How to Stay Focused When Working Remotely During Lockdowns
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Social distancing: it’s depressing as hell. If you find yourself logging into work all alone from the comfort of your home office, you already know that the pain is all too real.

Keeping the day on track was a struggle when the pandemic began. Now, with newfound skills of self-discipline, we have much to share on how you can beat the urge for that fourth cup of coffee and keep your productivity on high.

Let’s talk about those skills and tips to keep our focus as we continue to work remotely.

Start Off With a Daily Routine

When you set your body up for success, you fall naturally into a comfortable, focused routine. What is the best way to begin?

Hydrate before you begin the day. After waking up, grab yourself a tall glass of filtered water. Take a moment for yourself before showering and putting yourself together. It’s easy to forget about hygiene when you’re stuck at home all day with the blinds drawn. Do not discount the power of a hot or cold shower to rouse you out of the early morning slump.

A balanced breakfast shortly thereafter will center you for the morning and keep you attentive for the day ahead.

Apps that simplify nutrition will ensure that you’re getting everything that you need without worrying about it.

Start an exercise routine at home. These free workout apps will help you start. Rigorous exercise will help encourage more restful sleep at night, and also keep you more present and engaged during your waking hours.

Make time for a planning ritual. Take account of what must be done before calling it a day. A journaling habit can give your day direction and momentum. We recommend something similar after work, as well. Jot down your met and unmet goals, and where you can improve, in a productivity journal.

Setting Up a Home Office

A designated, purposeful area used exclusively to work from home will provide some much-needed separation between work and everything else.

How to set up a home office? Make sure that all the tools necessary for your trade are in place and within reach. Keep the area clean, comfortable, and free of distraction will prevent your attention from wandering aimlessly away. Make it in some corner of your home that you love to be.

Also, decide on a “water cooler” area. It can be a nook to take a planned break, fire off a few texts, and maybe have a little snack. This place will also give you that momentary escape from the glare of the screen. You can return to your desk refreshed and in the right mode for your next task.

Working Remotely From Home: You Still Have to Do Stuff!

Being away from the office can be demotivating for some. It helps to be mindful of your productivity killers is the first step to a viable solution.

Doing It Later: Set It and Regret It

Put down the phone. Step away from Facebook. Putting your work off is a dangerous path. Take the help of apps to stave off the urge to put off to tomorrow what you can do now.

Freedom, a social media blocker, keeps your fingers out of the online honeypots when every second counts. Train your focus and you’ll find yourself reaching for comfort naturally less and less often.

Download: Freedom for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)

The Pomodoro Technique

Productivity nerds will no doubt be familiar with the Pomodoro technique, an approach to time management that is clinically proven to increase the attention span over time.

Here’s how it works: you work for twenty-five minutes, and, when the timer goes off, pull yourself away for five to perform a lower-level task, such as answering an email.

You then return to the more demanding task, repeating this process until you’ve got everything squared away. We find that we feel much less “fried” after working at length utilizing this technique, doubly so when working alone from home.

A Pomodoro app like Focus Booster is excellent for a freelancer juggling multiple clients. It actually logs your devoted hours by job, ensuring that you are divvying yourself fairly between those that you serve.

Download: Focus Booster for Windows and Mac (Free trial available)

Staying in Sync With Your Teammates

Remote working from home can feel a lot like being stuck at the bottom of a well. Keeping in touch with your boss and colleagues is now critical for remote teamwork and collaboration.

For projects with many players and moving parts, we love Basecamp as a means of managing the big picture.

For projects with many smaller deliverables to keep track of, Quip’s project manager keeps everybody on the same page, letting the group as a whole know what remains to be done.

If you’re a leader or a manager, maintaining that forward momentum will keep everybody moving toward the true goal of the exercise, whatever it may be.

Download: Basecamp for Windows and Mac | Android | iOS (Free)

Download: Quip for Windows and Mac | Android | iOS (Free trial available)

Keeping Yourself Accountable

Time is money. The clash between the comfort of home and being on your employer’s dime is certainly something to get used to.

Tracking hours with Clockify ensures that you are never overtaxing your employer’s resources while keeping your affairs organized and all in one spot.

Download: Clockify for Chrome | Firefox | Edge (Free)

Mental Health When Working from Home

The most important person is you, the professional doing the work. You alone will have to take care of your mental wellness while working solo from home.

The Two “You”s

There’s you in your button-up and slacks, ready with results for your team. Then, there’s you, over there, having a slice of cold pizza in front of the television.

When working from home, it can be all too easy to lose sight of one, creating disruptive imbalance when playtime overtakes your work or vice versa.

Turn off your notifications after hours and make it a rule to tie any loose ends before the end of the day. Disconnect from the home office even if it’s just two doors down the hall. This allows you to rest and begin again tomorrow, better than ever.

Alone in the Hole

Have you called your mother this week? This solitary life keeps us so wrapped up in our own little worlds that, sometimes, we lose sight of those important moments shared with loved ones.

Staying connected with friends is easy—a virtual coffee date on your lunch hour might just be that big push needed to get you through your next big project.

When the Going Gets Rough…

For a work junkie, blowing through your entire afternoon without even looking away from the computer is not a difficult mistake to make. During crunch time, duty calls.

But if you’re keeping up with what you need to do, breaking away periodically will keep your disposition positive and prevent screen fatigue and depression.

Working From Home? We’re There With You

With more top companies making a permanent conversion to distance working, the time to perfect the art of working remotely is now. The more capable that you are with the home-team advantage, the more unstoppable you will be should the need to venture out into the world as a professional presents itself once again.



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Emma Garofalo
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