Photo by Jess Harding
Lately, I've been coming across comments from people who are finding it hard to stay focused and organized as they work from home or run a business from home. For a minute, a lot of people rejoiced at the idea of staying at home, not having to put make-up on and being able to have the TV on in the background as they worked. But not so much anymore these days. And really, who are we kidding? Can you really watch TV and work at the same time?
Now more than ever, it's difficult to set the boundary between your home life and your work life. Maybe there's a crying baby or a dog that needs to go out. Or a meal waiting to be cooked. All of that combined makes it harder to stay on task. And not all of us have the luxury of owning a home office. To help you survive working from home, here are three quick tips you can do now to help you find your focus, organize your thoughts and increase your productivity.
Set your priorities
Before you dive into the work week or month, make sure to set your goals and prioritize your projects. But even if you're reading this in the middle of the week, you can take a pause and do this. Some people love using productivity tools like Asana (my personal favorite), Trello or Monday. Or, if you're like me who believes in the power of writing things down, grab a piece of paper and write your goals and projects and their deadlines and put it somewhere you'll see everyday. From there, you can prioritize what you need to do on a daily basis. Without an office or other people keeping you physically accountable, it's important that you have a system in place that helps you prioritize what you need to accomplish. This will also prevent you from drowning in a sea of post-its.
2. Put on your headphones and turn up the music
This is especially useful if you don't have a home office and share your space with other people. Ideally, you have a dedicated work space. But sometimes, even a dedicated work space isn't enough to keep you focused. Chores may distract you. TV may distract you. An Amazon delivery may distract you. So, put your headphone on and use it as your "do not disturb" sign. The music then helps you auditorily create a working zone. When choosing a playlist, make sure that it's not something that will distract you. It's a little weird, but I love listening to gamma binaural music on YouTube - it's kind of like the music you hear at spas when you're getting a massage, but the frequency of it is supposed to help you concentrate. I kid you not, this type of music alleviated my writer's block. Alternatively, there's also some amazing lo-fi music on both YouTube and Spotify if you want to feel like you're someplace else cooler than your living room/make-shift office. Starbucks also has their own playlists on Spotify to level-up your coffee-breaks.
3. Use time blocks with the help of the Forest app
This app basically gamifies your ability to focus. The app describes itself as "...an app helping you stay away from your smartphone and stay focused on your work." Basically, you set a timer for how long you need to concentrate and when you don't break your concentration during that time frame, you see a little tree grow. Forest actually partners with a real-tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees when users spend the virtual coins they earn in Forest on planting real trees - pretty cool. When I work on projects that are paid hourly, I have a desktop tracker on and I feel like I'm twice as much more productive. Using time blocks has been proven to increase productivity. Check out this article from Monday to learn more.
Let's get to work! Happy Monday.