A lot of people have benefited from the shift to home based work setups. Being able to work from home means doing away with long commute hours and having more free time to focus on some long-delayed personal projects. On the other hand, many have also struggled to adapt, especially among those who are engaged in creative work.
There are many reasons for this. Some may find managing their own time challenging and fail to establish a healthy routine, while others may find it hard to set boundaries between work and home responsibilities, making them prone to overworking.
All these can affect your mindset and develop into anxiety which can be detrimental to your capacity to innovate. If you’re one of the millions of creatives who feel the need to retake control and establish a sense of balance in their work-from-home mentality, like 75% of the workforce, here are some helpful tips for keeping your focus while working from home.
Schedule your breaks
Rest is essential for your mind to process what you learned. To keep your creative juices flowing, be sure to make time for it. And by break, that means no social media, gaming, or any other aggressively stimulating mental activity. Allow your mind to wander and be idle. Find some relaxing activity like meditating, learn muscle-calming exercises, or simply do nothing at all. A break will also help you conserve energy for more mentally demanding tasks later.
Create a conducive work environment
Where you work affects how well you work. Because it affects your focus and concentration, your workspace can even influence whether you complete anything at all. But before you set up shop in your living room, determine what type of work environment you thrive in. Are you the type of person who likes to work in near silence or can you tolerate chatter and a low noise level? Opt for a low-traffic area in the house and let your family know to respect your working hours. It will be helpful to establish some ground rules that can help you keep your precious focus even when the kids are around.
Respect your workspace
If possible, don’t let pets and kids in. You don’t want your toddler doodling all over valuable notes and documents or the dog accidentally unplugging cables during an important meeting. Another thing is not to eat where you work. Crumbs can invite insects which may harm your devices. Eating while working can also leave gunk all over your keyboard and work area which is not only unhygienic but also makes the space less motivational and inviting to the senses. It’s easy to lose your focus, working from home or not, when your space is full of clutter so keep your workstation tidy as much as possible.
Schedule your distractions
Do you have the habit of checking your inbox every five minutes? Can’t seem to keep your hands away from your phone every time a notification pops up? Immediately responding to stimulations like these erodes your self-control and trains your brain to be impulsive. So, if possible, try to keep all that within a limit. Dedicate a certain time of day where you can check all your social media accounts and emails. To make it harder to get tempted, keep your gadgets away from your room or turn them off.
Co-work with friends
Doing something with someone just seems more fun and motivational, even if that means working. According to Harvard Business Review, people find coworking meaningful. Having a co-worker, personal or virtual, fosters a sense of community. Seeing somebody else go after a goal is also a helpful push for some people to chase after that intimidating task they’ve been putting off all week.
Schedule a “Focus” Hour or Day
The flexibility of working from home is a double-edged sword for creatives who are easily distracted. Partly due to the fact that you can basically do whatever you want whenever you want as long as you meet deadlines. But to many, that only leads to more procrastination. To make sure you get things done while keeping the quality of your work topnotch, schedule a focus hour or focus day. This will prime your brain to prepare for deep work or a period of intense focus where you are highly engaged in a task mentally. It ensures that you get anything done within a work sprint and not just any work but high-quality, well-thought-out work that is necessary for your job satisfaction.
Have at least one morning ritual
Having a routine keeps you centered. It lends you a feeling of stability. Calmness of the mind is an ingredient for most creative work. You need all your mental resources focused on a task instead of worrying about a hundred other things that rob you of your productivity. A morning routine can be as simple as brewing your own cup of coffee or doing 5 minutes of meditation.
Know when you are most productive
What time of the day do you have the most energy? Knowing your biological prime time (BPT) will help you take advantage of your peak productive hours and turn them into creative output. To get a clear picture of your BPT, record your energy and productivity levels every hour for two or three weeks.
Be intentional with your time
Plan your day. Download a goal management app to plan all your goals and tasks in one place. Or, simply write down your To-Do list on a piece of paper. The act of planning is a powerful motivation tool to help you visualize your intentions and to guide those intentions into real actions. But more than its inherent motivational advantage, planning is essential for helping you foresee challenges in your creative work and to prepare for them. It also ensures that you are working on the right priorities over low-impact activities.
Creativity suffers when attention is jeopardized. Thankfully, focus can be hacked. If you’re having trouble keeping your mind focused while working from home, apply these tips to retrain your brain towards meaningful work.
Karen writes about personal productivity, goal setting, and positive habit building at Life Intelligence Group. You can follow her on LinkedIn.
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