The COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise uncertainty in the workplace as employers extend their work-from-home policies. Some workers, however, struggle to stay focused and motivated in a home environment.
In fact, a recent survey by Gensler, a design and architecture firm, found that only 12% of respondents wanted to work from home full-time. The survey also revealed that young professionals reported feeling more stressed and getting less work done when working from home.
This “new normal” is undoubtedly a safer option than reentering traditional office spaces, but keeping your focus during the day takes deliberate steps. Here are a few helpful ways to regain your focus so that you’re more productive while on the clock.
1 Establish your morning rituals
Think back on all of the morning weekday routines you did before you started working from home. This includes routines like turning off your morning alarm that was set an hour and a half before your shift starts, or spending 10 minutes choosing your wardrobe. Even your daily 30-minute commute to get to the office is a part of your routine that you no longer participate in.
Since working from home, your morning rituals may have been dismantled. For example, now you might roll out of bed 10 minutes before your shift and log in to your work-issued laptop while wearing your pajamas. In these scenarios, it’s easy for one day to bleed into the next.
If you feel unmotivated and distracted, reclaim your pre-pandemic workday routines to reset each new day. This gets your mind physically prepared to switch gears from your personal life into an engaged, professional mindset.
2 Set up a dedicated workspace
Being cooped up in your home during work hours and after also makes it unclear when your workday starts and ends. You no longer have that 30-minute commute and change of space to separate work from home.
Working on the couch, for example, might be comfortable, but it can also be distracting. This is especially true if the space is prone to interruptions, like the TV or the presence of family members.
Find a space in your home that’s inviting and inspiring to you. This place should be comfortable, but also a place you can envision yourself being productive and uninterrupted. After identifying your new workspace, keep your area clutter-free and leave your desk setup fixed in its place. This reinforces that your space—whether a table, corner, or room—is where work gets done.
3 Connect with your team daily
Let’s be honest: working from home can feel isolating. If you’re used to face-to-face connection with your coworkers and manager, this separation makes it challenging to focus on deadlines, goals, and projects.
One solution is leveraging professional messaging and video tools like Slack, Skype, or Zoom. For example, you might suggest that your team hold a Zoom call for the first five minutes of the day. During this call, each person on the team can share what they’re prioritizing for the day and whether they can help another team member with a task.
Scheduling a dedicated time to reinforce connections with your team can not only increase project collaboration but also help you stay productive throughout the week.
Although it’s uncertain how long traditional offices will remain out of bounds, these small but high-impact techniques can help you stay present while working from home.