How to Stay Focused While Working Remotely: 5 Tips for Avoiding Distractions and Maximizing Productivity

An employee stays focused while working from home by finding a good place to work.

For roughly 18% of the United States labor force, working from home has become the new norm. Working remotely offers employees flexibility and a way to be close to their loved ones throughout their day. Yet, working from home can also offer new challenges not present in the traditional office setting.

You may find it hard to maintain your work-life balance. It can also be challenging to stay focused, as you may have to share spaces with family members, work in spaces you normally use for relaxation, and be constantly surrounded by home projects and chores needing to be done. With so many distractions, how can you stay productive?

Here are five ways to stay focused while working from home.

1. Eliminate distractions.

When working from home, it can be easy to be sidetracked by other responsibilities or things going on around you. Silence unrelated notifications and avoid turning on the TV or scrolling social media. If you find yourself constantly reminded of home projects that need to be done, make a list of tasks to do after work or when you need a short break.

If removing distractions isn’t an option, try listening to music or moving to a quieter space. Go outside or go work at a local coffee shop. Working from home is about maintaining focus, so take the steps you need to to remove distractions and find the environment that works best for you.

2. Set up a designated space.

It’s important that you distinguish between your work and home life. While the two may often blend together, you can help create a boundary by having a designated workspace.

Even if you don’t have a home office, try regularly working from your kitchen table, living room couch or a quiet corner in a guest bedroom. If you have a hard time staying focused in the main areas of the house, try getting a small desk for your bedroom or converting a spare room into a temporary office. Having set workspaces will help you focus and create a harder line between your home and work life.

3. Have a routine.

When working from home, it can be hard to make the mental switch between work and personal time. One way to help your brain make this transition is to establish routines for yourself.

Get ready for the day much like you would if you were going to the office by showering, getting dressed and moving to your set workspace. Try to start at the same time each day and take lunches and breaks like you would in the office. Then, when you’re done for the day, switch off your computer and even change clothes if you have to. Having set routines will help you distinguish between when you’re “clocked in” and when you’re “clocked out,” and help you create healthy work-life boundaries. 

4. Set boundaries.

While working from home gives you more flexibility, it can also lead to you working longer days or having trouble clocking out from your job. You may feel like you’re never really “off” and find yourself working late into the evening, checking in over the weekend or spending more time working than with your family.

Be sure to make boundaries for yourself, both for your work and personal time. Have set availability each day and focus completely on your job during those times. Then, once your work day has ended, shut off your computer and silence notifications. Your coworkers can always reach you if they need to, but setting boundaries will help you make the most of your work time and fully enjoy your time with your family.

5. Make to-do lists.

It can be harder to keep up with everything that needs to be done without face-to-face conversations and regular in-person meetings. Having to keep track of your responsibilities across multiple emails, texts, or apps can cause you to miss tasks or feel overwhelmed by your workload. 

To stay focused while working from home, get into the habit of creating to-do lists and schedules of what you need to accomplish throughout the week. By physically seeing the tasks you have to do in one place, you can keep track of your responsibilities and make sure you’re not falling behind. Then, at the end of the day or week, you’ll be able to look back at what you accomplished, make adjustments and feel encouraged going forward.

Working remotely provides opportunities for you to create a better work-life balance, practice discipline and have greater flexibility with your time. Take advantage of each day at home and find time to spend time with your loved ones by going on walks, having lunch together or just working alongside one another. Remember to be present and make the most of your time, whether that’s on or off the clock.