How to stay focused when working from home

Juliet Funt is a CEO, global keynote speaker, and Fortune 500 advisor who specializes in unburdening talent from low-value busywork and unleashing its full potential. In 2020, she presented at Hyland’s annual user conference, CommunityLIVE, and shared tips for how to stay focused when working from home — something most office workers did more of than ever before starting that year.

Funt’s approach is to utilize strategic pausing and thinking time — what she considers essential for high performance. She even goes so far as to call herself a warrior against modern workplace busyness that saps our creativity, productivity and engagement.

Liberate talent to work more efficiently

If you don’t give yourself free time, you creativity and stamina can suffer, Funt says. Making matters worse, you don’t have the time to creatively strategize.

Working with both large and small organizations as they have ramped up remote working, Funt and her team found these shocking statistics:

  • 58% of employees had never worked from home before
  • 52% felt the ambiguity of the current situation was limiting their ability to focus on work
  • Only 31% were clear on what they were even supposed to do

But there’s a bigger issue: The transition was the problem. Teams were forced to quickly adapt, so they cobbled together functional ways of working.

But functional and optimized are two incredibly different things, says Funt. So let’s address that.

5 tips for staying on-task in your remote office

Over the years, Funt and her team developed productivity tools that give you a repeatable, dependable framework for work-from-home efficiency. They’re part of a bigger strategy that she shared with the virtual audience at CommunityLIVE.

#1. Write down your daily must-do’s

Leave a pad of paper next to your computer where you list the three to five most critical tasks you need to do that day. Paper is direct and clear, and once your tasks are completed, you get the universally satisfying feeling of physically checking it off. Donezo!

#2. Create a visual office connection

Many of us don’t have dedicated work-from-home space. Meanwhile, when people do start returning to offices, they might be doing a hybrid style for a while – working from both home and the office.

To adjust successfully, Funt’s advice is to create a visual groove as part of your setup: A semi-circle of the same visual cues that you pack up and bring wherever you go, telling your brain “it’s time to work.”

#3. Plan your productivity with time wedges

To successfully manage your day, imagine wedges of open time that you insert in between all the business. As you use this tool, it calms your body and maintains your stamina.

Knowing that you control your breaks also allows you to maintain more consistent energy.

#4. Go on the email diet

The most powerful people control when they touch email, says Funt. Many do so by creating a schedule.

A schedule helps you gain control over your inbox. For example, if your job allows you to do so, only check it at the top of the hour.

Funt’s team also likes a concept they call the email diet, where you only check email in the same intervals you feed your body. Prescribed, intentional use of email and all the other applications you rely on every day gives you the time to open up those wedges and get deeper work done.

#5. Communicate effectively with any at-home “co-workers”

If you have younger children, the current work-from-home situation can be incredibly challenging. Funt advises to have direct conversations with your supervisors on how to navigate the situation in a successful, yet realistic sense.

However, if your children are older, they might understand a whiteboard boundary that sits between you and them. Teach them that for needs that aren’t emergencies, write those needs or wants on the whiteboard. Then, when you’re taking a break, you can address them.

This gives you control over your day.

Work smarter

Take if from our brand ambassador and PGA Tour star, Xander Schauffele: Work smarter, not harder.

The tools above are a great way to help you do your job to the best of your ability, while still maintaining your sanity. Which is a good thing.

Learn more | Sustaining a remote workforce: 5 questions for leaders to evaluate organizational preparedness

Scoop Skupien is a former radio station mascot. A rabbit, if you really want to know. These days, he's a content marketing manager at Hyland. The author of three books, he’s been writing about tech at Hyland for more than a decade. His industry certifications include CDIA, ecmp, and an MBA.
Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien is a former radio station mascot. A rabbit, if you really want to know. These days, he’s a content marketing manager at Hyland. The author of three books,... read more about: Scoop Skupien