Staying Focused and Productive When You Work at Home

I know that for me one of the biggest challenges I face while trying to work at home is staying focused. It's so easy to get distracted by a zillion different things both online and offline.

If you're online, you'll find yourself wanting to check your Facebook and email constantly. Housework and chaos coming from the kids are two of my biggest offline distractions.

There is no “right” way to handle these problems. No matter what you do, you're always going to face some sort of distraction.

However, there are lots of things that may help keep the distractions to a minimum and increase your focus so you'll be much more productive.

Block Yourself From Facebook

You will be more productive working from home if you block yourself from Facebook. Well, unless of course you're a social media manager or moderator and your job is to be on Facebook.

There is a program you can download called the Facebook Limiter that is completely free and will block you from Facebook.

It's very customizable. You can set it up to block you for just a certain period of time or even do a “duration lock” where you tell it to only let you have access to Facebook for a certain number of hours per day.

Are you using Google Chrome as your browser? If so, you can install the Stay Focusd extension which helps you become more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on Facebook and other websites that are big time wasters. I think Pinterest would be another good one to add to it!

Limit How Often You Check Your Email

Unless you are eagerly expecting an email that needs a fast reply, you don't really have to keep your email open while you try to work.

If you leave it open, you'll notice every time a new message comes through and you'll be tempted to stop what you're doing and see what it says.

I am notorious for this! And guess what? Most of the time it's not even anything that needs my immediate attention.

I realize I need to take my own advice here … but try to set aside two specific times per day when you check your email. Say for example first thing in the morning when you wake up and get online and maybe again after dinner.

Be sure to clean out your inbox during these times as well so your list of messages doesn't get too overwhelming.

I would also suggest taking a few minutes once a week to unsubscribe from promotional messages that you know you don't want junking up your mailbox anymore.

I know that after I've spent a few minutes doing this, I feel so unburdened! There's nothing like a clean, streamlined inbox to make you feel like you have yourself together. šŸ™‚

Set Aside a Block of Time For Housework

One problem that I've always faced while working from home is feeling guilty that I'm not doing housework instead of earning money.

It's very hard for me to focus on my work when the sink is full of dishes, the laundry is overflowing, and toys are scattered all across the living room floor.

If that's what my house looks like, that little voice in the back of my mind keeps nagging at me to get up and clean.

One thing I've been doing that seems to help is set aside one block of time for housework before I start working. I know that I can only spare about one hour to clean before I need to start the work day, so I set the timer on my oven for 60 minutes.

I clean house during that 60 minutes and then stop when the buzzer goes off. You would honestly not believe how much you can get done in your house in an hour if you clean non stop!

I find that my focus on work is much better if the environment around me is fairly tidy. If you have kids at home with you, get them in on the cleaning action too during the 60 minutes. šŸ™‚

Controlling Chaos at Home

Many of us work at home so we can be with our kids. However, there is no denying that our kids can make it hard to focus on work. You may or may not find this to be the case depending on the ages of your kids and your current living situation, but for me it's always been a challenge.

If your kids are old enough, try to make them understand that they need to keep noise to a minimum when you're in “work mode.”

You could also try to arrange your schedule around times when another adult will be home if your job will allow for that.

If possible, try to work in a different room of your house where you can close the door while the other adult cares for the children. Working before your kids wake up or after they're asleep is another option. I've done both of those things before.

I know that it's very hard not to feel guilty when we work at home and have to distance ourselves from our children. After all, for many of us they are the reason we are trying to work at home … so we can be with them.

But work is work and money can't be made if time isn't taken to actually do the work, just like a job outside the home.

If you start feeling guilty, remind yourself that even though you have to concentrate on your work, you are at least still there with your kids and you have immediate access to them if anything super important comes up while you're working. This is really something to be thankful for!

If you have a job where you can set your own schedule, make sure you stick firmly to whatever hours you set for yourself.

When you create your own schedule, it's really easy to get caught up in working and work off and on all day whenever time allows. But by doing this we might be taking away time we could spend with our families.

I am also guilty of this … I find myself blogging and working on this and my other websites when I don't really have to be.

Figure out what time you officially “stop working” and turn off the computer at that time, if possible. That's your time to focus on family.

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14 thoughts on “Staying Focused and Productive When You Work at Home”

  1. Hello,

    This is a great read. I’m a full-time professional freelance writer and I work from home. The challenges I face on a day-to-day basis have been mentioned herein. I’ll most definitely put them into practice.

  2. Another thing I try to do is work in small blocks of time…maybe 20-25 minutes. This can be difficult to do though, because sometimes I find that when I get really into something, I don’t want to stop until it’s finished.

  3. My strategies include doing chores a day before or way ahead, cooking food, and the rest is a matter of discipline (or struggle).

    If it is too hard to endure, I allow myself a 15-minute break of taking glimpse to other sites. Again, I have to struggle to abandon the sites and get the momentum to stay focus and do what is scheduled.

    I get to finish some tasks (I list quite a lot) while not being too hard on myself.

  4. A dose of my men’s muti vitamins, 2 apples, a granola bar, almost 8 cups of water, and a double shot of starbucks is my getting er’ done elixir. I’m in the zone for hours and I simply go at it! Here’s the kicker, I’m also making lunch, preparing snacks, reading to, practicing handwriting with, giving doggy back rides to my 4 year old daughter. I’ve stayed at home with her for a couple of years and she’s gotten so accustom to the flow of our day that she now allows me to go back to working after each task I successfully complete for her. Its great! Make sure to try my fuel/elixir and see if you don’t conquer your to do list.

  5. Hi Anna,

    I love reading your posts since they are quite informative and inspirational as far as freelancing is concerned. Am interested in freelance writing but it is such a bad luck that most content mills are found in USA; therefore, they do not accept registration for non-USA citizens. Examples include: writersdomain.net, textbroker.com, qualitygal.com, writeraccess.com, interactmedia.com, wordgigs.com among others. I feel am not ready to look for personal clients or to use bidding sites. Content mills help in sharpening a beginner’s writing skills. With such sites closed to non-USA citizens, it hard for a person like me to improve my writing. As a beginner and a non- USA citizen, how can you advice me? I will really be grateful for any helpful advice.

    Thanks

    • What country are you in? You will need to find a site that will accept writers from non-US countries. A lot of non-US citizens do pick up some writing work at places like oDesk and Elance. You may want to consider checking those.

  6. What a great article. I must have nodded my head a hundred times in agreement!!! It might seem silly, but since I get a (short-lived!) rush when one of my blog posts goes viral or I get a bunch of re-tweets, I try to harness that energy and do a 5 minute blitz in the kitchen or laundry room. Otherwise I’d just be refreshing the screen to beam at my stats – this is SUCH a time-waster in my day!

    • Oh yes, I hear you on the stats checking! That’s another thing I do constantly that takes away time šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by Christa!

  7. My biggest distraction is the news. If I’m online, I’m constantly checking the news sites to see what’s going on out there in the world. I’m trying to limit myself. But it’s hard.

  8. I had to test the kitchen timer while I cleaned up the house prior to work this morning. It worked like a charm. I was checking it and moving right along and even was done with time to spare.

    • It does work and never fails to amaze how much you can get done in that amount of time! So much nicer to work inside a clean house šŸ™‚

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