From the very first day of my professional career, I have always loved the idea of working from my own home. At the beginning I thought it's all about freedom, flexibility, peace, quiet and staying in your pyjamas for the whole day ;) This image was in my head until I really started working from home... I have to admit that, indeed, it is all these things, but it is also constant distractions and infinite search for creative ways to fight them.
These are my ideas how to keep yourself motivated and do not procrastinate while working from home.
Pomodoro technique - manage your time like a pro
I have always loved multitasking, doing hundreds of things at the same time. While it is usually quite useful, when it comes to my work, it isn't the most effective approach. After a long search I found the Pomodoro Technique, implemented it and my results got better. Now it is easier for me to fall into the creative flow when I need to. I have also noticed that time flies much faster for me when I use it. Right now, even when writing this article, my pomodoro timer is on, so believe me once you try it, you won't quit ;) Here is a short infographic how does it work. For more detailed description read below.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method of managing your time invented by Francesco Cirillo. The idea is to focus yourself on one task only for a specific, short period of time. The author of the method suggests 25 minutes. In simpler terms, you get a task, set a timer for 25mins (one pomodoro) and start working only (and I mean only) on your task. After the timer sets off, you can get a 5-10mins break to grab a coffee, take a short walk or do anything else you want. After 4 pomodoros, you can take a longer break (half an hour or more) and do something else like having lunch, excercising or taking a nap. The great advantage about the pomodoro technique is that you can adjust it to your needs. At the beginning it can be quite hard to focus on one thing for 25 minutes. It requires a lot of strong will. When I first implemented the technique, I started with 10-minute pomodoros, slowly increasing the time, until I got to 25 minutes, which is a perfect time to keep your focus, yet not get bored or discouraged. During your pomodoro time, you should only think about your task, so if a new idea comes to your head during these 25 minutes, don't start doing it, just write it on a small piece of paper, so you won't forget and get back to it in a new pomodoro.
Finish your chores the day before
Do you know this feeling when the laundry calls you? Or when you suddenly feel like you can't stand the dirty dishes in the sink anymore? These moments when you can barely contain yourself from doing your daily housework? For me, so it happens that I only feel it when I work from home. For many years I have learned that the only way for me to get rid of the urge to clean my whole apartment when I'm working from home is to do most of my chores the day before.
Now, whenever I plan a home office day, the evening before I try to take care of most of my housework. I start the laundry, do the dishes, clean the kitchen etc. Of course, it's not always possible to do all these things the day before, at least try to do the most obvious ones and just hide the rest of them well :P It is much easier to stay concentrated in a clean and tidy room. No distractions = more work done.
Schedule your meetings for your home office day
You probably wonder why would you do that. Isn't it easier to have the meetings in person? In today's world of digitalism, online meetings are very easy to do as long as both sides have good connection. When there are people that depend on you, it's always easier to motivate yourself and have better results. That's why if you can have a meeting online then have it when you work from home and I guarantee that your motivation will be high, if not for the whole day, at least during your meeting. The other reason is that home office might get boring which can easily disperse your focus, which is the exact thing we are trying to avoid here. So having someone to talk for a couple hours during your day will be very good. We don't like disappointing other people, so having them close even online will help you stay on the right track.
Prepare your workspace beforehand
Before you start doing the actual job, it is good to prepare anything you might need and have it at an arm reach distance. Grab your coffee, water, snacks, notepad, couple pens, your charger and everything else you might need at some point of your day and bring it close to your workplace. By doing that you prevent yourself from getting up every 5 minutes just because you forgot something.
Do not disturb mode ON
When I start working no matter if at home or office, I always turn the do not disturb mode on my phone and turn off all the notifications I don't need on my computer. The reason for that is that constant notifications, emails, messages destroy my focus. I look at my phone with every beep and lose my flow. It is important especially when you work from home because when you pick up your phone to check one notification...BOOM...it's already one hour later that you spent swiping through facebook. At the office it is less likely to happen because we don't feel that comfortable with all the eyes watching us, still it's dangerous not to get distracted. Of course, you might be wondering what about the important, work related notifications or calls I might get during home office. All smartphones have the option to make exceptions on your do not disturb mode. When I turn mine on, I always allow calls that are made twice because it means that someone really needs to reach me or calls from my family or coworkers. You can also turn off notifications separately in every app. The options are countless, you just need to take advantage of them.
Plan your most favourite task for home office day
While doing something you really enjoy, you will be happier and won't have a problem focusing. And obviously that's what we aim at when working outside the office. If you can, make sure that your work from home tasks are enjoyable and light for you and you won't have any problems with procrastination. Personally I always leave most of my creative work for home work day so I can dive into content creation without anyone disturbing me every 5 minutes. And when I do that at home, even the laundry calling me won't make me get up from my desk because I simply enjoy it :D
Swap your home for a cafe or a coworking place for a couple of hours
Sitting alone for many hours can be really exhausting and demotivating. Every time I work from my place, I like to visit a coffee place when I can work and enjoy the atmosphere of other people around me and the taste of great coffee, even for just an hour. Very often it also helps me see a new perspective, meet great people, exchange ideas with them or simply have an enlightening conversation. Never underestimate the power of a group of strangers. Working like that is an amazing experience you don't want to miss.
Start your morning well
During my years of working from home I have noticed that the way I start my morning on these days has a huge influence on my attitude towards my tasks. If I wake up early and well rested, I'll go running or do some excercises, eat a decent breakfast or read a book for a couple of minutes, my thinking process is more effective, my energy level is higher and I approach all my problems with a more positive attitude. That's why I started implementing the miracle morning routine. It also works when I go to the office, but it is essentially important for me when I stay at home. It makes me more focused, relaxed and happier. You can read more about miracle morning routine here.
Working from home can be a successful adventure, filled with great results and positive vibes. I enjoy my time spent at the home office, because I can relax, unwind my mind, stay in my pyjamas and still deliver results. I won't deny that I do try to procrastinate a bit from time to time, but now I've learned how to deal with it. Just a single one of these ideas might not solve all your problems, but if you combine them together, your work from home days will become something you definitely look forward to.
Try the things I mentioned and let me know how they worked out for you.
Do you have any interesting ideas to help you keep your focus when working from home?
Happy home office days!