Employees, everywhere around the world, are working from home — not by choice but by chance — in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. And, going by the ever-growing number of COVID deaths world-wide, it’s almost sure that we may end up spending a significant part of 2020 working from home.
There’s no denying that several employees may not be very pleased to work from home. The number one reason could be Attention issues — with so much drama unfolding around the house minute-by-minute. From babysitting to cooking, laundry, and top of that with the TV blaring all kinds of negative news 24/7, the question is, how do you focus?
But then, as I mentioned above, you don’t have a choice. Lockdown is the new normal. People need to get accustomed to working amidst family, kitchen, kids, and all the hullaballoo around.
To improve your focus during these contagion times, all you need to do is to resist and, at the same time, embrace distractions. How do you do that? The following techniques will help you get started:
1. Creative Work First, Reactive Work Later
While working from home, people who primarily take care of the kitchen and other activities may start expecting a helping hand from you. In such situations, you will have to make things loud and clear: Close the door or put up a sign saying “DO NOT DISTURB” on the door unless there’s an emergency. Or, you could place a chalkboard at the entrance of your door for kids to enter their requirements. You could address those requirements during your breaks.
Also, you can divide your day into two parts. The first four hours you can devote to doing creative jobs, and the next four could be left aside for reactive jobs. Creative tasks, such as writing articles, data analysis, and more, require a lot of brainpower. So these jobs should be done during the first half when it’s easier to focus.
However, with daycares and schools shut, it could be possible that the primary responsibility of child-care may be on your shoulders. In such situations, tackle low-attention, reactive jobs first. And once your child-care responsibilities are taken over by your spouse or a parent, switch to creative tasks.
Recognize the constraints about working from home and work your way around them.
2. Take Advantage of Productivity Apps
Productivity apps are known to keep the employees on their toes. So, if you are working for an IT company, using a productivity app like ProofHub would already be an integral part of your work environment. If not, then it will soon be, because employees are working from home and an all-in-one software like ProofHub gives your team everything it needs to stay in ultimate control of its projects, tasks, deadlines, and communications.
With this easy-to-use software, managers can assign tasks with deadlines, while team members can easily work on them and move them in the workflow using Kanban boards as they make progress in their assigned task. Online collaboration becomes seamless as there’s a dedicated space to carry out real-time discussions virtually. There are custom reports in which decision-makers can set parameters of their choice to plan projects and manage the resources efficiently. You also get a powerful online proofing tool as well that makes reviewing and feedback sharing effortless. You can try it out here.
While using a project Management software ensures that things don’t slip through the cracks, using a productivity app to track employees’ daily performance also becomes imperative to ensure that things are moving in the right direction.
At GoodFirms, we are tracking our employees’ daily performance through productivity software called “DeskTime.” This app is so designed that the moment you take your eyes off the PC and start browsing your social media accounts or anything else, it will show ideal time. It also has got a productivity bar, highlighting your productivity every minute, let alone the hour of the day.
3. Stop being a Spasmodic Hercules
Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer, who was not only a prolific novelist but also known for revolutionizing the British postal system observed…“A small daily task, if it is really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”
If you are a spasmodic Hercules, you will be highly disorganized: working sporadically, inconsistently. You’ll wait for the right mood to set in to get work done.
However, this model of work won’t be practical while working from home. You need to be disciplined enough to let not your mood dictate your day. I repeat: Be disciplined enough to let not your mood dictate your day. Self-discipline is doing stuff; you need to do even if you are not in a mood to do it. Professionals do their job even if they don’t feel it.
Long story short, if you are facing attention issues, fasten your seat belt and get the work done, come Corona or high water. Period
4. Time Management and Attention Management should Work in Alignment
As it turns out, you will find loads and loads of theories on time management but not much on Attention Management. Even Peter Drucker, the marketing guru quotes, “Time is an executive’s scarcest and most precious resource.”
