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Staying focused when working from home

Follow these tried & tested techniques for staying focused when working from home.

Working from home full time is a brand new territory for most of the population.

Some of us felt like we adjusted to it pretty quickly, only to find our productivity levels waning once the novelty wore off. Others can never seem to get the balance right – they find themselves working either too much or too little at different times.

The fact is, to be productive, even the most spontaneous humans need some degree of structure. It can be hard to stay focused when you can no longer recharge with your coworkers over a cup or tea or coffee.

That’s why we’ve gathered a few tried and tested techniques that could help you with staying focussed when working from home (In fact, you might decide to keep using them once you return to the office!)


1. Eat the Frog

Its bizarre name makes this productivity technique one of the most memorable. It’s also a really simple one designed to keep you on track from the very beginning of the work day. The phrase comes from the Mark Twain quote:

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

If you eat the frog first thing in the morning, nothing much worse can happen for the rest of the day, right? When applied to a work context, it means we should complete the most critical task – which more often than not is the one we dread – first.

Identify what your most important task is and move it to the top of your “to-do” list. In doing this, you’ll be able to spend the rest of your day on simpler, more enjoyable things.


2. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most well-known productivity techniques out there and has been widely used since it was invented by the developer, entrepreneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoro is “tomato” in Italian. Cirillo named the technique after the tomato-shaped timer he used as a student to keep track of his work.

One of the best things about this technique is that it promotes frequent breaks. Without structure, our minds tend to wander and we become distracted.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you work in a very focused way on one task before taking a breather. Entrepreneurs often refer to this method of working as “time blocking”.

How it works

It’s really simple.

  1. Set your timer for 25 minutes and work on one task for the duration of the time – this could be a big task like planning a presentation or something as simple as organising your inbox.
  2. When the timer buzzes, take a five-minute break to grab a glass of water, go to the loo or finally respond to that WhatsApp message your friend sent you last week. In other words, get those pesky things that take up mind space out of the way.
  3. Every 25 minute work + 5 minute break is called a “Pomodoro”. After four consecutive Pomodoros, take a 15 to 30-minute break to re-energise.

A good old fashioned timer or your phone will do the job, but there are also a few Pomodoro apps out there that you can also use, including Focus Keeper, Tomato Timer, Plantie, Focus To-Do and finally, Pomodoro.


3. SMART Goals

If you’re struggling to get started on a big project, try breaking it down into SMART goals. The SMART technique’s criteria are frequently attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept.

It goes a little something like this…

SPECIFIC – Outline exactly what you hope to achieve; set a clear goal centred around what’s important, why it’s important, who’s involved, resources needed, etc.

MEASURABLE – Decide how you’re going to track your progress and what success will look like once the goal has been reached.

ACHIEVABLE – Think about how you’re going to accomplish the task and how viable it is in terms of costs and resources.

RELEVANT – Consider how the project fits in with the company’s wider purpose and who’s the best person for the job.

TIMELY – Every goal needs to have a deadline to enable the individual/ team working towards it to stay focused on the task at hand.


Do you have any tried and tested #WFH productivity techniques? Share your hacks with us about staying focused when working from home.

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