Working from home is excellent, and there’s a lot of benefits. Mostly you save a lot of time and money for a commute. You can spend more time with Your family and have more control over Your environment.
It all sounds so simple. Sit down and do the work. But it isn’t. There are one colossal problem and challenge to overcome. You have a problem staying focus.
It is way harder to stay focused when working at home versus your office or a coffee shop or wherever you usually do Your work.
The lack of separation between your work and your personal life, not to mention many additional distractions were floating around, which means that your home is kind of like the final boss of demanding workspaces.
How can you stay focused on your work when you’re working from home?
Intension to do You work
And first, we need to talk about intentionality. Potentially, the most useful thing you can do when you sit down to work is to set a strong intention first.
Rule of three
The right way of setting intentions is to follow the rule of three.
This is a concept for Chris Bailey’s book, The Productivity Project. And it’s relatively straightforward.
When you’re writing out your daily plan, choose no more than three meaningful tasks that you intend to get done.
If you write your daily list on a whiteboard, you might want to tweak how you use it by writing these three intentions at the top and then listing any smaller tasks below them in a prioritized way. Don’t worry about those until you get the main tasks taken care of.
Then when it’s time to sit down for a session of focused work, look at your list and choose just one item to work on.
Mentally commit to devoting this working session only to that item. And just like that, you now have a strong intention to guide you and keep you on task.
But since you’re at home, I would wager that your environment is teeming with distractions. And if your intentions are going to be translated into action, these need to be dealt with.
There’s just no getting around it. And that has to deal with how your brain is wired. That is because it renders us easily distracted when we’re trying to do complex work, even if we set a firm intention beforehand.
Meaningful work is hard because it requires us to tax our higher brain functions, we are naturally resistant to doing it, and we’ll take any excuse to fixate on something else.
It’s why marketers and advertisers talk so much about the AIDA framework. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.
It’s the order of operations that govern most of the actions we take, including the ones that lead us to indulge in distractions.
Also, if you don’t do Big Red, then, fortunately, you can use this knowledge of human psychology to your advantage.
Remove any potential distractions before you start working. Dealing with them ahead of time is infinitely more comfortable than trying to fight them at the moment.
Now, you’re not always going to be able to do this. Chris Bailey’s book, Hyperfocus breaks distractions down into four different categories based on whether or not you have control over them and whether you find them fun or annoying.
And those of you have no control over like loud colleagues, construction noises, or calls from your mom are hard to plan for ahead of time.
The best you can do is deal with them while keeping your original intention in mind and then getting back on track as quickly as possible.
The distractions that you can control can also be dealt with in advance.
Let’s start with your phone because it’s probably the worst offender.
How to avoid being distracted by a phone
Put it on, do not disturb. Use features like focus mode on Android or screen time on iOS to limit the time you can access distracting apps.
Unfortunately, sometimes this is not enough, and you need simply keep it out of arm’s reach.
A good option is to send a phone not to put it on your room’s other side.
Now it’s out of arm’s reach. Doing it disturbs my phone, does work as a regular phone, but everything else gets silenced along with all app notifications.
Your computer is also a substantial potential distraction, and that is mostly because it’s connected to the Internet.
Suppose that’s a particularly big problem for you. In that case, you might want to disconnect it when you don’t need it, either by disabling your Wi-Fi or by actually unplugging the Ethernet cable.
Close every messaging App
Don’t keep open email or instant messaging apps like Messanger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Teams, whatever it is, don’t keep any of these open while you are working.
These are constant sources of distraction by nature, but they also come with the additional social pressure that you feel to respond to a message when it comes in.
Good practice in only check an email at a specific time in the day and respond to everything in batches.
To remove other computer-based distractions, you can look into getting a distraction blocker that will block any websites or apps you put onto a block list. You can find suitable for You App here.
Cut Yourself from distractors.
Lastly, since you’re at home, ask yourself, are there any other potential sources of distraction that are particular pain points for you that you should address, like maybe your game consoles or temptation?
Well, if that’s the case, put the power cord in another room until you’re done with your work, make it inconvenient to access them, so you don’t do it impulsively.
Now, once you’ve taken care of all those distractions, the last thing you need to figure out how to do is to get rid of the resistance you feel towards starting.
Mental resistance to difficult tasks is a big issue.
Fortunately, you feel towards difficult tasks mostly only affect you at the beginning. Once you get into it, you build up momentum that overcomes that resistance.
So all you need to do is to reduce your resistance enough to get started. And you do this by making the task feel less daunting.
Now, the first method for doing that is to break down your tasks. In other words, narrow the scope of your intention.
Divide Your task into smaller ones
If those tasks feel too big, then simply break one down into smaller chunks. That way, you can pick one of those chunks and set it as your intention.
Plan exactly time limit to work sprint
Commit to working only for a specific time and making it low enough to feel resistance no longer.
So if 30 minutes feels like too much, then go for 15. Whatever time you decide to go with, set it on a timer, or put it on a timer app.
Using one of these tools creates a little bit of external pressure. So there’s one less thing that you have to rely on your willpower, your internal self-control to handle.
Now you have all the tools in the concepts that you should need to do some focused work. But if you’d like to see an example, here is exactly how I do it.
First, use the whiteboard, write down Your top three tasks separately from other smaller ones. If each of these is too big for a single work session, You can always divide them into smaller pieces.
Next, choose how long You are going to work, and lately, that has been about thirty-five minutes per session, at least for starters, which means that the next thing You do is set a thirty-five-minute block on a timer.
And these quick actions neatly take care of each one. And it’s worth remembering that all problems are like this. Once you’ve broken them down into smaller parts, you can solve them one by one.