December 3, 2018

How to Stay Focused When Working From Home


If a 9-5 office job doesn’t inspire you, then the flexibility of working from home might be perfect for you. When you can set your own schedule and create your own routine, you may find your productivity grows by leaps and bounds.

However, working from home isn’t an automatic home run. You need discipline, strategy, and boundaries to ensure you get work done and continue performing at a high level.

If you want to set yourself up for success as a remote worker, do these six things:

1. Create a Workspace

Think about where you work best. This might not necessarily be a desk. Working from home gives you scope to find where you’re most comfortable and productive. You might be the type who likes to work from the comfort of your sofa or a window seat at the local coffee shop.

When you set up your workspace, be sure you do so in a way that reinforces your productivity. You want your home office to work for you. Remove distractions, create a layout that supports efficient workflows, and cultivate an environment that keeps you in the zone.

2. Set a Schedule and Stick to It

One of the major benefits of working from home is being able to choose your own hours. This means you can easily fit your work schedule around childcare, appointments, and other commitments.

However, your responsibilities at home can easily eat into your work time. To avoid this, set as rigid a schedule as possible around your work. Inform family and friends that even though you’re home, you won’t be available to chat or spend time with them during certain hours. Setting these boundaries will give you time to work uninterrupted so you don’t end up putting in extra hours over the weekend to catch up.

3. Keep Track of Your Tasks

Keep a record of all the things you need to do in a given period. This will help you track your own productivity, which is vital to your success as a remote worker.

You might enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off completed tasks on a to-do list, or you may prefer to organize everything in your online calendar. Choose whatever system works for you.

As you track your tasks, make note of how long each one takes you to complete. This can help you locate potential problems in your setup or methods. If a simple task seems to be taking way too long, you know something’s not quite working with your schedule or workspace. Then, you can take steps to pinpoint and address the issue.

4. Limit Distractions

The temptation to check social media or catch up on the latest news can be hard to resist. If you are constantly checking emails or responding to instant messages, you and your work could benefit from some offline time. Set your devices to airplane mode and focus solely on making progress on the task at hand. You might be surprised how big a difference getting rid of those little distractions can make to your productivity.

5. Dress for Success

There’s no problem with working in PJs, but if you have an important client call coming up, you might want to slip into something a little less comfortable. The psychological impact of dressing as if you were meeting the client face-to-face will help you adopt a more professional demeanor for the conversation.

6. Take Your Breaks 

Taking regular breaks is good for both your productivity and your health. However, it can be easy to forget all about break time when you’re working from home.

For every hour you spend sitting at your computer, take a 5-10 minute break to rest your eyes and reinvigorate yourself. Something as simple as making yourself a cup of tea can be just what you need to get reenergized for the tasks ahead.

Working from home can be a very enjoyable lifestyle, but you’ll only succeed if you have the discipline and the strategy to do it right. Follow the above tips, and you’ll find a perfect, productive work/life balance as a remote professional.

Steve McGerr is the head of direct commercial for Hiscox UK.

Read more in Telecommuting

Steve McGerr is the head of direct commercial for Hiscox UK. Having joined Hiscox in 2002, Steve has previously worked in claims, underwriting, and regional management roles. Steve has a wealth of experience working with businesses and understanding their insurance needs. Steve is ACII qualified and a Hiscox Partner.