Unless you’re in the medical profession or work at a supermarket or pharmacy, chances are you’re now working from home. Getting paid to stay in your PJs all day seems great in theory, but actually staying focused long enough to get stuff done when there are so many distractions around is a real struggle for many people. Here’s how to stay on task so you can be productive.
- Stick to office hours. If your job’s working from home structure is pretty slack — as in, you don’t have to report to anyone at 9 a.m. sharp and keep a manager/boss aware of what you’re up to — it might be tempting to sleep in and just chill a bit. Don’t do it! Staying focused while working from home relies very much on adhering to the routines you’ve always had at work, so keep that alarm set for its usual time and get out of bed, get a shower, get your coffee, etc. as usual.
- Wear some outside clothes. You can probably relax this rule after awhile, but while you’re establishing a new WFH routine, it’s probably better that you get out of your pajamas and into actual clothes. It doesn’t need to be white-collar business attire with a suit and tie or dressy blouse, but even a pair of jeans and a t-shirt will work—anything that differentiates your downtime from your work time will have a great mental benefit.
- Set up shop for work. Again, it’s probably tempting to lounge in bed and on the couch all day while “working,” but that’s just not good enough. One of the big keys to WFH productivity is having a space that you use as your office of sorts. Maybe you set your laptop up on your desk in your bedroom, or maybe it’s the kitchen table that has enough space to keep your setup. Wherever it is, use this place as your workspace every day because it will allow your mind to shift into work-mode when you’re there.
- Stay off social media. This is hard but it’s absolutely necessary, at least until you develop a workflow. You can literally waste hours a day on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc. which is fine when you’re not supposed to be working but a killer for productivity when you’re working from home. It’s impossible to stay focused on a task when you’re laughing at memes all day. Until you “clock out,” so to speak, maybe give social a miss.
- Leave the Netflix binges for after hours. Some people can work with TV on in the background but if you don’t watch TV at your day job when you’re in the office, you probably shouldn’t do it at home. It’s way too easy to get caught up in Marty’s drama on Ozark or who’s winning the lip sync battle on this week’s Drag Race and totally neglect your work. You have all night to veg out.
- Take a break. Just because you’re trying to stay focused doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take breaks while working from home. Not only is it unhealthy to stay sitting all day long but it’s also bound to tank your concentration. Get up for a few minutes every hour to stretch your limbs and get some air for a minute or two. Take your lunch break at its regular time and make yourself a healthy meal that you eat away from your computer — the dining room table or even the back yard, if you have one, can provide a different environment.
- Take it seriously. At the end of the day, you have to actually strive to be productive if you want any chance of it happening. If you view working from home as a makeshift vacation instead of a necessity in the very difficult times we’re in, that’s on you. However, attempting to keep a routine so that you’ll adjust better when your actual workplace does reopen in a few months’ time will really help you.