5 ways to successfully work from home and stay focused

Any entrepreneur who spends most of their days working from home knows the struggle of finding the right balance, staying on track and having not just “busy” days — but actually “productive” ones. (There is a huge difference!) We have all spun our wheels and wanted to pull our hair out, between checking and responding to emails, client-getting activities like blogging and posting to social media, doing actual client work, invoicing and more. What is most important to do? What can wait until tomorrow or next week? 

If you find yourself asking these questions, along with wondering when the best time to throw in some laundry is and figuring out what’s for dinner, I have a few tips that might help break up your day, allowing you to be more productive and avoid the distractions that working from home can bring. And don’t worry, we have all been there and I am still there many days. Although you can work from the comfort of your bed, couch, kitchen counter or office desk, you should still treat your at-home setup (whatever it looks like) like you’re at an office. It’s all about holding yourself accountable, being disciplined and mostly, mind over matter…

1) Get up at the same time everyday and get ready, just like you would when going to your day job. 
This is a simple piece of advice, but it’s so important and true. Set your alarm and get up at the same time everyday, starting your day with a specific routine. This might look like making coffee, perusing Facebook, getting your news via your favorite morning news or Twitter or working out. And, I realize that not everyone is a morning person. (Honestly, I’m not always!) So, whether getting up looks like 6 a.m., 7 a.m. or even 9 a.m., just set the alarm for the same time every weekday. And, get dressed. While I live in yoga pants, with my hair in a messy bun, the point is to get out of your PJs and into whatever you prefer/that is comfortable to work and be productive in. (And of course, if that means staying in your PJs, then by all means, do it!) Changing into a certain outfit is just a signal to your brain and body that you’re making the transition to starting the day and getting into work mode. 

2) Set a specific schedule.
To piggyback off of getting up at the same time everyday, you need to also set a schedule. It might be a little different each day, but certainly set yourself up with some kind of structure and routine. Maybe Mondays and Fridays look the same and you handle admin or business development tasks like answering or filing emails, writing blog posts, posting to social media, engaging in Facebook groups, etc. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays could consist of a mix between client-getting activities and client work. (This is just an example, of course.) Whatever you decide, designate certain blocks of time for certain tasks and each week, try to stick to a consistent schedule. This will help you to be more disciplined and you’ll be better prepared, knowing what to (mostly) expect from one day to the next. 

3) Designate an “office space.”
One of the best perks of working from home is that you can literally work from anywhere. Whether you’re at home, or even in the coffee shop down the street, you’re good to go as long as you have your laptop and Wi-Fi. While this is a great benefit, it’s also important to figure out the spot that you seem to be the most productive and focused. Not everyone has a room in their house or apartment for an “office” — but even if it’s your kitchen table — that’s perfectly okay!  The point is, to simply have a certain spot, corner, room or area where you work the best. Go there everyday, so that you’re working in the same fashion everyday and getting what you need done. 

4) Give yourself a lunch break or small breaks throughout the day.
This is one that I’m guilty of NOT doing everyday. We can’t be slaves, strapped to our computers all day, drowning and not being able to come up for air. It’s crucial and healthy that we stop and take at least a couple of breaks throughout the day. First, you need to stop and eat some kind of lunch. You need fuel in your body, so that you can even function. With that, remember to get up out of your chair, stretch, workout, take a walk, or fix yourself a few small and healthy snacks during the day. You’ll be able to return to your work with better focus and recharged energy!  

5) End at a set time everyday, so that you can disconnect from your work.
This might be one of the most important things to do for your workday at home. And, it’s a very difficult one for most (including me.) Stop at a certain time at the end of each day and cut yourself off from work. While it’s easier said than done, it’s important to disconnect from the work and focus on your normal reality and home life. If you’ve worked hard all day and put in the hours that you need, you need to end the day with maybe the same task everyday — this might be checking emails or planning your next day’s list of to-dos. It’s also a good idea if it’s something that is somewhat “mindless” and easy for you to do — so perhaps not client work. You need to decompress and let your brain start to rest from the full day. If you end around the same time, with the same task, it will be easier for you to unwind at the end of each day and then prepare yourself to be present for the rest of your day/evening. This might be cooking dinner, spending time with your friends, family, roommates or significant other, going to the gym, doing laundry, reading or watching your favorite TV show lineup. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that brings you joy!       

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