How to stay focused while working at home

We help entrepreneurs get the website of their dream launched and work for them! Let's get started on yours today!

I hardly feel qualified to talk about how to stay focused when working at home, only because I struggle with it! But then it got me thinking, that’s EXACTLY what makes me qualified! No one wants to hear someone talk about how easy a task is for them, they want to know that they overcame the same struggles and succeeded, and how they can succeed too!

As a 22-year-old, I was going to school full time, had a part-time job, and was trying to run two businesses. I was also what you’d call, “a hot mess.” I started to feel depressed and anxious because I couldn’t keep track of all I was supposed to do and felt like I was sinking beneath it all. I had always excelled in school, even though it was a lot of work for me. Nothing really ever came super easy to me when it came to school and studying. But this was on a different level than ever before, I felt like I was struggling more and more each day.

I decided to take advantage of some free counseling at school, and both the counselor and nurse practitioner almost immediately diagnosed me with Type 2 ADHD. And I was pretty shocked! I wasn’t a hyper kid or your stereotypical ADHD patient, but it turns out Type 2 ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in women in their early 20’s. My anxiety and depression were stemming from me struggling to get not only my necessities done, but also adding a bit too much to my plate and not recognizing it.

Through counseling and some lifestyle changes, I feel like I learned a lot to get things done. I also chose to take some medicine while I was still in school, however, because of my heart condition, I couldn’t take the full dose, then when I got pregnant I couldn’t take them at all. So I’ve been off my medication for almost a year now and I’ve learned to manage my ADHD without medication! It’s a real struggle every day! And some days it definitely gets the better of me. But here are my tips on how to stay focused when working at home. I’m no expert, but this is what has worked for me!

Stay focused when working at home

Use apps

There’s a reason I put this first on my list! I don’t think I’d get half the things done that I do without the use of apps. They keep me focused, keep my priorities straight, and drive me to do better!

A good To-do List app

I happen to use and really like Todoist. I use the free version, and it’s my universal To-do list! What I love about it is that it helps me realize when I’m being unrealistic about what I think I can get done within a day and keeps my priorities straight. I can make projects have their own to-do lists and share those with Dave or with clients, too! Then I can schedule those tasks to be done on or by a certain day and I can also assign them to people. I love the website and the phone app. As soon as I put something on my calendar, I’ll also put it on my to-do list to stay on task.

A Timer App

When I really am struggling to stay on task, I use the Focus Keeper app! I love this because it’s usually the little things that take my focus away from work. Like if a Snapchat comes in, I want to “quickly” check social media, etc. and then “quickly” turns into a 15 min dream down the rabbit hole. Using this app is awesome to me because it times you for 25 minutes, then gives you a five-minute break! For me, that means it’s easier to put off my “quick” phone browsing until I have my five-minute break. I focus and work hard for 25 minutes, then make sure I use my break how I really want to! Sometimes it’s on Instagram, other times I play with my cats, whatever I want to do, I get to do it!

Batch work

One thing that really started to help me is doing the same thing, at the same time. This means I’m not bouncing from task to task every day and I get more done! So if I had three sessions to cull, edit, and deliver, I would cull all three at the same time, then edit all three, then deliver all three.

Another way to batch work is to schedule out a day each week/month to do certain things! For instance, I usually plan a day the first week of every month to do my Pinterest activity. A lot of my site traffic comes directly from what I pin, however, I don’t have the time/stamina to pin 20 times a day, throughout one given day and make sure that the content is perfect. So in order to keep my Pinterest updated and doing what it’s supposed to do for me (get traffic to my site), I use Tailwind once a month to schedule my Pins! They tell me when it’s best to pin, and what pins are doing well so I can repin them or upload similar things. This makes sure that I’m both active on Pinterest, and using it to its best capabilities.

Know what else I batch schedule? Instagram, using Planoly (I use the free version). Facebook, on my business page, using the scheduling tool. My blog, by scheduling posts. As far as marketing and sharing go, anything that can be batch work, is batch work. Then it’s all scheduled ahead of time so I’m never scrambling to get things together! Other tools that entrepreneurs use, Meet Edgar, Hootsuite, and Schedugram. Do some research and use what’s best for you!

Don’t Precrastinate

BEWARE! Don’t get distracted by precrastination, stay focused when working at home! I know what you’re thinking, “Amy, that’s not a word.” BUT IT IS A THING. Much like it’s ugly brother, procrastination, precrastination Have you ever had something you were supposed to be doing, and didn’t want to, so you do something that’s still productive, but maybe not on your to-do list? That’s precrastination. I am terrible at this. Sometimes if I’m struggling to get things done, I notice I spend more time planning and organizing how I’ll get things done than actually doing them!

