22 ways of increasing focus and concentration while working from home

Even before the pandemic, the concept of working from home has been the talk of many organisations. Some companies have actually been offering WFH options for their employees even before COVID-19 restrictions hit the world.

During the pandemic, employees proved that they can actually work from anywhere in the globe as long as they deliver the outputs–though this is partly true because there are jobs that still require on-site work [1]. While the idea of working in the comfort of your home is great, the challenge is how to actually make WFH work for you. 

Your home is your resting place. With the work-from-home setup, how can you strive to be as efficient as you are at the office? There are too many distractions, and your home environment may not be suitable for work. Hence, here are 22 ways to increase your focus and concentration when working from home. 

1. Grab the morning magic

Start your day right. Break down your major and minor tasks and align them to your time. You can also designate the difficult tasks to the time when you are working at the peak level, maybe in the morning and after lunch. Choose the time that you find yourself more alert and productive in the morning [2]. Grab the morning magic with a cup of coffee or an energy booster to give you that kick!

Featured product offer
Waka Coffee Dark Roast Ethiopian Instant Coffee
  • Dark roast blend instant coffee made from 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced from Ethiopia.
  • Additives-free real coffee beans freeze-dried to preserve aroma and flavor.
  • Boasts a rich and robust flavor with subtle hints of caramel. No sugar or sweeteners added.

2. Organise and set up a workstation

Not every one of us has a functional workstation. To have a proper workstation at home, you must have all the gadgets and needed equipment at one station. Your desk is basically a reflection of your habits and personality. Organising your workstation can also help you get off distractions and make you comfortable at your own home. Make it aesthetically pleasing to add more boost! 

3. Have an hourly-work plan

Time management and plan management work together. Having a plan for each hour of your work hours can help you create a fine line between work and personal time. Focus on achieving your hourly plans and schedule them accordingly. By doing this, you are also creating a structure for your day by which you know exactly what, when and where to do it. Moreover, having an hourly plan is a great strategy for prioritisation; you will know the easiest and most challenging tasks, and so, eventually, you allot more time for the latter. 

4. Go with the flow

For some of us, going with the flow can be a great method for delivering outputs. We all have habits and styles of working; thus, going with the flow works for some. In fact, a research study explains that getting in ‘flow’ helps in strengthening your concentration and maximising your work performance. This is more appropriate for people who don’t do well under pressure because they may feel stressed when they have a well-structured plan, so they can’t give their A-game. 

5. Take short breaks 

Don’t overdo it. You have to take some breaks after 60 minutes of continuous work. It is also advisable to stay away from your screen when having a short break or having a short walk to help your body circulate blood. Non-stop working in front of your computer can lead to lethargy, fatigue and headaches. 

6. Stop procrastinating

Sometimes, we procrastinate in the hope of feeling energised the next day when we want to do a particular work task. Most especially that your bed looks like it shines every time you are in a meeting. However, we all know that skipping a day or two of working on a task will not magically give you a boost. It only makes things worse because by then, you have a shorter time period to fulfil the work. 

By procrastinating, you may feel sleep deprived, stressed and tired. You also tend to do overtime and work beyond your working hours at home instead of playing with your dog. For you to fight procrastination, you can start with smaller steps. If you feel like you have to drag yourself to do the work, condition yourself to start with simple tasks until you create momentum. 

7. One task at a time

Multitasking is a skill that not every one of us possesses. Some of us prefer working slowly but surely with one task from another. In fact, working on multiple tasks at a time can lead to more mistakes or no results at all most of the time. Switching from one task to another can reduce the likelihood of you completing the tasks [3]. 

8. Don’t use your phone

Are you guilty of using your phone during work hours? Especially since when you’re working from home, there are no judging eyes from your colleagues that basically tell you to do your work. Unlike at the office, your boss can observe your work ethic, but at home, you can do whatever you want without them knowing. 

Hence, the likelihood of using your phone can be longer than when you are at the office. In a survey, an office employee typically spends 56 minutes daily using his smartphone [4]. It is better to keep your phone away from you when you do your work to stop the urge to use it and to lessen distractions. For emergency purposes, you can just check it during your breaks.

9. Organise your email inbox 

Emails are the ultimate way to communicate professionally, especially when working remotely. Consequently, organising your email inbox can lessen your time in finding an email about a specific discussion or meeting. You can also have the distinction between personal and work emails by creating folders with different categories based on which ones generally email you the most. 

10. Find your productivity music

Listening to some productivity-boosting songs can actually help when working from home, especially since you don’t have to mingle with coworkers. It can also lessen your house distractions, making you more focused at work. Plus, music can actually enhance your overall mood. 

