8 Unique Tips to Improve Focus While Working From Home

Productivity is a complex thing. With many of us working from home for the foreseeable future, focusing during work hours is of utmost importance. It can be hard to resist emptying the dishwasher, scrolling through Instagram, or playing with your furry best friends without the watchful eye of your manager. If you feel like your productivity has come to a halt because you just cannot seem to focus, we are here to help. We have put together a list of 8 tips below to help you stay on track and avoid the litany of distractions that come your way.

#1 Clock-out on Time

Working from home can sometimes blur the lines between your work hours and personal time. It can be very tempting to let your workday bleed a little longer or squeeze in that one email on a Sunday, but this can cause you to feel like you’re working all the time, potentially leading to burnout. To work sustainably, stick to a predetermined set of hours. If possible, perform a simple task like washing your face or your coffee cup the same way every day. This sends a signal to your brain that it is time to switch off from work. You can also neatly tuck away laptops or documents every evening, so you are not tempted to work longer than required.

A work briefcase alongside a clock suggesting clocking-off work is important.

#2 Try the Pomodoro Technique

Research shows that taking small breaks during the day (including your lunch break!) can work wonders for productivity. A great hack to help you focus is the ‘Pomodoro Technique’. Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato.”  Here, it refers to the tomato-shaped timer used by the technique’s inventor in the 1980s. In this method, you work in 25-minute chunks, called pomodoros. The idea is simple – Work for 25 minutes, take a break for five minutes, repeat. You can use a timer on your phone to keep yourself on track. When your timer goes off, stop, move away from your workspace and do something refreshing for 5 minutes. After 4 pomodoros (100 minutes of work time) take a longer break of at least 15 – 30 minutes until you’re ready to start another set of pomodoros. This method will kickstart your brain into work-mode, while also ensuring that you are taking healthy breaks. Give it a try!

Image of the tomato timer used by the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique

#3 Listen to Music

Listening to soft music while working is a scientifically-backed way to improve focus and boost creativity. Listening to relaxing compositions can not only prevent noise distractions but can also reduce the anxiety that stems from deadlines. However, it is important to listen to tunes that you already know to avoid giving attention to the music instead of your work. If your task needs you to process or create information, it is best to listen to lyric-free options. So, the next time office noise has you working like a snail, you know it’s time to get those headphones out.

Scroll right down to the bottom to find our Codex Work From Home Playlist to help you stay focused!

Image of iPod with earphones suggesting listening to music at work can help you concentrate

#4 Set up Rules for Emails

Most of us are guilty of at least a couple of promotions or newsletters arriving in our inbox on the daily that we should have opted out of long ago. These emails crowd our inbox and make it difficult and time-consuming to find important emails. To be able to stay focused and not waste valuable time, we recommend creating rules to automatically sort through what you need to see right away versus what can wait. Another great hack is to filter through senders. If the sender’s email does not belong to @yourcompany.com, filter those emails to a separate inbox so you can catch up on them at a later stage.

An image showing an overflowing email inbox

#5 5-Minute Mindfulness

Just like you commit yourself to conference calls and meetings, commit yourself to at least 5 minutes of mindfulness before you start work. Instead of checking your emails when you wake up, read a daily affirmation. Once you have read it, do a simple breathing activity. Relax your body, inhale, and then exhale slowly. Allow the next inhale to start on its own, letting your breath find its rhythm.  Do this for five minutes and your new-found calmness and positive energy will help you take on the day!

Image of a woman in a yoga pose

#6 Coffee to the Rescue

If you feel like you are a victim of the dreaded afternoon slump, a small cup of coffee can work like magic in getting you up and working. Countless studies have demonstrated that caffeine can be very effective in providing your body with energy and alertness. It is also proven to increase concentration levels, provide better motor and cognitive performance and decrease mental fatigue. If you are not a coffee person, grab a small piece of dark chocolate for that small energy boost and a helpful dose of antioxidants!

Image of a coffee cup

#7 Take a Minute to Doodle

Unlike many multi-tasking situations, doodling while working can be quite advantageous. According to this study conducted by the University of Plymouth, doodling can not only allow thoughts to come together but also improves the cognitive ability of an individual. The trick here is to draw simple doodles and nothing too complex to snatch your focus up.  Simple geometric shapes and designs tend to be the most effective! So, the next time you find yourself absent-mindedly doodling, remember that your brain is trying to focus.

Doodles that help you focus

#8 The Two-Minute Rule

If you feel like small tasks overwhelm you and make your to-do lists longer, this one is for you. The two-minute rule states that if a task takes you less than two minutes to complete, you should do it right away. These tasks can include replying to an email, making a payment or chores like washing your mug and watering your plants. Doing it right away will mean you won’t need to stress over it or procrastinate! It is also an excellent push to do things faster. For instance, if sending an email usually takes you five minutes, you now have a reason to complete it in two!

Image of a 2 minute timer

If you’ve just stepped into the work of remote working, check out our previous articles on how to work effectively during the outbreak and a detailed home office checklist!

As promised, here is our Codex Work From Home Spotify Playlist. So plug in your headphones and say hello to better focus and productivity!