We’ve been hearing the phrases “Stay home” and “Stay safe” repeated everywhere for the last few weeks. Many companies have joined in to do their part in adherence to this directive and now have their employees working from home or working remotely. To many, this is a dream come through, but to others, what they may have thought of as an exciting escape from the office has turned out to be harder than they imagined. Two of the the top questions I hear all the time are, how can I stay focused while working from home? And how can I increase my productivity when working from home? To help you answer these two questions I will share my 5 tips to maintain focus when working from home.
I am no stranger to working from home as I had to do so for a while when I was recovering from a surgery. Through that experience, I learnt a few things that helped to maximise my productivity so I could actually get things done.
Here are my top 5 work form home tips:
1 Plan Ahead
This is might be the most important tip and even though this list is not in order of importance, I made sure to put this first. Planning ahead is critical. This allows you to make the best use of your time and minimise time wasted. It helps you to zoom in on the things that are most important. It is important for focus or else you will spend most of your day doing possibly many tasks in a round about manner.
I will share a key part of my experience when I was employed to a company that utilised the Scrum framework. The scrum framework in simple terms, is a way of dissecting complex problems into small tasks you complete incrementally towards a very specific goal. My learnings from that experience has rolled over into my current lifestyle. Using the concepts from this framework, my suggestion is to make a task board. This is a board similar to the ones used in an agile lab. You can divide the board into categories as shown below:
Tasks: you list all your major tasks or “problems” that you have to complete or solve. This is essentially the end goal.
To-do: you break your big tasks into small bite size jobs. This is to solve your big “problem” in increments.
In-Progress: This column is where you put all the tasks from “To-do” that you are currently working on.
Review: Once you have completed the task in "In-Progress", move it over to review. You can review it either as soon as you are done or you can set a specific review time.
Done: YAY! Your tasks have been reviewed and you are comfortable with the finished product!
At the end of each day, take some time to update your board so as soon as you wake up in the morning you know exactly what needs to be done!
Using this system has really helped me to keep focused! I especially love the fact that I tear apart complex tasks into smaller more manageable ones. Sometimes I will work on two tasks from two separate projects at the same time because breaking things down like this allows me to see overlaps that can be done together!
Let me know if you try this system! Leave a comment below or send me a message on instagram @petitsquares!
2 Set work hours
One of the cool things about working at home (depending on your job) is that you have more flexibility. You may get the chance to set your working hours. Some persons won’t have this luxury because though they work from home, they still have to start and end at the regular time. If you are one of the persons that can now adjust your working hours you should do so. Set defined start and end times. It is so easy to get distracted and have a haphazard type of working situation when at home. Routines sometimes are good, especially when it comes on to doing work. This will allow your brain and body to get used to doing things at a certain time and it tricks your mind to focus. If everyday you start and end at a different time or stop and restart, your brain can become confused and you will easily become disorganised. That is a recipe for stress.
Find a time that works well for you and stick to it!
3 Dedicate a section in your home as your workspace
There is a reason our brain switches gear when we walk into our workplaces. Our brain has associated that space with “work”. When we leave our mood shifts. When we enter our bedroom, yet again, our mood changes. This is a key point to note. If we are trying to maximise our productivity and focus at home we need a work space. When we have a dedicated workspace we trick our brains into shifting gear. This space will turn “on” work mode and when we exit this space it will turn it “off”. I suggest keeping away from the bed when making your work at home space choice. If you work from home on your bed your brain will make a connection between your bed and work. You might find yourself eventually developing sleeping problems because your “off” space is also your “on” space. This may also cause confusion making it that much harder to focus.
4 Keep away from social media and the news
I am sure you have heard this many times and the reason you have is because, let’s face it, it’s true. If you want to maximise your productivity or increase your focus, you simply cannot invite distractions. One of the biggest distractions in our modern-day life is social media. Now, coupled with everything that is happening, the news is also quite a huge distraction and a source of stress. While it is important to keep up to date with what’s going on and to keep in contact with friends and family, manage your social media and news consumption. At work we have breaks, similarly we can take breaks at home (just don’t take too many). On these breaks we can take a peek. My other suggestion is to create a reward system. Challenge yourself to focus on moving tasks over on your task board and you can reward yourself with social media time. My last suggestion is simply to keep off the media until your workday is done.
If we want to maximise productivity we just have to do what works and what doesn’t work is spending all day scrolling.
5 Drink Matcha!
Matcha is the drink of productivity. There is absolutely nothing else on the market that I have tried that has helped me to focus more than Matcha. While employed as a Business Analyst, my most stressful periods were at the end of the month and the end of the quarter. I had endless amounts of reports and a limited amount of time to complete them. During these periods I would always have my PetitPoppers on hand because focus was a must. I used to simply shake a PetitPopper in a bottle of water and drink it or I made a warm Spicy Refresher in the mornings before work. That would be enough to keep me focused throughout the day.
Now, how exactly does Matcha help you to focus? This has to do with how the amino acid L-theanine interacts with caffeine. Both of which naturally occurs in the green tea plant. Due to this interaction, the body has a sustained level of calm alertness, increased cognitive ability and decreased levels of stress for an extended period after consumption. For most it's 4-6 hours, for me it is about 6-7. This characteristic makes it easier for one to focus on various tasks.
If you are new to Matcha you might be worried because you saw the word Caffeine. Well, no need to worry. Unlike coffee, Matcha has the amazing amino acid L-theanine that balances out the caffeine in Matcha. So you won’t have that jittery feeling, instead, what you will have is a feeling of calmness and concentration. The Japanese describes it as calm alertness. When I did my tea ceremony classes, my sensei informed me that Matcha was the drink that the Monks and Samurais had each time they were to meditate. It was important because it allowed them to focus while keeping them alert and enabled their bodies to fully relax.
This is something I too have personally experienced whenever I drank Matcha so I swear by it. Any time I know I have important tasks to get done I make sure I have my cup ready! Here are five more reasons you should drink Matcha when working from home.
I hope these work from home tips helped you! Please share these tips with someone who you think might benefit from reading them! Which tip was your favourite? Do you have any additional tips to share with me? What do you do to stay focused? Let me know in the comment section below!
Lastly, I happened across another Jamaican who shared her work from home tips in a recent blog post. You can give it a read by clicking here!