How to Stay Insanely Focused Working From Home
Updated: Apr 22
For many of us, working from home is officially here to stay. However, even though one would have thought we've all perfectly adapted to it by now, it appears as though many of our Dwellingright community have expressed the contrary.
Why is it so hard to focus sometimes?
In fact, many of our community have complained that they're still in search of a productive WFH routine, and that the prolonged period of of working remotely has affected their motivation.
To be honest, we totally get it. The absence of your boss breathing down your neck. The lack of energy compared to an environment where you can constantly bounce ideas with co-workers. A zoom call instead of a shared lunch break or a water cooler chat.
Not to mention, there's now a fridge, rowdy children, random noises, and endless pools of infinite content from Facebook and Instagram to scroll on as no one is monitoring you staring at your iPhone anymore.
To add to it all, uncertain and turbulent environments cause stress. And stress causes impaired concentration. So, it's definitely not just you that's suffering from a case of work blues once in awhile.
Nevertheless, there are a few tactics that we can explore to keep us insanely focused and on the ball. And yep that's right, we said insanely.
Make space and create mental associations
To start with, your subconscious stores up memories and associations, allowing you to operate on auto-pilot on a day-to-day basis. For example, when you sit inside a car you don't have to consciously think about it. Rather, your subconscious kicks you into auto-pilot and you just do it.
Similarly with with your working from home office, you want to just step into that space and feel like you're in the zone. You probably associated your previous work office with 'switch into office mode gear'. You probably even slipped on your special "professional personality". Now, you need to create a space at home where you can do the same.
Allocating dedicated physical space for your office, and assigning physical boundaries is important for productivity. You need to make it easy for your brain to move into work zone and back out into relax zone.
If you can, create a proper space for your official WFH study. Or if you live in a tiny NYC apartment, partitioning the room off with plants or a clothing rack, can really help your mind associate differently and kick-start your brain in the morning.
Also, make sure you separate spaces digitally. Try to reserve certain devices for work and personal use. Or if that's not possible, try to have separate windows for your work apps, so you aren't constantly triggered with work emails every time you check your iPhone.
Setting boundaries for your family, children, housemates and pets are also important. Get a "do not disturb sign" for your desk. Close your door. Clearly communicate your hours to those around you. It may feel a bit odd to do this at first, but trust me, it will definitely help lift your productivity during the day.
Also, make sure you invest in the right ergonomic equipment! We spend 8 hours at our desk every single day. Be sure to invest in an ergonomic mouse, the right type of keyboard, a sit-stand desk, the right lighting and a monitor. Experiencing pain and discomfort will mean we have negative associations with our workspace. Not to mention, it will cause injury to our bodies in the long term.
Organise your thoughts
Make sure you also create the space to organize your thoughts everyday. Create an 'ideas' notepad so you can capture any random thoughts and store them for later.
When you first start work everyday, you can also try organizing the tasks you want to do today on a to-do list or notepad, so you can hold yourself accountable to what needs to be done. You can also do this digitally, through a note-taking app or through Dwellingright.
Set realistic expectations and proper daily measurable goals so you know you can hit them each day. If there are large tasks that will take you a medium time horizon, break it down into little weekly and daily chunks so you can make progress each day.
In terms of maintaining focus and energy levels throughout the day, break things into small hourly or 2-hourly blocks. Take mini-breaks every little while, and larger snack and coffee breaks throughout the day. This will ensure your mind can return fresh to the task once it's been re-fuelled. Otherwise, if you're the type of person that can focus for 4 hours straight, then go ahead and knock yourself out!
Fuel your creativity
Creativity most certainly looks different working from home than back in the office. Have regular catch-ups scheduled in with your co-workers to bounce ideas, chit-chat and have new ideas stimulate your mind. Even the social engagement of connecting with your co-workers can really help kick-start your brain into action.
Respect your bio-rhythm and leave your most creative tasks to when you're most productive. For some of us, this is during the morning. And for others, it's during the night. Some people have their peak hour of productivity at 10am, whilst others prefer 8pm. Whichever it is, make sure you create time and space during those hours to complete your work.
Movement is also important. You'd probably normally walk to the metro or bus, or do some form of movement. And yeah we know that moving 2 meters down the corridor isn't the same thing. Take 10 or 15 minutes before starting your day to just stretch or do a light session of yoga or walking. It will have a huge impact on the way your body responds and performs for the rest of the day. Last but not least, taking breaks and focusing on other different tasks throughout the day can help your brain make random neuro-connections and fuel new ideas. We've all probably had brain waves whilst doing the dishes, or in the shower. Sometimes, when you're feeling a brain block, taking a break can really help All in all, working from home can be an even more productive setup than the office once you get it right. However, you have to bear in mind that each person operates in a different way, and what might be optimal for someone else, might not really work for you. Take the time to really understand your own strengths and weaknesses, so you can really construct the perfect working environment for yourself.