Seriously, y’all – how hard is it to stay focused while working from home? I talk to other bloggers and affiliate marketers, and one of the problems I hear crop up time and again is this inability to stay focused.
Of course, it’s no wonder – when part of your job actually involves being on Twitter and Facebook to connect with other people, it’s easy to lose focus! Groups, pages, games, Tweet Parties… there’s so much going on all the time that it can be really hard to stick to the task at hand.
How many times have you gone to Facebook to post something for your blog, then got sucked into reading posts on your wall? Suddenly you realize, “I’m supposed to be working!” so you close Facebook – only to see the post you were supposed to have shared half an hour ago, completely forgotten.
And it’s not just that – you’ve got emails, private messages, telephones ringing…. and when you’re a WAHM, you’ve got kids crying, husbands asking “Where’re my clean t-shirts?” and those dirty dishes in the sink that keep creeping back into your mind and making you feel guilty.
Please tell me that last one isn’t just me? 😀
With all the little distractions that pop up over the course of a day, sometimes I feel like I’ve “nickel’d and dime’d” my day away… those little 5 or 10 minutes of distraction can add up to a lot of lost time. And I don’t know about you, but when something distracts me even for just a minute – (Oh look! Candy Crush!) – it can take another couple of minutes just to get my brain back where it was before. ESPECIALLY if I was writing.
So the biggest question, I think is this…
Glad you asked! I’ve got a few quick strategies you can use to help you stay focused while working from home. Practice them until they become habits, and I promise you’ll see an increase in efficiency while you’re working online.
Use A Timer
There’s something about giving yourself a time limit that improves your ability to focus. Turn your work into a game of “beat the clock” with 25 minute work periods followed by a 5 minute break. I do this when I’m writing – set the timer for 25 minutes and try to beat my record for “most words typed”. (I’m over 650 now, thank you very much!)
If I’m working on other tasks, like social media or images, I’ll set a 45 minute timer, then take a 15 minute break. That works gangbusters for me, because 45 minutes gives me enough time to really get something accomplished. Then, the 15 minute break is enough to get up from the computer, walk around, maybe vacuum the floor or clean a bathroom.
A hidden bonus with giving yourself a time limit – it forces you to focus on the aspects of your work that are the most important. If you’re giving yourself 1 hour to finish a task, you need to forget the superfluous crap, and focus on the meat and potatoes.
You can also use your breaks to check your email or RT a couple of tweets… These little moments of online time are your reward for getting so much done within your allotted time. However, it’s also a good idea to set a “break timer” too. Otherwise, your 5 minutes of tweeting can turn into a 2 hour marathon.
If You Aren’t Using It, Close It
It’s easier to stay focused if you close down everything you aren’t using at the moment. That means if you aren’t using the internet, turn it off! Close out of your email, games, Facebook, TweetDeck… you can even unplug your landline and turn off your phone if you don’t need them for work. The fewer distractions,
None of those emails, tweets or status updates are going to disappear; they’ll all be waiting for you when you turn stuff back on. Remember as my friend Jackie Lee says over on It’s a Wahm Life… Being focused isn’t about saying YES to things you want to do, it’s about saying NO to the things that aren’t moving you forward!
Remember my scenario above, about getting sucked into your Facebook timeline? Well, there’s an excellent little extension called News Feed Eradicator for Chrome that will make your timeline disappear. You can still go to Facebook and post, do what needs to be done in your groups and on your page, and even use Messenger to chat – but all those distractions on your timeline will be GONE. It’s amazing how much I get done when I have it enabled.
There’s one for Firefox too, called Kill FB Feed, but I’ve not used it so can’t say how well it works.
Count to Ten
If you’re a work at home mom, you know the drill – when the kids are about to send you off the deep end, stop, take a few deep breaths and count to ten.
The same can go for your distractions. Next time Twitter’s pulling on you like the moon pulls the tides, try doing the same thing. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and give that urge a chance to fade away. Ask yourself “Do I really want to waste time on something unproductive or would I rather do something worthwhile?
I’m the first to admit that the internet has really had an effect on my attention span, and has made it really hard for me to stay productive while I work from home. If a page takes more than a second or two to load, I’m gone, and I can’t even watch Walking Dead on Netflix without having Candy Crush open in another window.
But when it comes to work – this is your livelihood. This is what you have to do to reach your goals and do what you gotta for your family. It can be challenging at first – believe me, I’ve been there! But you can do it! You can get more done in less time by improving your focus and avoiding the time wasters… at least until the work is done!
Now no more excuses – Get out there and start taking action!