have time to wind down before bed.
3 – Give yourself an errand to run everyday. This might sound a little strange but here me out. When I first started working from home I would keep myself inside my little apartment all day, every day. By the time my husband would get home from work I was like a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. I would immediately cling to him. Talk his ear off. Ask him what he wanted to do that night. Wonder why he wasn’t paying enough attention to me. And all because I had had zero human interaction throughout the day.
Don’t let yourself go stir crazy. Get outside at least once every single day. It keeps your headspace clear for what’s important. Usually at lunch I’ll walk down the street to Starbucks or I’ll run to a store and just walk around for a bit. Whatever it is just make sure it’s getting you out of the house and away from work for at least 30 minutes.
4 – Focus on one task at a time. This is major. Working from home can sometimes mean that we find ourselves working on four things at once. Writing an article, while engaging with our audience on social media, while emailing back and forth with clients, and maybe even designing your next Pinterest post. Whatever it is, we find ourselves doing it at the same time.
You wrote down your tasks for a reason. Do one thing at a time and you will find that it is so much easier to get that task done then it was when you were trying to complete it along with 14 other things. Everything will get done. It’s OK not to be a multitasker when it comes to working from home.
5 – If something’s not working for you, change it up. This is so important. No one will ever be perfect at everything they try to do. If something doesn’t feel right and it’s not working for you. Move on. You may try the tips I provided above and absolutely hate them. That is OK. Try something new. Keep figuring out new tools to through in your tool box that you can use and use effectively.
What helps you stay focused when you work from home? Let me know in the comments below! ??????