How to work from home without losing your focus

Do you find you lose your focus when working from home? Working from home can be the most liberating way you have ever worked, leading to a great work rate and love of your job. Or it can be a complete drain on your productivity and leave you unable to focus. In reality you will find the working from home experience somewhere between those two extremes. My top tips below will help you to work from home without losing your focus.

The Office of National Statistics carried out a survey in early 2019 and found that only 1.7 million people (around 5% of UK employees) regularly worked at home,  rising up to 8.7 million people (less than 30% of UK employees), who have ever worked from home.

In March 2020 we were asked by the UK Government to work from home wherever possible due to the Covid19 pandemic. This will have led to a huge increase in the number of people working from home and will have a profound impact on the way we work now, and in the future. With many people using this situation as an opportunity to get to grips with the technology and tools that makes working at home possible, its hard to see us fully going back to our working arrangements of pre-Covid19.

If you are new to working from home how are you coping? I love working from home, but sometimes I find it challenging to buckle down and be effective. I’ve put together my top tips for making sure I have a productive day. I hope they help!

Tip 1: Set up a dedicated work area

At home it can be tempting to slob on the sofa, laptop on your knee and paperwork strewn around you.  This might sound like a great way to work, but it can play havoc on your mind and body.  Having a dedicated workspace, ideally a desk or even just space at the dining table set up for you to work, gives you a place to go so that you know you are in work mode. Also slobbing on the sofa is not good for your posture and you’ll soon be feeling aches and pains as a result.

Picture of desk
My desk at DanumVA

Tip 2: Carry out your own Display Screen Assessment

Have a good look at your work set up (hopefully a desk or table, see Tip 1!) and cast a critical eye over it. Think about your posture, how the equipment is set up, are you comfortable? Remember you’re going to spending a lot of time working so it’s important you get this right.  The HSE have a handy checklist for carrying out a Display Screen Equipment Assessment (that’s Health & Safety speak for reviewing your desk set up). While this checklist talks about the regulations, you don’t need to have a comprehensive understanding of the regs to use it, just use the prompts as a way to cast an eye over your arrangement and make any improvements you identify.  Trust me, your body will thank you for it at the end of a long working day.

Ergomomic Posture
Set up your desk to reduce aches and pains

Tip 3: Be triggered

Mug of Coffee

Have a little ritual or trigger to signal to your brain that its time to work. Whether its getting dressed in work clothes (well we can’t stay in our pyjamas all the time), putting your background music on, or (my favourite) making a brew in your special work mug, it helps to switch your brain on to the fact that its time to settle down and do some work.

Tip 4: Be sociable

Working from home can be lonely, especially if you are used to a busy work environment. Plan to catch up with colleagues, clients and suppliers regularly. Even if your work has slowed down at the moment, checking in on your contacts will keep your relationships fresh for when the world returns to normal.  Many of us have discovered the joys of Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, use these tools to have a virtual coffee and chat with your contacts.

Woman on video call
Catch up with your contacts

Tip 5: Structure your day, including breaks

Workplaces tend to have a rhythm of their own and you find yourself structuring your day around meetings, deadlines and natural breaks. When working at home with no interruptions it can be easy to try and work for as long as possible with no break away from the task in hand. This will make you more tired and unfocused in the long run. Try to plan some structure to your day: a simple to do list setting out your priorities, a work schedule (including breaks) and planned video or phone meetings will help to keep you focused all day.  Remember to have an end to your working day! Just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean you have to work all the time you are at home.

Diary
Plan your day, including time for breaks

Once you have got yourself a workspace comfortably set up, structure your day, planned your time and arranged some time to speak with people then you will be in a great position to get stuck in and do some quality work!! Remember to follow these top tips to help you work from home without losing your focus.

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