However, in hindsight, I feel, attention management and time management are synonymous. If you had 8 hours at hand to finish a project, which you think is enough to complete the project; however, you go around chatting, gossiping, whiling away your time on the internet, and then spend some more time in front of the TV catching the latest on COVID-19. What do you think; will you be able to complete the project within the deadline?
Nope, for sure.
Even if you manage to complete, it would be sloppy and won’t be living up to the required standards because you mismanaged your time. Your attention wasn’t there when you needed it the most.
In simple words, both time management and attention management should walk hand in hand.
A couple of books, written by productivity guru Laura Vanderkam can be useful in this regard: 168 hours: You have more time than you think and Off the Clock.
5. Keep an Eye Out on Yourself
Yes, you need to keep an eye on yourself. You need to know where you are “spending” time. It’s generally observed that most of the time we let our attention ‘off the hook.’ We let it drift to places and things without much control. For instance, we may start our day mindlessly browsing our Instagram feed and might as well end the day doing the same.
The first step towards changing a bad habit is to realize that you are doing something wrong. Only with that sort of realization, you will be able to change that habit.
The moment you realize you are paying attention to something unproductive, stop doing it. You need to nip such habit in the bud itself, or else you will tend to repeat it. That’s why you need to keep an eye on yourself. It’s better to instantly focus your attention to something productive right away to cut out the unproductive activity- it could be as little as an inspiring quote to get you back on track.
6. Tame your Technology
If possible, keep your phone in silent mode or the drawer. The default setting in your devices and apps makes you interested in them, and disinterested in your real jobs.
You need to keep your tech away from you if you don’t need them.
I know, this sounds good in theory but would be really difficult to apply in real life, especially if you are immersed in distractions for long. This only means you need to double down your efforts to keep away from these gadgets if you seriously intend to work for extended periods without distraction.
Further, you need to block distracting websites as well. Furthermore, ensure that your emails and news sites are checked in a controlled manner.
7. Take Breaks to Recharge
If you think checking your social media feeds or the emails is equivalent to a break, think again. Real break means standing up and taking a walk around your workspace. It also means taking a break from what you are currently doing so that you concentrate better on what you are doing once you are back at your desk. This kind of break helps the brain recharge.
You can also undertake some household chores after spending your time in high-attention jobs. Like putting dirty laundry in the washer, taking a snack break, and so on.
You can use your breaks as rewards as well. For instance, if you have finished writing a specific section of the article you initially planned to finish, you could walk to the fridge to have a scoop of ice cream.
Tying personal and professional together will help you feel productive and better at the end of the day.
8. A Focus-friendly Environment
Your work environment also has a more significant role to play when it comes to your ability to focus. Always keep your desk clutter-free and, if possible, your surroundings too. If you don’t know, even clutter distracts.
Also, you could avoid the chaos around by putting on your headphones and listening to the right kind of music.
Sure, attention doesn’t come easily in these pandemic times when you are confined to working from home. But then, don’t forget, attention –management is like a muscle. The more you can train it, the better you get at it.
Start developing your attention by setting up small, reachable goals. Write down your success in a diary and keep in mind that the only limits you have are the ones that you keep for yourself.
So, tell us, are you facing any attention issues while working from home? If yes, how are you coping with the same?
Author Bio: I am Jennifer Warren, a Content Crafter with GoodFirms , a research and review platform for service and software companies. The company provides a curated list of top mobile app development companies, top writing service companies among many others.
Thank you for reading this,before you go
Clap: if you enjoyed reading this article, so others can find it
Comment: if you have a question/suggestion you’d like to ask
Follow: ProofHub to read all the articles
- Top 12 Work from Home Tools to Make Your Remote Work Life Easy
- 7 Best Ways to Work from Home Faster in a Remote Team
- Work From Home Tips for Managers from Experts across the Globe
Top Attention Management Techniques While Working from Home was originally published in ProofHub Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.