6 Ways Staying Focused While Working From Home

Dan Nainan, interviewed by Huffington Post, says that he canít help but click on distractions when working on his computer like so many of us do when working from home. His solution: an Internet-blocking program that shuts down his Web access for 2 hours twice a day.

ďIím sorry, but try as I might, I could never, ever do this on my own,Ē says the NYC comedian (his computer work presumably being the book heís currently writing). ďI just donít have the discipline.Ē

You donít have to resort to technological mothering measures to staying focused when you work from home. It does take discipline, but it isnít as impossible as Nainan makes it out to be.

Make a home office. No, you canít work from your bedroom, or from your living room, or any room with a television, a game console, kids, friends, roommates, beer, bed, couch, amusing pets, or the like. If you have a spare room in your apartment or home, designate it as your home office. Try to make sure it has a window you can open so a brisk gust of fresh air will wake you to wake you up between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 (better known as post-lunch pre-quitting time coma time). Make sure you get sunlight in your room; if you donít, bring in a lamp or two or install lights with CFL bulbs that mimic sunlight.

Plan your workdays a day ahead. Itís not enough to write down a basic check list the morning of your workday. You need to do it the night before so you know what needs to get accomplished the next day and so you can feel the urgency to wake up to your alarm clock.

Eat breakfast, walk the dog, shower, dress nicely, and all the things youíd do if you were going to work in an office under a superiorís nose. Skipping any of these steps (unless you have a pet condor instead of a dog, in which case I donít know what youíd do) might make you feel lazy before you actually act lazy. Try it even for a day: work one last day in your pajamas while the dog (or condor) is staring at you needfully and youíve got nothing but coffee on your stomach. The next day, make some oatmeal, wear a belt, rub on some deodorant, and see how much more professional and thus productive you feel.

Cut yourself off from the people you love. It hurts, but itís necessary. Leave a sign on your (closed) door when youíre working and demand a strict ďno interruptions unless somebody is dyingĒ policy. Turn off your landline or cell phone unless youíre expecting a business call. Warn friends and family members ahead of time that no, you canít come by on Wednesday around noon to help clean out the garage; youíre working. If somebody close to you insists on interrupting because your job isnít a ďreal job,Ē have a nice sit down with him or her and explain all the ways in which his or her head is entirely up his or her rear.

Use a different browser to pleasure and for work. If you have constant access to your favorites on AdultSwim while youíre working, youíre never going to get anything done. Instead, try using a browser like Firefox during your breaks (schedule a five-minute break every hour) and use Google Chrome during work hours. Never, ever click on Facebook, MySpace (does anyone still use this?), or Twitter on your work browser, even if you claim itís for work because, letís face it, itís probably not. You can claim to be ďresearchingĒ public need-states and atmospheres all you want but do yourself a favor and keep all social media websites on your play browser.

Break up big tasks into smaller ones that you can complete in an hour, and use a kitchen timer to race the clock. Nobody wants to hear that high-pitched, ďthe sky is fallingĒ siren noise. It will motivate you to complete planned tasks on time.

Image Credit : TylerIngram

About hgreen

Heather is a freelance writer and the resident blogger for collegescholarships.org, an informational website offering tips about nursing grants.


  1. Using the different PC/Laptop for work and entertainment may also work great to overcome the distraction.

  2. Whenever I’m working on projects at home, I always try to have a schedule out for the week and then never touch it until things are complete. I always found that if you only do it by day, you always end up adding on additional items until you’re waaay to overwhelmed.

  3. I think this is happening to me too! Whenever I try to work from home in the living room, I will not be able to concentrate, there are bound to be things distracting me. I guess it will be better to go out and work in a cafe, Starbucks would be a good choice.

  4. This is definitely something that takes some getting used to. When you first start working from home, all of those distractions can be especially tempting. You just have to get into a strict mindset where you are not willing to turn on the tv or do other slacking off, until your day’s work is complete.

  5. A nice topic. Thanks.

    There are really several things which can distract anyone from working at home. It usually depends on habbits, hobbies, and other such interests. Few months ago when i started working at home, my biggest limitation was social networks, I was so social and such networks distracted me from doing my original job. I had to keep control on myself. Self-discipline is a key.

  6. I agree with Dana, using a different computer unit may be helpful. Separate work from play and organize what is needed. Balancing priorities too. What if a family member is involved in the business, do you think it would be difficult?

  7. I think setting up a home office and using different computer for work and for other things are good tips. They will work best for sure.

  8. I think a home office or 2nd computer may be too much of a luxury for many people to afford. I could see how it would be easier to avoid distractions if many of them are on a different computer though.

  9. “Plan your workdays a day ahead” In really believe in this and actually works for me. If you have a task list it will keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what you need to do.

  10. One of the tricks that works for me is playing music, It keeps me away from the TV, and the right songs motivate me, I actually have a playlist titled “work”.