With the current circuit breaker measures, working from home is now the norm. However, remote work could be challenging with all the distractions.
We may self-sabotage productivity without even knowing it. We do this by “context switching” or jumping between various, unrelated tasks. Simply put, we get distracted.
How Do We Get Distracted?
A study shows that the human “executive control” processes have two distinct stages.
- Goal shifting Stage– “I want to do this now instead of that”
- Rule activation Stage– “I’m turning off the rules for that and turning on the rules for this”.
Both of these stages help people to automatically switch between tasks. That’s helpful. Problems arise when switching costs conflict with environmental demands for productivity and safety.
The Cost of Distraction
You will lose as much as 40% of your productive time by being distracted. It adds to your cognitive load, hence, temporarily lowering your IQ by up to 15 points and deterring your ability to get anything done.
It’s no wonder that people keep saying work smart. Distractions literally make us dumber for a while. So get up to speed by focusing!
6 Ways to Stay Focused While Working from Home:
1. Eat the Biggest “Frog” First
From the book “Eat that Frog”, it’s a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.
Now, if you have “frogs” of different sizes, you need to eat the biggest frog first so you will have enough time to focus your energy and attention on that one. The remaining smaller “frogs” will be easier.
It goes without saying that you need to group similar tasks and projects together so you avoid switching from one thinking hat to another. This way, you don’t just get more done faster, but you’ll get the right things done.
2. Guard Your Time
If you allow someone to use your time ineffectively, it’s a wasted resource you can’t recover. If you know that you have a deadline in the next hour and you need every millisecond you can get, then isolate yourself to finish it.
Or if you’re beside someone who’s bursting with ideas and easily gets excited that he wants to tell the world about it, then keep a distance.
Another tip is to schedule all of your meetings on the same day or days of the week. This would allow you to have uninterrupted days during the week to be amazingly productive. Guard your time fiercely, because no one’s going to do it for you.
3. Rule of Three
The “Rule of Three” is not only for making your home look spacious, but it’s also applicable to harnessing personal focus.
Since there’s definitely not enough time in a day to do everything – and there never will be – list the three most important outcomes you can achieve at the beginning of each workday. Select one and keep working until you finish then move onto the next one until you complete all three.
Isn’t it simple? Identify three outcomes you want for the day, for the week, for the month and for the year.
4. Declutter Attention Pollutants
Decluttering is not only for physical pollutants and making your home spark joy. It also helps you improve your focus. Like the Japanese word „Å®„Åç„ÇÅ„Åè (tokimeku), it should cause your heart to feel excited.
If anything robs your excitement to work and focus, keep it out of sight. Be it your desktop notifications, cell phone alerts, vibrating smartwatches to a rubbish bin that disturbs you because of the pungent smell, ditch it!
Creating anything of value is hard work. Anything that steals your attention must be out of your way.
5. Get Enough Sleep
This may seem like a no brainer, yet lack of sleep can hinder you from thinking clearly and keeping your emotions at an even keel. It’s proven that excessive sleepiness can hurt your work performance and family relationships as it impairs judgment.
Sleep improves learning, memory, and insight. You might wonder what is considered as enough number of hours of sleep. If you get less than six hours of sleep a night for a week, you’ll rack up a full night’s sleep debt – too much to make up for with a few hours extra sleep on the weekend.
Convinced? Have a good six hours of energy banking tonight!
6. Productive Procrastination
This may sound counterintuitive, but yes, there’s such a thing as procrastinating productively. It’s called the “Pomodoro Technique” in which you “reward” yourself with 5-minute breaks at the end of every 25-minute chunk of uninterrupted deep thinking.
No cheating, if during the 25-minutes work you were distracted, start again. And when the time’s up, stop working completely. Take a breather!
This productive procrastination also means that if you finished earlier, review your work, reflect, take an extra-long break or move on to the next task. This pre-planned delay leads to greater overall productivity.