If you’re new to working from home, it can be quite daunting to keep yourself motivated and focused – here are a few tips that we’ve picked up!
The pomodoro technique
For the uninitiated, the pomodoro technique is a method of time management that originated from the late 1980s. Named after the italian word for tomato, the technique originally employed the use of a novelty, tomato-shaped timer – hence the name! Here’s how it works:
1. Choose a task you want to get done
2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
3. Work on the task until the time rings
4. Take a short break
This can be altered to suit your workflow, but by creating a clear work/break cycle, you can eliminate distractions and prevent burnout. Give it a try if you’re struggling to concentrate! The website tomato-timer.com can even handle this for you, from within your browser.
If you have a piece of work to get started, but keep finding yourself procrastinating (again!), try watching a video or listening to a podcast that is related to the same subject. This can help to get your brain focused on the topic at hand – by not going from 0 to 100, you’re lowering the risk of being distracted, and can ease yourself into the work.
Maintain your routine
It can be tempting to skip your morning shower and slip straight into your pyjamas for the day, but the novelty of this can soon wear off, and you may find yourself struggling to concentrate. Instead, try to keep up the habit of showering and getting dressed each day (and shaving!). You should find the routine helps your mind switch into ‘work mode’.
Work away from your relaxation space
Similarly, it can be hard to resist the urge to lounge on the sofa with your laptop. However, we subconsciously associate these spaces with relaxation, which can negatively affect your productivity. Plus, there’s the risk of getting so comfy that you drift off to sleep! To avoid this, try to set up a working spot away from the place you relax. A desk is ideal, but you can always use the kitchen table!
Take your breaks
Just as it can be easy to get too relaxed, it’s also possible to let work completely take over your day, which can take its toll on your concentration and productivity. Be sure to schedule your breaks into your calendar, and if you still find yourself working through your lunch, apps such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows can lock you out of your computer for 60 minutes. Do whatever it takes to give your mind a rest!
Working remotely can lead to feelings of disconnect and isolation, which can be difficult for all personalities – even introverts. To combat this, aim to engage with your colleagues on a social level at least once a day. This could be via a slack channel or whatsapp group, where you can chat about common interests, or just share funny stories or memes. It also helps to set up video calls for meetings or projects – chatting to colleagues face-to-face is a nice reminder that you’re part of a team.
Focus with music
If you find there are too many distractions at home, putting on a pair of headphones can focus your mind and improve your concentration levels. Various studies have found that music can also help with stress, so try to put together a playlist of your favourite tunes! If you find lyrics too distracting, you may find it helpful to listen to instrumental music instead. If you’re struggling to find instrumental tracks in your music library, try searching for the soundtracks to your favourite films and video games!
End your day with a routine
Just as it’s important to start your working day with a routine, it’s also helpful to signal the end of your day with a daily habit. This could be a 30 minute yoga session, an evening walk with your favourite podcast, or even something simple like a brew and a chat with friends. Whatever helps you to unwind and clear your mind.