How to Stay Focused During Self-Isolation

By  Derek Condon

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The last time I had to stay home with nowhere to go, and nothing to do, was probably the summer off between grade 7 and grade 8. At that time I would have been playing Xbox inside, watching TV, and playing outside in the yard.

COVID-19 has put a lot of people into an unfamiliar position. Nowadays I have bills, a mortgage to pay off, and all of the responsibilities of owning a home. As a self-employed person, my income is a direct result of the work and effort I put in each day. And let me tell you, working from home is awesome, but it can also be very tough.

When you go into the office every day, you really have no choice but to get to work. The harder you work, the quicker the day goes by, and vice versa. You don’t have the familiar distractions you have at home. It’s easy to turn on the TV, get caught up with small chores, or just waste an entire day doing nothing. You’re your own boss and there’s no one else to keep track of what you’re up to.

Working from home is great, but it can also be tough to get going. Here are a few tips to make your home workspace productive.

Set Up a Workspace

Where you set up for a day of work makes a huge difference. If you set up in your living room in front of your TV, chances are you’re going to turn it on at some point. Once it’s on, it’s easy to watch another episode and another.

Setting up in a space that’s meant to be a workspace will minimize distractions and help you focus on work. It’s like walking into your gym, or office, or favorite restaurant. As soon as you step in it, you know what you’re there for. A space can really set your mood.

Take the time to set up a workspace and make sure you personalize it. Make it comfortable for you—a place that you’re excited to go to each day. For me, I’ve turned a spare room into my home office. It’s got the typical things: a desk, chair, laptop, and monitor. But then it also has things in it just for me: books, plants, pictures, and posters.

Make a Routine

When you have all day to get your work done, you’ll realize you’re more productive at certain times and less at other times. Maybe you’re a morning person or a night owl. Maybe you get a second wind after lunch that lets you crush out your work. Not everyone operates best at the same time.

Without having to spend time and energy to get ready for and commute to work, you might find yourself feeling a little antsy with a little more energy than usual.

What I think is a good idea is to structure your day around when working works best for you. Try to fit in activities here and there. Sit down and have breakfast, take some time for lunch, get in a workout, or take a walk. Taking a break from your work to do something else is a great way to burn some energy and keep yourself focused. It could also mean not having a ton of things to do at the end of the typical workday.

When you figure out a routine that works best for you, it can really feel like everything has fallen into place. You’ll find your rhythm. It’s important to understand though that a routine might take some time. So if after a couple of days if you feel like you haven’t found it yet, that’s okay, you will.

Create a To-Do List

Once you have an awesome space to work in and you have your routine of when you’re going to work, all you need to know is what to do.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, having a to-do list is a lifesaver. When you have a list of things to do, you can always keep yourself busy. And as you’re busy checking things off the list, it makes it easier to keep that momentum going and check even more things off. It’ll also help you from falling into a lull between tasks.

It’s easy to get distracted at home. But setting up some simple rules will help you avoid those distractions. By having a defined space, a routine, and a constant list of things to do, you’ll be able to stay on track.

If you’ve tried any of these recommendations, let me know if they’ve worked for you. Or, if you have your own tricks to help you stay on track, let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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