3 Simple Hacks to Stay Focused Working From Home (Updated!)

computer with zoom meeting and a coffee cup working from home

Working from home sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Being productive in your jammies and slippers seems like an amazing concept. But is it? Most all of us have tried working remotely during the pandemic, but there is definitely an art to being successful in working from a home office.

How Working From Home Affected Me

When I started working from home many years ago, I realized I had to develop a method that was regimented in order to get all of my work done. I was working from home as a freelancer so if I did not make money, I did not have any income at all. 

It quickly became apparent that I needed discipline in order to balance my life and still make a viable income to pay my bills.  I adapted the techniques of some of the most successful women around me and created a routine to fit my lifestyle. It works! I want to share them with you. 

1. Create A Morning Routine

A morning routine is essential if you don’t need to leave the house by a designated time.

Start by waking up on time like you normally would if you were going to an office. 

Most importantly, make your bed first thing. Making your bed in the morning sets the tone for your day. It also stops any thoughts of jumping back in for “just five more minutes.”

When you work from home the tendency to be distracted by clutter and personal tasks that you need to do are overwhelming. 

Whether it is dishes in the sink, a load of laundry or cleaning a room, the list goes on. The distraction level is high when that task is right in front of your face. One of those distractions can be an unmade bed. So, circumvent that task by waking up on time and making your bed.

Other parts of my morning routine include having a proper breakfast, a quick tidy up in the kitchen, and letting the dog out. These are small, but if they are left undone, they can be a distraction in another hour or so. 

2. Dress For Success - Even If You Are Working From Home

The second and most crucial part of being a successful work from home, is to get dressed as though you were going to a meeting every single day

Continue to do the same steps that you would normally do to get to the office and keep a time limit on these steps. If your alarm goes off at 6:30, you need to be ready to go out the door by 8:00 o’clock every day. Even if you are working from home, you need to be ready to start work by your designated time.

I always make sure I am dressed, accessorized, my makeup is done, and I am ready to walk out the door at a moment’s notice. By 8:00 o’clock I am sitting at my desk and working. You need to be this disciplined when working from home.

You are your only accountability, so make it happen. 

Even if you do not have any appointments on your schedule, when you work from home there are always phone calls that can come up and interruptions that will stop your day.

Many times, I will get phone calls from clients needing me to run out to a jobsite, stop by an office and pick a cabinet color, or reselect a flooring. When that phone call came in, I am always able to tell my client I will leave here in five minutes and be on my way. 

Perhaps they will call and ask to hop on a Zoom call in a few minutes. I am ready. This accountability gives your client confirmation that you are a professional.

3. Make A Plan & Stick To It!

Next you have to plan your day.

Every evening before I go to bed, I review my planner and I schedule my upcoming day.

My workday always starts at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. I take a mid-morning break and yes, I may start a load of laundry or run the dishwasher at that time but it is just a break and I know that it is 10 or 15 minutes and then I am right back at my desk. Being dressed for work helps this. Who wants to do housework when you are in business attire?

I also take a proper lunch break.

It is ideal if I can step away from my home for lunch. Whether I am running a quick errand or I literally go to meet some friends for lunch, I stop but I also keep an eye on the clock.

It is nice that I do not have to be back within an hour for a lunch break. One of the many benefits of working from home! I can stop and meet a girlfriend to catch up, spend an hour and a half if I want to. When I get back to my desk, I still have at least two to three hours of work that I need to complete before my workday is done.

woman eating lunch

One Final Word Of Advice...

The final word of advice to successfully working from home is knowing when your day is done.

I make a hard-and-fast rule for myself never to work past six o’clock unless I have a presentation that needs to be complete that night. Six o’clock is the absolute latest I want to be at my desk but most of the time it is more like two o’clock. Yes, two o’clock.

By the time two o’clock hits, I will turn off my computer, walk out of my office, and close the door behind me. I am done for the day. Only then will get changed into my casual clothes and go about my day and work on my personal things. 

The simple act of closing the door behind you really does stop you from going back and continuing to work. 

If your door is open and you walk by your office and either see a mess on your desk or even just see your computer open and on, it will invite you back to work. Maybe there is an email that you probably should answer or send. This disrupts your personal time.

You need to set clear boundaries from your work and your personal time.

If you are working at a small workspace in your living room or your bedroom, it is a little bit more challenging. However, if you have turned off your computer and tidied your desk as you leave, it is harder to just quickly sit down and do one more thing. Your desk is “put away” for the night.

clean desk with ipad and phone

It is really crucial to stop working at the end of your business day when you work from home. When I speak to people, that is probably the biggest complaint they have. There is no job-life separation and they just cannot stop working when they have a home office. That is really sad because working from home is so convenient and can lead to a healthier life for people and the environment. 

Be disciplined and you will love this new freedom of working from home.

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