How To Stay Away From The Biscuit Tin And Stay Focused When Working From Home
Published 12 months ago by Medet Ali
Working from home? A lot of us are these days, and it can be a bit of a shock to the system.
Working from home does have its upsides, like helping you save money on your commute and not having to wear work clothes, but it can also offer challenges.
The biscuit tin of the title is really a metaphor for the distractions of modern life or more accurately home life.
OK, its an actual biscuit tin as well. A large Mcvities tin (see picture) to be precise, but let's go with the metaphor.
Distractions are numerous when you are working from home.
The buzz of your team is replaced with silence, shrieks of your children or the cat wandering into your study with the morning update.
Social media is more interesting.
The urge to procrastinate is stronger.
Coffee breaks become more frequent.
So how do you stay focused and productive when you're in the same place as your pets, children, biscuit tin, and bed?
Working from home is a discipline and one that needs a little more effort and planning on your part.
Fortunately, there are things you can do. They all involve discipline and planning, but that's no different from your normal day to day in the office.
Create a Workspace
Working from the sofa sounds excellent, and it can be comfy for a while. However, it doesn't take long to realise that maybe you're a bit too comfortable. If you're not getting much done, it could be because you need somewhere different to work.
Setting up a dedicated workspace helps both your mind and body get into work mode. You'll be sitting up properly, and you'll be focusing on working - not tempted to switch on the TV. If you don't have a desk at home, use your dining table or any other flat surface that's the right height.
Get Out of Your Dressing Gown.
One of the perks of working from home is getting to wear what you want. This means you can be as comfortable as you want, and even log into video chats with no trousers on if you're willing to risk it. But dressing down too much can have consequences.
Your dressing gown might be comfortable, but they're often not really conducive to work. When you feel a bit too at home, it can be hard to focus. You're not in the right mindset to get your work completed because you feel like you're having a lazy day at home.
So get out of your DG in the morning, and get dressed!
Get a Good Start to Your Day
It's not just getting dressed in proper clothes that can save you when you're working at home. You might not be commuting to work, but it's still important to have a morning routine.
Some things you might do include:
- Make and eat breakfast.
- Go for a walk, run or bike ride to replace your commute.
- Exercise/workout at home.
- Get a household task done - but don't aim to clean the whole house.
- Put Yourself on a Schedule
Everyone needs schedules - babies, toddlers, teenagers, and you too. When you're at home, you need a schedule not just for your work but for the rest of your life too.
A schedule helps you outline what you will be doing all day.
It helps you to hold yourself accountable and know what you're doing with your time. Schedule your days and your weeks too, so you know what you're doing and when.
Plan Your Lunches - avoid the biscuit tin
One of the most difficult things about working from home is being surrounded by food. The kitchen is right there, and it's so easy to reach for a snack. It's also a lot easier to have whatever you want for lunch.
On top of that, you're also stuck inside for most of the day right now. You can go out for exercise, but only once each day. If you want to avoid piling on the pounds, you need to avoid constantly grazing.
As with everything else, you need a plan. Plan your lunches, and think about meal-prepping them too - you have the time. Plan your snacks as well, and when you're going to eat them, so you don't spend all day munching.
Spurn Social Media
Social media is very handy when you're isolated and lonely. It helps you stay in touch with people, and it's even necessary for work sometimes too. But it can also be hugely distracting.
If you want to be productive, say no to social media. Stop checking Facebook and strolling through Twitter, or posting photos of your cats on Instagram. If you don't trust yourself, use a website blocker - and put your phone away.
Put Up a 'Do Not Disturb' Sign
When you're working from home, it can make other people think you're suddenly available for them at any time. Your kids want your attention, your dog wants to play, and your neighbours want you to collect their packages for them. Unfortunately, you still have to get your work done.
Setting boundaries is a must if you want to focus. Let friends and family know that you're unavailable during normal working hours. Put a sign up to let everyone know you're on a conference call.
You need to remove the distractions involved with working from home, which includes telling other people to go away and leave you alone.
Don't Work All Day
Leaving work for home at the end of the day is a feeling like no other. But what do you do when your home has become your work?
It can be tough to stop working at the end of the day. However, it's not healthy to keep working at all hours of the day. Healthy boundaries and a healthy schedule include having a time when you stop working.
Some people are already pretty good at social distancing. However, if you're someone who needs human contact, you can quickly start feeling lonely. It won't be long before you're talking to yourself.
Making human connections is vital, so be sure to stay in touch with your colleagues, as well as friends and family. Even if you can't see them in person right now, you can still get in touch for a chat over Zoom or Facetime.
It's a challenge to adjust to new work at home routine. Finding your focus can take time, but you can discover your flow after a while.