Many more of us are working from home.

For some, this is a new experience, or it could be something that’s already been done for a while. But unless you have a separate office or a sound-proof room, it’s very easy to be distracted by what’s going on around you at home – whether it’s kids on half term running around the house, your partner hoovering, or the cat deciding your keyboard is the most comfortable place to sit in the house. So we’ve put together 6 things you can do to avoid the day-to-day distractions and stay focused.

1. Turn off mobile notifications

Stop your phone from constantly interrupting you by turning off the WIFI and mobile data while you work, so you can only receive calls and SMS texts. If this is too drastic for you, you can go into your phone settings and switch off notifications from specific apps. Or, here’s a useful article describing 6 apps that stop you using apps: 6 Apps to Stop Your Smartphone Addiction

2. Make a to-do list

Create a to-do list each day and tell yourself you must get it completed before you allow yourself to enjoy a welcome distraction. Place the larger and more demanding tasks at the start of your day, and follow them with a short break away from the computer. Then schedule the easier and less important tasks to be done in the afternoon, when you might not be as alert and therefore more likely to be distracted. Putting structure in your day will make it easier to complete tasks rather than procrastinate.

3. Noise cancelling headphones

If you don’t have a separate area of your home to work in, invest in some noise cancelling headphones. Prevent noises at home such as the doorbell, the TV, and home phone calls from breaking your concentration.

4. Use a separate browser or user login on your computer for personal use

If you have tabs or software open that is for personal use while working (i.e. gaming apps or shopping websites), you might be likely to use them. Put these things under a different user account on your computer to prevent temptation to use them while working.

5. Work at a café sometimes

This is an idea that I particularly like. Some cafes are currently providing special offers to encourage people to bring their laptop and work in them e.g. a sandwich, unlimited hot drinks and WIFI access for a set price. The change of environment can also boost productivity.

6. Explain to family and friends that you still have to work uninterrupted during office hours

What I noticed when I started working at home was often relatives and friends assume you’re available to chat any time, as you’re not in the office. It can be awkward to tell them you’re busy and unable to chat without causing offence, while it can be hard to ignore calls in case it’s something important. Just let them know the best time to reach you such as during your lunch time or after 5pm. This is another reason to have a structured day with set break times!

Working from home can be a great experience with many benefits, but you do need to reduce the chance of your attention going elsewhere and stay disciplined. Oh, and get a second keyboard for your cat!