How to beat distractions while working from home

Photograph: Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres/Unsplash

It's easy to lose focus when your home is your office. Handy tips on how to beat distractions, especially the post-lunch slump.

The problem with working from home is no matter how hard you try, you cannot really forget that you are, well, at home! You could do everything that they tell you in the self-help books and articles that tell you how to make the most of working from home and still discover that you’ve lost a good part of the day doing something completely pointless. So we’re not going to ask you to dedicate a space for yourself like Marie Kondo does but we will suggest you:

1. Listen to your body

This is perhaps the first and the most crucial thing about working from home. Very often, we tend to forget to draw the lines between being at home and being at work. And if we don’t listen to our body when it’s telling us to stop, you’ll realise that’s when the mind begins to wander and you begin to get distracted. So that’s the first thing to remember – never ignore what your body is saying.

2. Avoid watching that Netflix show during lunchtime

We get it; it’s just a 25-minute episode and you’re having lunch so it’s a tempting distraction. But how often have you really managed to just stick to one episode and not gone down the slippery slope? Before long, you’ve watched three episodes. Your boss may be none the wiser but how does that really make you feel about yourself? It’s best avoidable to watch TV during lunchtime since that’s the easiest way to slump.

3. Avoid nodding off

Talking of slumping, it’s easy to crash into the bed for what you think is a 20-minute post-lunch nap. Except that nap turns into a full-blown slumber and you’re rudely woken up by your boss’ call. Ask yourself, would you do this if you were in the office? If the answer to any of those activities is no, then it’s safe to say you should avoid doing those. Sleeping off in the middle of a work day is one such sin. Consider taking a walk or a quick shot of espresso to keep you awake and in the game.

4. Watch out for the triggers

Distractions can always be traced back to specific triggers. Ask yourself what is it that led you to waste an hour or three of your employer’s time and you’ll see that your brain follows a pattern. If you’re stressed, your brain tends to want to do something it thinks is relaxing – watch a video or hit up a web show. What happens, however, is that it takes you into the woods and before long, you’re lost. Every time you sense that trigger, be brutally honest and ask yourself what is it that you’re trying to avoid or what is it that’s really stressing you out. Once you address it, you’ll realise that it’s just as easy to not get distracted.

5. Avoid long Zoom chats

It’s understandable that you’re craving human interaction and it’s especially tempting to ‘make that quick call’ to your work buddy to gossip about the latest meeting or something the boss just told you. Instead of doing it immediately and getting distracted, consider timing it for a little later in the day, perhaps towards the evening when you have some free time and by which time you should have got through most of the day’s work.