How to regain focusUpdated July 13, 2018

You have to be disciplined to be productive when working from your home, and usually I am.

I’m at my desk at 9 a.m. After a quick check for e-mail, I keep the sound off to avoid hearing the siren song that more has arrived. A to-do list has urgent tasks highlighted. I don’t even listen to music so I can concentrate.

But every once in a while, I hit a spell where I just cannot focus. I get distracted by e-mail and spend too much time following alluring links posted on social media.

Often, this coincides with high season for vacations and my thin excuse is being unable to reach people I have to talk to. But really; I have to do the equivalent of grabbing myself by the scruff of the neck to get my own attention.

If you get caught by the same lack of focus, whether in a home office or not, here are some ideas to help:

  1. Write a list of everything you must accomplish. Rewrite it each night to be ready for the next day.
  2. Don’t even open email, Twitter, Facebook etc. until you’ve crossed something off your “to do” list.
  3. Turn off the sound so you don’t hear incoming messages.
  4. If you leave your mail program open, block the view of your inbox so you can’t see incoming messages either.
  5. Only allow yourself certain times to check e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. and STICK TO THEM.
  6. Get a timer and be disciplined about how much time you spend checking all those online funhouses.
  7. In extreme cases, take your laptop somewhere where you don’t have access to the internet.
  8. Give yourself a reward for the tiniest of achievements, such as staying focused for a set amount of time, and for bigger successes like finishing an article or submitting a project.
  9. Know that this, too, shall pass.

Another time this happened, I followed it up by completing two last-minute projects (quick turnaround of about a day from interview to finished article, something I like to call “pulling a rabbit out of a hat”), so there’s hope. But losing focus happens slowly and secretly, so I know paying attention is important.

Still, I should add, cut yourself some slack. As long as you are meeting your commitments, it’s OK to work at a slower pace once in a while!

Do you have any other suggestions for staying focus? Do share in the comments.

Image by SplitShire on Pixabay.