The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes in the workforce. One of the most significant ones is the dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. Workers who thought their positions could never be done remotely have found themselves doing exactly that for weeks and months. Like any change, the shift to online work has created some challenges, particularly the struggle to stay focused. Here are four tips on how to do that.
Dedicate Your Space
Normally, work is work and home is home. When those two circles overlap during telecommuting, it’s tough to keep your workplace organized and to keep your home from intruding on your attention. Before long, you can find yourself paying your bills at 10 am and answering client emails at 10 pm. You’ll feel like you’re never fully at work or at home.
Make a clean break. Have a space dedicated 100% to your work, with none of your equipment or materials elsewhere in the house. Keep all your home things out of that zone. When you’re off the clock, deactivate notifications and ringers so that you’ll avoid the temptation to “just check that one email”. Get dressed in the morning as if you’re actually going to the office so that you will be able to duplicate your routine as closely as possible.
Dedicate Your Time
When you found out you’d be working from home, you probably realized right away how convenient it would be to handle child care, package deliveries, and visits from contractors. And most of the time, it is fairly easy to keep these distractions in their places. At the same time, their potential to distract you and interfere with your productivity makes it essential to manage your time carefully. If you don’t, these things can clutter your entire day.
If the cable company is coming, request the most specific time they can give so that you aren’t constantly listening for the doorbell. Turn off or ignore package tracking notifications and just do one quick check before the day’s end. Explain to your kids that their virtual learning will be self-guided during certain hours. If you’re having work done on the house or landscape and might need to supervise a contractor, consider just taking the time off so that you can give it your full attention.
Get The Right Equipment
Communication problems can slow your work and allow distractions to creep in. Your internet service, computer, and telephone lines are essential for keeping you on task. If your job requires a lot of telephone work, you may have some options on exact models when you buy office headsets online. Choose one with good sound quality, comfort, and noise reduction. These characteristics are vital with the background noise and less ergonomic workstation layout you have at home. You might even choose to rent headsets so that upgrades are easier.
Think about your connectivity too. Check the speed of your internet connection, then ask your employer’s IT staff if it is fast enough for what you’ll be doing. You may just need to upgrade your router, but it may be necessary to contact your provider and check on a faster connection.
Prepare Your Mind
Your normal in-person work schedule probably includes more mental warm-up time than you realize. After leaving home, you do several things that get you into the right mental frame for work. Things like clocking in, greeting co-workers, and initiating your daily routine may not seem important until you’re not doing them.
When reporting to work is nothing more than walking from one room to another, it can be tough for your mind to register that you are on the job. Develop strategies for flipping that switch. It may be a quick video conference with co-workers, or it could even be something unrelated like working a word puzzle. Find whatever works to help you clear the morning fog and focus on work.
The ability to telecommute has saved jobs and lives. If you’ve been able to safely earn a living by working at home, you know how true that statement is. You also know how tough it can be to stay focused on work during work time and home during home time. With these easy tips, you can make that happen.