Work from home- How to stay focused

When we walk into our office or workspace, our mindset changes to a work mindset.  Therefore, having a designated and separate workspace will allow you to get started more quickly and stay focused on work.

Now that we have created a designated and separate workspace, let’s make the most of it with these tips.

1. The chair and desk. 

People tend to overlook the importance of these to foundational pieces of your workspace.

The desk need not be fancy or even a desk at all. The two most important aspects a desk needs are plenty of space and someplace to hold supplies you will most often need.

A sturdy card table with an office organizer and some coffee cups to hold pens and paper clips can serve well until time allows you to get something more permanent or more to your liking.

The chair is a whole different matter.  You will not be able to grab a dining room chair and slide it under your desk.

You will be sitting at your desk even more than usual, as you will not have meetings to go to or the need to visit colleagues in their office.

Office Depot and other office supply stores have been deemed essential business.  Taking all appropriate health and safety measures to brave the almost empty streets, head into one of their locations, and try several office chairs.

The two key things to consider are comfort and support.  Please do not scrimp the chair. You will spend almost half your waking hours in it.

2. Let there be light

Natural vs. artificial light


It is common sense that we need a well light workplace.  Home office, spare bedrooms, or walled off corners are not designed for maximum productivity lighting.

You may remember that I suggested you face your desk towards a window.  Natural light signals our bodies and minds to be awake and doing something.  I keep the blinds of my three windows tilted up, this allows the sunlight in, but I cannot see any distractions that might be outside. 

As lighting is critical to productivity, we have to assume in many cases, the natural light and ceiling lights will not be enough.

This is easily remedied with lamps; ideally, a desk lamp, or in a pinch, bring over a couple of lifestyle lamps.

The important thing is to have plenty of light to see clearly as you work.

3. Go Green  

Some may complain about the lack of a green thumb. I can do one better.  I have a black thumb.  I mentioned my bias for Asian style earlier, and that includes a desire for a Bonsai Tree in my office.  I am proud to say that I believe I single-handedly supported the Bonsai Tree industry, having spent a small fortune on tress over the last 20 years.  I finally found a Bosnia that can withstand my well-meaning but brutal care.

 It is, of course, plastic, while it provides a splash of color and meets my desire for a touch of Asian flair; it is not actually alive.

If you have a green thumb, chose plants that add color and make you feel good.

If you share my inability to keep plants alive, consider the humble cactus, the Jade Plant, or Pothos Ivy, all are deemed hardy plants and can thrive indoors, unlike Bosnia Trees.

4. Add a few personal items 

You do not want a workspace devoid of life.  The plants are a great start, but this is your workspace. 

Tailoring the space to your needs will increase productivity.

“Offices devoid of pictures, souvenirs, or any other distractions are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into,” say psychologists in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

Do not overload your desk with something from every vacation you have ever taken.  Consider a picture of the family, the dog, and maybe a work-related award you received.

Just enough to remind you of why you are working so hard and add a little life to your workspace.

5. Get the right tech

Working from home presents a host of challenges (which may be why you are reading this book).

Do not let not having the correct tech add to those issues.  I will assume you have a computer and printer.  A smartphone is also a safe bet for most of us.

Try and keep this as close to your regular work environment as possible.  If you keep an adding machine on your desk at the office, have one at your home office as well.  That goes for any piece of tech or small office equipment.

Here are a couple of things you may not have thought of that might slow you down or expose your and your companies data to a breach.

You may need to increase your internet speed.  Not only will you be using much more bandwidth for work than you did before, but family members that are sheltering in place will also be on their devices gobbling up bandwidth.

Now that you have enough bandwidth, protect it.  

Use a VPN, Virtual Private Network.  

What is a VPN?

A VPN redirects your internet traffic through a specially configured remote server. Thus, hiding your IP address and encrypts all the data you send or receive. The encrypted data looks like gibberish to anyone who intercepts it, and it is impossible to read.

A VPN is generally offered at a per-month fee as part of a subscription. You can find options for around $7 a month or a yearly cost of approximately $50. This can boost the cost to around $70 a year in comparison, according to

6. Ditch the digital distractions.

One would hope that your computer at the regular office is configured to prevent Facebook Messenger and other personal communications from chiming in throughout the workday.

I must admit I have been guilty of clicking on a link to a two-minute video, then find myself an hour into the YouTube Rabbit hole.

Take the time to close down all those personal notifications during your work hours.

7. The family and distractions.

You may be able to turn off digital distractions. However, dealing with real people you love that are right is considerably more challenging.

The most important thing is to set the expectation from the beginning. Explain to your spouse and children that when you are in your home office, it is the same as you being at work.


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