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Working from Home: How to Stay Focused & Avoid Distractions

Distracted while working from home

Working from home can be challenging, especially if you're accustomed to the professional atmosphere of an office. But the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has left many of us with no choice - it may feel odd sitting up to the kitchen table and doing the things you'd normally be doing at your desk, but with lockdown measures still in effect throughout the UK, what can you do but get used to it?

Of course, it can be difficult to keep your productivity at its usual level when you're surrounded by all the comforts and distractions of home. Even if you don't have children to entertain or pets to look after, you may well be tempted to pop the TV on in the background while you work...or to pause for a conversation with your significant other...or to check Facebook a little more frequently than would be permissible in the office. You may even feel compelled to vacuum the carpet or tackle that pile of dirty dishes when you're supposed to be working!

[more]It doesn't help that we're living in very distracting times. COVID-19 is probably the biggest crisis you've lived through, and it's natural to want to keep an eye on the news and stay informed.

But whether it's the cat or the coronavirus, these distractions must be kept at bay if you want to remain productive right now. To help you stay focused, here are some tips from the team here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions...


Make a plan (and stick to it).

The urge to procrastinate is a constant threat when you're working from home, but you're at your most vulnerable when you finish a task and find yourself thinking: 'OK, what am I supposed to do now?'

Try to structure your days so that this never happens. Make a plan and stick to it as best you can - that way, you'll always know what you're doing next, and procrastination will have fewer opportunities to take hold.

You should also schedule regular breaks. Use your break time to relax, have a stretch, look at your phone, chat to your housemates, and do anything else you might otherwise feel tempted to do while working.


Stay off social media.

Without your boss looking over your shoulder, it's up to you to resist the temptation to spend all day looking at Twitter or Instagram. If you lack the willpower to stay away from your favourite social media sites, message boards and live news feeds, consider using a browser plugin like Chrome Nanny or StayFocusd to prohibit your non-work web activity.


Get the chores done outside of the working day.

We understand - it can be difficult to focus when there's a tower of dirty plates and bowls waiting to be washed, or when your surfaces are in desperate need of a wipe. But don't let housework enable your procrastination: get these jobs done in the morning or evening so that they aren't calling out to you during office hours.


Don't neglect your children and pets - plan for them.

COVID-19 has closed schools as well as workplaces, so if you're a parent, there's a good chance you're looking after your children full time right now. It can be very tricky to balance childcare with working from home, but it should be achievable.

When composing your work plan / schedule, be sure to account for the needs of your kids: when will they need to eat? Do they have enough activities to keep them occupied throughout the day? Will they be happy - and more importantly, will they be safe - if you leave them to amuse themselves while you're working? Have you made it clear that you're not to be interrupted during phone calls and Zoom meetings?

Careful planning is also important if you have pets in the house. Your dog, for instance, still needs food and regular exercise, so make sure your home working schedule allows for this.

Be sure to manage your employer's expectations. Let your boss know if you're looking after children and/or pets during work hours - since this juggling act is more than likely to put a dent in your productivity, it's far better to explain the situation beforehand instead of pretending you'll be able to work as consistently as you can in the office!


Pay attention to your posture.

Backache and neck pains are counterproductive. It's hard to stay focused when you're fidgeting around and trying to get comfortable, so make sure you sit up straight and maintain good postural health at all times. Find a working position that suits your body (elevate your screen if necessary) and when you take a break, be sure to stand up, have a stretch, and move around a bit.


Figure out what helps you to focus...and what distracts you.

Different things work for different individuals. Some people need silence when they're working; others find that music or ambient noise can actually help them to stay focused. Perhaps you can concentrate just as well on the sofa as you can at your desk, but if not, try to simulate your normal working conditions as best you can (e.g. sit up to the kitchen table instead of lounging in an armchair).

Working from home is always a challenge if you're not used to it, but if you're able to shut out those distractions and focus on your duties, the ride should be far smoother for it.

Looking for more advice? Read our blog on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance while working from home, or watch this video for 5 top tips from our Managing Director Ricky Martin!

Last updated 27 January 2021. Photo from Pexels.