11. Install apps for work management 

Getting yourself focused and concentrated at work may need help from some productivity apps. You can use some apps to track your work tasks as they send reminders about your goals and deadlines. You can install it on your work laptop, so you don’t have to use your phone with you. 

12. Know your triggers

Not everybody can be distracted by the things you can easily be distracted about, so you need to know your triggers. You must be self-aware of the factors that prevent you from fulfilling your tasks while working from home. Is it your cat? Or a baby crying? Do the dirty dishes in the sink distract you? 

In short, you have to condition your mind that during work hours, you only need to do work tasks unless there is an emergency. Set boundaries mentally, physically and emotionally. 

13. Communicate your boundaries. 

Communication is always the key! Talk to your family members or housemates to not distract you during work. You can’t casually chit chat with them for an hour or watch a movie with them during your work hours. You can also give them your structured day plan to let them know when you are free. 

14. Don’t browse and read random things 

Although we have established keeping away your phone, you still use a work laptop, and any digital distraction is possible on a functional gadget with the internet. Stop your urge to browse through websites and read random things on the internet. Focus on your goal and reward yourself with free time browsing once you finish some tasks, perhaps during lunch break. 

15. Block social media sites on your work laptop 

For some work laptops, social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, are already banned. However, if your company has no strict restrictions and you have a habit of checking your social media accounts every minute, it is better to block them on your work laptop yourself. Social media sites kill your productivity. 

16. Structure your day 

Structuring your day can be too much for some, but it is worth the try. People who are struggling with time management and prioritisation with too many distractions at home can greatly benefit from starting their day with a fixed schedule. They can block some time and prevent unnecessary online meetings for work. Also, you can insert some ‘me’ time, family time and playtime with this strategy.

17. Make a ‘to-do’ list 

If structuring your day is not for you, you can simply create a ‘to-do list’ with no specific time for each task. Just keep in mind that you have to complete these tasks within a specific period. A ‘to-do’ list can keep you on track while you work from the comfort of your home [5].

18. Identify the urgency of tasks 

Urgent tasks should be prioritised; not just at work but your household chores too. You have to determine which one to do first. Do you have to clean the kitchen first, then shower and start working? Or can you cook first and then write an email to your boss? 

Some companies allow their employees to have flexible time working from home. This means that they can do whatever they want as long as they deliver their outputs before or on the deadline given. 

19. Put foods and drinks near you

Tumblers are on trend and with good reason! First, they save you from the possibility of spilling water on your work laptop, which could be a very real risk when using a stem glass. Secondly, it is conveniently there whenever you need water – so important to stay hydrated when working, and it cuts down on time going to and from the refrigerator. Snacks also help in keeping you awake! Put your foods and drinks near you to prevent house distractions outside your room whenever you are feeling peckish.

Featured product offer
Vega Nut Butter Shake – Plant-Based Protein Powder
  • Contains 20 g of plant-based proteins--peanuts and pea ingredients.
  • Has 85% less fat and 60% less calories than adding two 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to a regular shake.
  • No blender needed. Shake and sip for a creamy smoothie on-the-go.

20. Set deadlines

A goal without a deadline is just a hopeless dream. To achieve something, you have to actually set a timeline to complete it. Without a deadline, you are most likely to ignore the task and put it last on your list. Hence, you must always set a deadline for your tasks, especially since you are always one step closer to sleeping when working from home. 

21. Use headphones 

Using headphones or headsets can help in creating a world without no distractions. Headphones are designed for you to indulge in music without hearing anything. So, investing in quality headphones is a must-have!

22. Stop working so many hours

Studies have shown that working from home makes you work more than when you work at the office [6]. Now that you can do office duties at home, it can mess up your work-life balance. You must set the boundary before it affects your personal relationships and health. 

The bottom line:

The truth behind increasing your focus and concentration while working from home is simply self-regulation. You must clearly categorise what work is and what is not. Although you can do work stuff at home, that does not mean you have to live with it all day. 

Resources: 

[1] https://siepr.stanford.edu/publications/policy-brief/how-working-home-works-out 
[2] https://hr.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/222/2020/03/CVD010-How-to-find-focus-while-you-work-from-home-V1.pdf 
[3] https://www.apa.org/topics/research/multitasking 
[4] https://disturbmenot.co/cell-phone-addiction-statistics/ 
[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2021/02/25/how-to-stay-focused-while-working-from-home/?sh=7ef0cd321f71 
[6] https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/you-re-right-you-are-working-longer-and-attending-more-meetings 

Photograph: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.