Editorial note: All Guest Post authors share their views and experiences, and do not represent Week of Saturdays.
An increased number of people now find themselves working alone — from their kitchens, bedrooms, and couches. It can be comforting working from a place where you’re only steps away from the food pantry or your pet, but it can also be hard to stay motivated. After all, you’re not in an office setting with your managers or coworkers around to keep you on task.
The list of potential distractions when working from home is seemingly endless: your children and family wanting attention, the television in the background while you work, or even the desire to check off household chores from your to-do list.
Fundera created a roadmap with tips to keep you focused when you’re working solo. First up, you should carve out a workplace that is not your bed or your couch. (If you work from your bed or your couch, you will have a tough time logging off at the end of the day and separating work and play.) There’s a reason why virtually every office environment encourages you to work at a desk and in a chair.
In that same vein, you should get dressed when you’re working alone from home. Why is this? It has to do with the idea of “enclothed cognition.” That term originated when a study found that doctors who wore lab coats made fewer mistakes than doctors who didn’t wear them.
In the study, the researchers concluded that, “Although the saying goes that clothes do not make the man, our results suggest they do hold a strange power over their wearers.”
The same goes for you. You’ll likely perform better at work when you make an effort to get dressed.
It’s possible that your loved ones will also be working from home. That means that you should set boundaries. For example, maybe you ask your partner and your kids not to disturb you between noon and 3 p.m. Setting these boundaries allows you to power through your work without distractions and sets the expectations that other tasks will have to wait until after work hours.
You’ll also want to take plenty of breaks in order to stay focused throughout your work day. This can include both long and short breaks. Breaks can be extremely beneficial and necessary for your mental wellbeing.
If you’re working for long periods of time inside, you’ll want to spend some time outside occasionally. For example, you might want to take a walk outside every 4 hours. Perhaps you can even use this time to walk the dog or complete some micro tasks in your garden. One study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that people who went on 30-minute walks during their lunch breaks three times a week felt less tense, more relaxed, and more enthusiastic.
Research has also shown that walking around—either indoors or outdoors—can boost your creativity significantly. There’s a reason why people often tell you to get up and move around when you’re stuck on a problem or can’t figure something out!
In addition to taking longer walking breaks, you’ll want to take several short breaks throughout the day. One unique way to do this is to practice 50 minute focus rounds.
That means that you set a timer for 50 minutes. In those 50 minutes, you should do as much work as possible on one task. You might be tempted to switch to another task, check your email, or get up and walk around, but you should resist that temptation. After the 50-minute timer goes off, then you can check your notifications and take a bit of a break for 10 minutes. You can repeat this process of working for 50 minutes and taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day.
Finally, when the time comes to stop working for the day, you should cut off your work abruptly. It may be tempting to continue working for a little bit (especially since you’re already saving time by not having to commute to and from work). However, you should resist the temptation.
Working just a little bit longer can gradually turn into working many more hours over the long term, and you could find yourself sacrificing your work-life balance. Most importantly, if you’ve finished working and you come up with a new idea, try not to work on it until the next day. Write down your idea in as much detail as possible and come back to it the next day.
Feature image: Source.