For all the freelancers out there, the topic of focus, productivity, accountability and structure when it comes to our workload may seem like old news. But for many of us, the concept of working remotely or from home has become our new normal. And one that we never expected, let alone know how to adapt to. Our environment, people, devices, chores and simply not having a frame work, all can be very distracting and very welcoming for the procrastination monkey!
So whether you’re self-employed and need the refresher, or if you have transitioned into a new working from home arrangement, these tips will help you stay focused when working from home!
Create a schedule
Start your day (or create your day the night before!) by writing down your top priorities. We think ‘Top priorities’ has a much softer approach than a ‘to do list.’ It is important to be realistic with your list, making sure to take into account breaking in between each task as well as structured breaks. While creating your task list, it is a good idea to tune into what kind of person you are and how you work best. Are you more creative in the morning? More focused and mentally alert in the afternoon? Or are you someone that prefers to go with the flow? Get to know yourself!
Create a routine that signals the beginning and end of your day
Deciding to sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you to sit in the chair is another. Having cues or signals that alerts our brain that it’s work time (and no excuses) can be far more effective that just saying to yourself, “I will start at 10” or setting an alarm. What in your routine indicates you’re about to start work? Is it getting changed out of your pj’s or casual clothes? Coming back from some physical movement? Meditation? Making a tea? And just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It is crucial for a healthy work life balance that you switch off from work you, and slip into personal you.
Have a dedicated workspace
We want to give the brain as many chances to register ‘this is work time’ as possible. So while it might be easy to sit on the couch or do work in bed, this has the potential to blur the lines between work and home or leisure. Not to mention the physical and ergonomical complications in the long run. Your dedicated workspace doesn’t have to be a whole room. It could be as simple as setting yourself up at a kitchen table or somewhere in the home that will limit distractions, and ideally somewhere you don’t spend a lot of relaxation or social time.
Multitasking is not a skill
This message is starting to slowly sink in as we unlearn what we think it means to a productivity superhero. Whilst the intention of doing the laundry while you are working, or preparing the dinner while you are on a break might seem like you are being efficient, it can interrupt focus. You wouldn’t be able to do it if you were at work, so don’t do it now. Set aside time like you would everything else, to action your chores.
Take a break
Your physical and mental health is very important when working remotely. Just like you would in the work place, it is very important to allocate smaller and larger break times throughout your day. These can be little moments such as stepping outside in the sunshine, or walking around the block right through to allocating a break for lunch.
There are many apps and methods that can help with being organised, focused and on task. However there is also some amazing ways that we can utilise our physiology to our benefit. One of those ways is through our olfactory pathways with the use of essential oils. Many studies have shown that the use of certain oils can increase energy and motivation, focus and mental clarity. Here are some of our trusted favourites:
- doTERRA Motivate® Encouraging Blend – With a combination of mint and citrus essential oils, doTERRA Motivate has an invigorating scent, ideal to help promote feelings of confidence, courage and belief, or when working on a project at work.
- Springfields Mind Power – contains Peppermint, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Lemon. This combo is great for improving memory, fighting mental fatigue, enhancing concentration and focus. While peppermint aids with an energy boost and feelings of invigoration.
- Dindi Naturals Focus Body Mist – It contains wonderfully fresh smelling rosemary, lemon and black pepper essential oils – all great for stimulating and boosting brain power!
Set boundaries within the home
Communicating some ground rules with other people in your home or who you share your space with is extremely helpful when integrating work into the home space. Just because you are home, doesn’t mean you are available. The assistance of clear and communicated boundaries can help others understand that you are working at set times and that you are not as easily accessable. They also set a healthy level of discipline for ourselves when we feel the desire to be included in conversations happening around us or to wanting to make an appearance in our housemates Tik Tok video.
Staying on track
Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. To your management team, colleagues or anyone who needs to know about your schedule, availability or workload and tasks. And this will look different for everyone and it is very personal. Overcommunicating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it allows all parties to be aware of what’s happening (professionally and personally) as well as providing direction and awareness of tasks being actioned. It can be helpful especially for those that find remote work unfamiliar and struggle with accountability. Overcommunicating helps immensely with the transition.
Lastly, punishment and over self-criticism does not increase your potential to stay in ‘work flow.’ Nor does it increase your productivity potential. So try not to reprimand yourself too harshly if things have not gone to plan or if you have drifted off course. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space. But by applying some of these helpful hints, you might find that you are more productive that ever.
Much love, NNT team xx