Know when you’re most productive

Make sure to work when it’s the best time for you. I know a lot of entrepreneurs that wake up early and get things done super early in the day, I just don’t happen to be one of those people. My peak time is honestly right after lunch, from about 1-4 pm. So if I have a hard project or a big chunk of something I need to focus in on, I usually choose to do it then. Find what works best for you!

Shut out distractions

You should NOT be watching TV while you work! Unless you don’t care that the work will take you twice as long. I love TV, don’t get me wrong. But I’d rather enjoy it without my laptop sitting on me reminding me to focus on something else. I’d rather curl up after a long day and laugh! I get so much more done when I’m not trying to multi-task (because that’s not a thing) and when I keep taking breaks.

Sometimes I’ll lock my cats up in another room or turn my phone on airplane mode too, just depending on the severity of my distraction level!

Turn off phone notifications

The BEST thing I ever did to stay focused when working at home was to turn off notifications. Not only sounds but the badges, too! I used to take a break every single time an email came in because I made that my top priority. While I would like to get back to my clients as soon as possible, they can wait a few hours! And how many times was it actually a client emailing me and not just Chili’s trying to get me to come into their restaurant? You get the point.

Check your emails at certain times during the day. I like to do mine right when I start my workday, then about an hour before I end my workday. Just the two times! I also only get on social media during my scheduled breaks. Then if I can’t be distracted at all, the phone goes into airplane mode!

Get out of the house

Sometimes I do a lot better if the first thing I do in the morning or around lunchtime I get out of the house. Go to the gym, grocery shop, have lunch with a friend, go for a walk, work somewhere besides your home (library, school, friends office). Just because you “work at home” doesn’t mean you have to be at home all the time!

If you have a meeting with someone, meet them at a coffee shop instead of Skype! A couple of months ago I drove half an hour to meet someone closer to their house just so I could be out for the day instead of just chatting on the phone. I love working at home, but sometimes it’s nice to be face to face with someone.

Have a buddy

I’ve been known to go work from my mom’s fancy office from time to time! Fast internet, good company, and she’ll usually buy me lunch 😉 Since she’s not an entrepreneur, she has strict working times. So it’s nice to work next door to someone in an office space that is on the clock.

If you’re part of an entrepreneur group on Facebook, suggest you all get together and meet up to work! Someone’s house, a local coffee shop or college too! This holds you accountable and gives you a chance to meet other entrepreneurs.

Or if you have someone else you know that you can text or chat with every day to hold each other accountable for what you’re supposed to be doing, by all means, hang with them!

Know what and what not to listen to

I mentioned not watching TV above, this helps me stay focused when working at home, and I stand by that! However, some people love to have something familiar on “in the background” almost like it’s music. I get that if it works for them, and even though I’ve seen every episode of 30 Rock more times than I can count, I would still totally get distracted!

I like to listen to music that moves something for me, like a soundtrack! I’ll listen to a whole movie playlist and work right through it and the time goes by so fast! I also love audiobooks and podcasts, but usually can only handle those in my brain if I’m doing things that don’t require too much thought.

Treat it like a job

Have a start and end time, get ready for the day, take breaks, have a designated spot that you work in, don’t schedule anything during work hours. Those are all things that have helped me!

Have designated days

One thing I’ve heard a lot of people doing is having days that they do certain things. Like if you have kids, one day a week is when you schedule all of their appointments etc. I try to schedule appointments I have outside the house either right at the beginning or end of my work day to keep myself consistent.

I also do everything for my “office” on Mondays. Taxes, utilities, you name it. If it’s something that keeps my business running, but isn’t necessarily my normal “work” it gets done on Mondays!

Hire help

Maybe you can’t afford an employee right now… or maybe you just think you can’t! Let me tell you, I would MUCH rather do my work than do my laundry or dishes. Hire someone from your neighborhood to come 1-2x a week and pay them $10/hour. If they take 5 hours of housework off your plate, you can use that 5 hours how you want to! Even by making more money! Or by taking a break! Either way, that $50/week seems pretty well spent to me. I’ve hired someone to clean my house plenty of times and I always make more money by the time I’ve done my job and paid them, rather than doing the work myself.

You may need to hire employees in the future, but in my opinion, hire out the work you don’t like first!

Take breaks

Make sure to take breaks throughout your day. But also make sure to sign off and not work all day long, either! That can be so easy when you work at home! But have a strict cutoff.

Plan and avoid Analysis Paralysis

Plan, plan, plan, plan, then plan some more. Make a goal, and then work backwards to today on how you can achieve that goal in small, bit-sized pieces! I LOVE theBlueprint from Abbey Kyhl. She has these worksheets called the Review and Preview, that are worth their weight in GOLD. Seriously I do them at the beginning of each month, and on Monday mornings and I feel like I don’t have to make another decision on what I’m doing for work the rest of the week. Analysis Paralysis is so real!! You feel like you have so much to do that you don’t do anything!

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

let's beFriends