This is a guest post by Saskia Smit, a freelance writer and founder of career blog My Kind of Monday, which focuses on helping people find happiness in work and in life.
Working from home sounds like a dream to most people. No boss to deal with, co-workers to distract you, and no need for uncomfortable office clothing. You get to decide how and when you work, and what’s best is that you can do it all in your pajamas.
Nothing could be more relaxing, right? Well, not really.
When you start working from home, you soon begin to realize just how difficult it can be to stay on top of your workload and stop getting distracted. While you may not have co-workers keeping you from work, you do have other distractions such as the internet, chores, and friends and family dropping by for an impromptu visit.
If you’re struggling to survive working from home, the following infographic offers plenty of tips to help you get your head in the game, improve focus, and boost productivity.
Tips on maximizing productivity while working from home
The Right Music, The Right Task
Using music to boost your productivity can work wonders, but you need to choose your timing and the type of music you listen to carefully. Choose the wrong music and task, and you could end up distracted and even less productive than without any music on at all.
According to research, repetitive tasks that are clearly defined and do not require lots of creativity are ideal. While complex tasks that require learning demand too much of your attention and even subtle sounds can prove distracting.
When it comes to the type of music to listen to, avoid listening to anything with lyrics or something you haven’t listened to before. That may cause you to pay more attention to the music than the task at hand. Instead, one study suggests trying ambient noise, which could enhance performance on creative tasks.
Breaks Are Good for You
You may feel guilty taking a break from work. But a study published in the journal Cognition found that if you want to improve focus, then a brief diversion may be just what you need. Been doing the same task for a while and have noticed that you’re beginning to lose your concentration? Then switch the focus to something else for a moment.
If you want to make the most of your break, you can try meditation. It’s a good way to increase your ability to resist distracting urges. With it you can focus your attention where it’s needed and boost your productivity when you get back to it.
Alternatively, try taking a mid-afternoon nap. It can make a difference to your mood and productivity. Aim for a 20-minute nap, ideally at around 2-3 p.m. This is when you will likely experience lower levels of alertness and is the best time to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep.
Get Help Blocking Out Distractions
If you’re yet to master the art of meditation and find your focus is getting disrupted, then there are plenty of other things you can try to block out the distractions. A good pair of noise canceling headphones will stop outside noises from getting in the way of work. While different apps and browser extensions can be used to restrict access to time-wasting websites.
If there are things at home that are getting in the way of you doing work, then try a change of scenery.
Research carried out by Regus found that 56% of workers benefited from a change in working environment with improved productivity and an increase in ability to concentrate. Head out and find a different spot to work, whether that be a café, the local library, or a shared workspace.
You may worry that the noise in a coffee shop would be distracting. Remember that the ambient noise can help improve performance on creative tasks.
Having other people around you may also help you to perform better, thanks to the audience effect. Especially if those people are also hard at work. Seeing other people working hard could influence your task performance and motivate you to work harder.
While it may be difficult to stay productive when working from home, there are plenty of things you can try to maintain your focus and get the best out of your workday. Make the most of the flexibility that it offers and find a way to make your environment and the tools at your disposal work for you.