Working at home may be a challenge due to distractions and blurring the lines between home and work. Check out these tips on how to stay focused at home!
1. Be realistic
- You are likely less focused and less productive than you were at the office, and that is okay!
- Be realistic about what a reasonable schedule looks like for you. Maybe you can only work while your child is napping or every other day while your partner watches the kids. Maybe you can only work late at night after your roommates are asleep, all of that is okay!
- Prioritize what is important and be realistic about how you will get it done.
- Monitor how long you spend on tasks to become better informed about how much time you can dedicate to work each day.
2. Accept what you can and cannot control
- Reduce frustration by acknowledging what you cannot control. Frustration only hurts productivity, so focus on what you can control.
- Focus on what you can control:
- Limit distractions
- Pause your email inbox if you can
- Turn off notifications from email and your phone
- Use lockdown browsers, disconnect from the internet or otherwise limit electronic distractions
- Manage your space
- Use headphones to block out noise
- Close off your workspace if possible
- Limit distractions
3. Stick to the plan
- Once you have assessed what you can realistically do, make a plan and stick to it.
- Make an effort to maintain a distinction between work time and non-home time.
- Even if the plan does not allow you to be as productive as you normally would be at work, that is okay. By focusing during your work time, you can increase productivity by reducing multitasking.
- A clear work time and location helps you and others know when it is time to work and when you can take a break.
4. Make it known
- Communicate your expectations (and adjust if needed).
- Share your schedule with colleagues, advisor(s), bosses, and housemates. Be clear about when you plan to work and when you will be available to others.
- Be clear with those that live with you when you are working, and when you can/cannot be interrupted by using a signal to show others when you are working and need space (e.g. headphones, a sign, a hat etc.).
- Talk to the people you live with about what you need to be able to get work done. If you need a designated space, work together to make one. If you need one night off a week to take a break, find a way to make that happen.
5. Be flexible and make adjustments
- Reflect on your productivity plan at the end of each day. What worked? What didn’t work? What adjustments can you try to make tomorrow better?
- Explore new strategies to reduce distractions and manage your time. Be creative!
- Brainstorm strategies and maintain accountability by meeting with an Academic Coach. You can join a Graduate Student Community or schedule an individual coaching appointment to get ideas for improving your plan.