By Josh Felber
Photo Credit: Getty
While some states have opened and certain employees are returning to work, other areas and companies have remained (or are going back to being) relatively shut down. Perhaps you’ve figured out your teleworking schedule and you’ve adjusted to life at home. You might have gotten used to a lack of commute or your children’s remote learning.
As a father of three young children, I sometimes find it difficult to give my work and my kids the attention both deserve. Especially with all the distractions at home, you, too, might find it difficult to focus.
Like me, you also might be feeling that your productivity level at home still has not returned to where it was before March. Is it even possible to create a focused work environment at home? I've found the answer to be yes, but you might need to change your approach.
Eliminate external distractions.
Although it might seem obvious, eliminating distractions is a challenging but necessary step toward creating a focused environment. As an entrepreneur, my mind is constantly jumping from topic to topic. This is partially because business owners must juggle many things at once.
On top of keeping track of many things, we also have unnecessary external distractions. And by "unnecessary external distractions," I mean things like social media, text messages and phone calls.
My suggestion is to turn off your phone during working hours so that you can forget about social media and instead focus on work. If you have to leave your phone on, consider disabling notifications from any distracting apps, including sports or news apps. It’s easy to feel like a three-second scroll on your social media feed isn’t enough to break your concentration, but you might be checking your devices so frequently that you don’t even realize how much you’re doing it. Even checking a notification on your phone can disrupt your flow state. Once you are no longer “in the zone,” it can be a lot more difficult to return to your work and create the proper mindset to finish it.
However, while you have control over your phone and laptop, you might not always have an influence on the environment in which you’re in. You might be lucky enough to have a home office, but if not, you can create a workspace in your house that allows you to focus. Perhaps you can set up at your dining room table or buy a small desk to place in a bedroom. If you don’t have a secluded place where you can retreat, you could invest in items that make your home space more conducive to work. For example, you could purchase noise-canceling headphones or even a divider.
Create focus blocks.
As a father, I recognize that it is difficult — or nearly impossible — to have many uninterrupted hours of work. Anyone who is on lockdown with kids understands that even 10 minutes of free time is precious. If you and your partner both work, it can be especially challenging to make sure your children are taken care of, the house chores are done, errands are completed and anything else from pets to plants to groceries are handled.
One thing I suggest is rather than struggling through long hours of disrupted work, create short, focused blocks of time. For example, if your children are heading to in-person school or have virtual learning sessions, you can set aside that block of time in which you turn off your phone, silence social media and news notifications, and just concentrate on your work.
In my experience, this uninterrupted time will allow you to work more efficiently and quickly than if you sat through many distracted hours. If your children are very young and you have a partner who is also working from home, then you and your partner could alternate blocks of focused time. That way, if your children need something, one parent can attend to them while the other plows through their workload.
Communicate your needs to your family.
In order to better accomplish these tasks, my advice would be to involve your family. I believe that if you communicate your needs, they will better comprehend the situation you are in. Let them know when your focused blocks will be, as this will help them understand when you need time alone. However, I would also say that when speaking to your family, it’s important to relay that you want to spend time with them and you can complete household chores or errands after your block has ended.
I find that giving a hug or doing an activity with the family before and after each block is a great way to show that you love your family. It’s important to explain that you want and will spend time with them, even if you need a little alone time occasionally. Overall, the more communication with your work and your family, the better.
For the original article, visit: Forbes.