• Ryan M. Pierson

5 Ways to Stay Focused While Working at Home

When you’re working in a regular office, you’re usually surrounded by people you’ve built a relationship with over time. Conversations with coworkers (or customers) fill your day, which helps time pass faster and keeps your mind entertained while you work. Some jobs may be more boring than others, but they all pretty much share the same basic principles. A quiet environment can hinder productivity and promote seeking out distractions. While the suggestions below may all appear to be distractions on the surface, a small distraction can help you to avoid seeking out a larger one.

So, how do you stay focused while working at home?

Take Breaks One of the hardest things for new managers to understand is the importance of regular breaks for their employees. When you work at home, you are taking on the role of manager to yourself. It’s your job to make sure you’re maintaining productivity during your working hours, and part of that means forcing yourself to take regular breaks. This may include a lunch period between halves of your work day, but at least 15 minutes should be scheduled to walk away for every 2-4 hours you work. Yes, this may mean that your work day will be longer than exactly eight hours, but burning yourself out will do more to hurt your productivity in the long run.

Pandora, Rhapsody, and Spotify Pandora is a great way to introduce new music to your work day. Predictable and repetitious tracks can become boring very quickly, but Pandora keeps a large enough selection of music that you’re sure to be entertained throughout the day. Just tell Pandora your favorite artist, song, or genre and it will handle the rest. You can change stations very easily for a shift in mood and atmosphere around your home office.

Rhapsody and Spotify are great services that allow you to not only hear the latest album from a specific artist, but also create playlists that are customized to your tastes. All you need to do is type in what you’d like to hear and these services will play them. Unlike Pandora, Rhapsody and Spotify allow you more control over what you listen to.

Having music on in the background is a great way to get your energy level up and set a pace for your work. You may find that you work faster and focus more clearly if there is an upbeat techno song going than absolute silence.

Get a Pet Getting a pet such as a dog or cat can actually help relieve some of the boredom of working at home. Simply reaching down and petting your dog while pondering your next assignment can relieve stress without breaking focus on what’s important. Resting your eyes by glancing over at a fish or hamster is another good way to give your eyes a quick rest without being a major distraction in itself. Unlike Netflix or TV, a pet can usually exist next to you without grabbing your attention every few seconds.

Talk with Remote Coworkers Starting up a Skype call or Google Hangout with your coworkers is a great way to collaborate and form a much-needed connection during your work day. In some jobs, productivity thrives in an environment rich with communication. Be careful though, veering too far off topic can break concentration during times when you need to be absolutely focused.

Audiobooks This may not be for everyone. Audiobooks are great to have in the background when you’re doing repetitive tasks such as copying and pasting between documents or simple data entry. You may end your day with both a paycheck and having learned something new. I recommend sticking to non-fiction books that focus on the subject of your job. For example, a professional blogger may benefit greatly from having an audiobook about professional blogging or industry of interest in the background.

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