The opportunity to work from home is a dream come true for most professionals. However, constant personal distractions can impact how effective you are during the workday. So here are a few tips to make sure you’re making progress and being as productive as possible.
1. Turn off distractions
Unplugging from your life is not a bad thing, especially when you need to be productive.
Stay off your phone and social media for personal use during your standard office hours as much as possible. Turn off the television that’s typically on in the background. If you feel like music is distracting, don’t listen to Spotify during the day (or take short Spotify breaks). If you eliminate as many distractions as possible, you will have a better chance of staying on task and getting ahead.
I’ve learned the best way to adjust from working in an office setting to working in solitude from your home is to create a similar environment.
Set up an office space for yourself. Get an office desk, comfortable chair, calendars, notepads, a dry erase board, and whatever you use on a normal basis. If you can set up a room as a home office––even better! It will be easier to work from your designated home office, and reduce the desire to clean the house, do laundry, or wash dishes.
By eliminating distractions, you won’t be in a space staring at all the personal tasks you need to accomplish or drift off on matters other than the business projects you need to finish.
2. Set daily goals
I always start my day with a to-do list.
First of all, being able to cross off projects from a list is so satisfying! Also, taking the time to layout your schedule each day can help you stay focused. Physically reviewing your list (or using a productivity app) every morning keeps each task top of mind and makes it less likely to be forgotten, especially for those last-minute, random requests from colleagues and clients.
Making a realistic list of projects I can accomplish each morning with perhaps only a handful of extra tasks that would be “bonuses” to finish, has been extremely effective.
3. Create specific time blocks
Set time goals throughout the day to stay motivated.
Whenever I have deadlines to hit or dread working on a specific project, I always set time-specific goals. I decide to work solely on that project for an hour straight and then switch work on a project I enjoy more for the next 30-45 minute time block. Creating time blocks for each item on your to-do list to work solely on one project will help you stay hyper-focused. Keeping your time blocks under an hour will also prevent you from getting bored or antsy.
4. Celebrate success to reinforce work habits
Celebrate small victories.
After I finish a task, I always celebrate. After finalizing a project or getting off a long conference call, treat yourself with a 10-15 minute break.
That’s when I make sure to stand up and move around to get the blood flowing, get a new cup of coffee and a snack, or fold the laundry in the dryer and start the next load. If you own a dog, this is a great time to let them out or enjoy a quick play break. Small breaks keep the day moving faster, and these celebrations are something to look forward to.
I would be lying if I said working from home is easy. The most important aspect of conquering distractions and staying productive is to be mindful of your surroundings. If you focus on work, remind yourself what needs to get done, and make sure to cancel out distractions to keep yourself moving, and you’ll adjust in no time.
Erin Stanton is the marketing and public relations manager at SalientMG, a New York-based consulting firm that provides nontraditional go-to-market strategies and executive visibility for underrepresented professionals. A devoted marketing professional, Erin utilizes her blended background of sales, marketing, communications and project management to leverage best practices and provide valuable advice for young professionals struggling to break into the market. Erin graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in marketing, Roll Tide!
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