Whether you're a graphic designer, an expert pianist or a card-carrying member of the political elite, you're probably reading this right now from your "home office" set up. Typically this is either the kitchen table or a small, homemade space that harks back to a childhood den. This new set up doesn't look likely to change anytime soon.
With so many distractions that range from noisy fellow house-dwellers to the temptation of that binge-worthy Netflix series, finding focus is probably tricky right now. If you're still acclimatising to this new world, we've prepared some tips for how you can balance things, stay on task, and get that ever-elusive focus back.
Holiday Around the House.
Whatever you're doing, plugging away at a computer for hours does nothing positive for your mental well-being, posture, or productivity. Break up the monotony, get up and get moving. As the saying goes, "The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them."
Jog Your Memory.
Studies have shown that our memory retains new information every fifteen minutes, so, giving yourself a mini-breather allows the info to filter into your brain like fresh coffee in a French press. This helps to process the knowledge for work-related tasks more efficiently. Are fifteen minute intervals too frequent? Try the Pomodoro Technique. Named after those cute little tomato egg-timers, this focusing method suggests a five-minute break every 25 minutes, working with the time you have - rather than against it.
Stretch for a stretch.
Remember those firebrand articles where experts said: "Sitting is the new smoking?" Well, even if you smoke like Snoop Dogg/Lion/Velociraptor - remaining in a static, stationary posture is terrible for your mind and body. Luckily, it's easily solved. During those quick breaks, put some time into moving with a couple of yoga videos. This helps reduce any mental blockages and helps improve blood circulation - restarting the brain for better levels of focus.
Give Peace a Chance.
No matter who you're living with - our houses can get pretty noisy. This noise causes higher levels of stress and makes it difficult to think about your task at hand. If you don't have a space to get away from it all (and getting outdoors isn't an option) - it's worthwhile laying down a couple of ground rules to make it happen. Try your hand at a non-passive aggressive "do not disturb" sign so the house knows when you're in your "double-down" time.
Drive Away Distraction.
It can be tough to get over the reversal of our houses as spaces for unwinding after a hard day's work to places where you do that work. From wide-screen HD TVs to library shelves brimming with books we've never got around to reading, our homes are full of tempting treats made for distraction. While burning your books and smashing your screens is one solution (which we definitely don't suggest), try and tone it down by keeping the TV off and seductive interruptions to a minimum. At the same time, put your phone on do not disturb mode and X those social media tabs when you're trying to focus - we promise it will make all the difference.
Make Tomorrow, Today.
Typically, if we're feeling overwhelmed, we tend to use delay tactics and procrastination as a method of avoidance. Pull the pin out of that confounded state by creating schedules. Whether it's daily or weekly, setting ourselves goals and results are a great way of minimising the anxiety that creates with procrastination, while also making us feel good at the day's end on what we've accomplished.
Light It Up.
Multitasking feels like a great way to get a lot done quickly - who doesn't want to feel like an eight-armed god made for hard work. However, it turns out; we're all pretty bad at it. Juggling multiple responsibilities reduces our focus on any single task. It's helpful to think of your attention as a spotlight - the more you spread the light, the less focus you have. Make the most of the resources you have available (with a laser-like mind) by focusing on one thing at a time.
Look the part to play the part.
There's a weird (yet simple) psychological aspect in finding focus - you could call it role-playing. By changing what you're wearing, you change your mindset. There's no need to go overboard with the suits, make-up and perfumes, but getting out of your pyjamas and into something a little more "pro" is a surefire way to find focus.