Staying focused

After I hit publish on my last post, ‘You are here!‘, I realised I’d missed a few things that are just as important as how to prepare and be ready for a prolonged period of remote/home working.

When I’ve worked remotely before, either from a home office, the kitchen table, a hotel room, or someone else’s office (sometimes in a different country), I have always been conscious of the effort needed to stay focused, on-task, available, and productive. Here’s the main take away … you can’t do it all!

Seriously. You can’t. Think back to one of your typical days … say three weeks ago. What did you do? How many meetings did you have? Did you move between rooms or buildings, or otherwise change the location as part of your activities? We’re you available and focused every minute of the day, from the moment you sat down to the moment you left at the end of the day? Did you check your social channels for updates (work and personal), did you update any statuses (work or personal), did you read any emails not related to the day’s work?

It’s OK to admit you did not spend 100%, every minute of the day focused. No one expects you to be able to do that. Very few, if anyone, can. At some point, your mind will wander, your focus will drift, your concentration will dip, you’ll need a comfort break and probably some fresh air.

This new Covid-19/Coronavirus shutdown world we’re waking up to in the UK (March 2020) has a great many people now in enforced, and probably a prolonged, remote working environment. More often than not, that will be in your home. The distractions will be different, no doubt, and possibly more difficult to ignore (family, pets, environment etc.).

What would you consider to be procrastinating? Chores? TV? Phone calls? Food? Yes, I’d agree. What else .. what about surfing the internet? Reading websites or newspapers or books, even if it’s related to your work? Yes, that too.

Here’s my handy hint, my top tip to managing this lack of focus or procrastination. Admit to yourself it happens, learn if there’s a pattern to when or why you feel that way, and use that info to work with it instead of trying to ignore it. Ignoring it will only make it worse, make you feel (more) guilty from it, and try too hard.

Change your work habit, especially with the newly remote workforce in March 2020, and allow time when you lose focus and change your setting, do something less intense and/or more mentally stimulating. Get up and do something different for 10 minutes give yourself the rest from your task or activity. If you’re bothered about getting the washing out and drying, and it’s stopping you from giving your task your full attention, stop what you’re doing and go put the washing out. Sometimes it’s worth just doing whatever has taken your focus so you can get back to it.

Know yourself and manage yourself so you can stay effective and on task.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash