Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How to stay focused working from home

I have been pondering what to write in my most recent blog for a few weeks now when an 'online networking colleague' I know posted in our networking group with blog post suggestions. He said you should answer questions you're asked a lot in your blog as it's information people want to know.This does sound fairly obvious on the face of it so it got me thinking...'What question, relating to what I do, am I asked regularly?'

I'm asked daily/weekly 'What exactly is a Virtual Assistant anyway' but I have blogged about that in the past here but another question i'm always asked is 'How do you stay focused working from home?'
Inevitably, when chatting to people about what I do, people say 'ooh I couldn't work from home, i'd be too distracted' and this can be true for many home workers which is why it is important to set yourself some rules and boundaries to follow. 

With that in mind, here are my top tips for staying focused when working from home!

1/ Be Realistic - I will be totally honest and say this is the first thing you need to ask yourself. Is home working for you? Are you easily distracted? Are you likely to get pulled into jobs in the house or something you want to see on the telly one day? Do you need company? If you answer YES to any of those then you need to seriously think about whether working from home is the right thing for you because the one thing you need is 100% focus every single day.

2/ Set your working hours - If you went into an office every day you would work the hours set by the business. Home working is exactly the same. Now, i'm not saying you can't work longer hours, or even shorter hours if you're organised and the work gets done, what I am saying is assign yourself your work hours and during those times make sure you are working. I don't mean putting a wash on, or cooking the tea or anything which is non-work related, I mean sitting down at your desk and doing your work.

3/ Find your space - I know home workers who are more than happy in the living room with their laptop, you know, on their lap. I know some who work on their bed. Most, though, work from a desk in a dedicated office. Whatever works for you but you must set your work space and your personal space. Personally I have an office which is where I go when it is time to switch off from being at home and switch on to being at work, It's a very short commute but it is still my work space and that is super important.

4/ Don't stay at home! - Sounds daft but getting out of the house during your working week is also really important. Go to meetings, get out to networking groups, meet like minded, fellow home workers for coffee and to bounce ideas around. Working from home can be lonely and it's important you interact with humans as well!

5/ Enjoy your space - Try and work from an area which inspires you. What that looks like will vary but take the time to make your work space somewhere you want to go to. You must be comfortable and happy in your space to allow you to be inspired.

6/ Take a break - If you were in an office you would, most likely, take a lunch break, Even if it is just ten minutes to grab a coffee or pop to a shop you would get away from your desk. There is a temptation when home working to stay at your desk all day. I recommend not. Take a proper lunch. Go for a walk, go in the garden, do some jobs, go in another room and have lunch. Just take some time out (make sure you set a limit so you don;t get carried away!) and get away from your desk so you are refreshed ready for more work/world domination

7/ Dress for you the job you want - When I first started working from home the novelty to be able to work in my onesie was overwhelming but I found it genuinely affected my concentration and ability to focus. Onesies mean sofa, and TV and downtime. They mean comfort. They don't mean focus and smash out some top quality work for your clients. You wouldn't go to a meeting in a onesie so make sure you dress for success and dress as you would if you were going into an office every day. You'll be surprised the difference it makes.

8/ Communicate with others - Make sure you don't spend your life just at a keyboard. Pick up the phone, use Skype/Facetime and talk to people. It makes your work day more varied and allows you to focus on other people which will help your general focus levels.

9/ Have a plan - Never start your day/week without a plan. Use a calendar and a list (I like paper but there are loads of project management apps you can use) and have your day and week mapped out. If you don't know how your week is going to pan out you cannot begin to have focus.

10/ Find your people - Knowing and talking to others in the same boat is really key for focus and support. The guy I mentioned who suggested ways to come up with blog ideas is another business owner who is a member of an online forum set up by a company I admire hugely Spaghetti Agency Jo and Todd set up a group online to let people ask questions and bounce ideas around, I find this support invaluable. In an office you can just 'run ideas past people' or have a quick brainstorm. Home working is often just you so finding like minded people you can chat to is really helpful for your focus and your overall sanity!

Being focused when you work from home can be tough but if you are determined, organised and hard working it can also be a piece of cake. Personally I get way more done at home without the distractions of an office and so can generally get more work into my day but everyone is different. 

Follow the tips above and you'll find home working a breeze but, if it's an area you struggle with, we might be able to help. 

For more about how a Virtual Assistant could help you and your business check out our Services

Visit www.theintelligentvacompany.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @intelligentvacoThanks for reading!