- Working from home has plenty of advantages, but it also lends itself to distractions.
- I work from home five days a week, and I’ve found it’s easy to get swept up in household tasks, television, social media, or other time-consuming things.
- I’ve found eight products that are crucial for keeping my productivity and focus alive.
I recently joined the 8 million or so Americans who work from home.
This new working arrangement has allowed me to gain much more freedom and control over my days. I can set my own hours, take snack breaks in my own kitchen whenever I want, and even work in pajamas if I see fit.
However, there is one pretty big downfall to working from home: I’ve found myself more and more susceptible to distractions. On days when I have to file multiple articles, I suddenly become seized with the strong urge to clean my shower, start a new show on Netflix, and Marie Kondo my entire closet.
To combat this, I use a few products I’ve recently purchased that help me stay focused and keep me on track throughout the day.
Here are eight products I use to keep me focused and productive while working from home.
I’ve tried many different planners in my life, from the bare-bones planners offered by Five Star, to the goal-focused Volt planner, to the complex, DIY Bullet Journal. None stack up to the Passion Planner, which asks users to fill out a “Passion Roadmap” before filling their weekly and monthly calendars with deadlines, meetings, and appointments.
I find the “Passion Roadmap” feature of this planner to be extremely useful. I decided to go freelance and work from home so that I could have more time and energy to pursue my true passion: novel writing. The Passion Planner is designed to consistently remind me of my short- and long-term goals as outlined in my “Passion Roadmap.” It also asks me to reflect each month on how well I achieved these goals – or not.
You can buy dated or undated planners in many different colours, and the website offers bonus printable pages to help you track your workouts, finances, notable habits, and even water intake.
While gel pens might seem like an odd productivity-increasing product for a professional working woman to endorse, hear me out.
I find that when I can fill out my deadlines and meetings for the week ahead with fun-coloured pens (colour-coordinated according to type of task, of course), I have way more fun using my planner. Consequently, I’m much more thoughtful in how I schedule out my time and assignments for the week ahead.
I try to stay off of my phone as much as possible during working hours. This helps me minimise distractions from social media, news alerts, and text messages.
However, when I first started working from home, I realised that this posed one big problem: I couldn’t use the built-in timer on my phone to time out my tasks.
Enter the good, old fashioned kitchen timer: I bought this timer from Williams Sonoma so that I can set small, timed writing goals without compromising my limited phone time.
As a writer, I sit a lot.
Moving my body before, during, and after writing sessions is crucial to not only preserving good posture, but also for brain function. When I find myself getting antsy and unfocused on my current writing task, I simply pop on a 15-minute yoga video on YouTube and roll out my Manduka Pro yoga mat. I always leave my mat feeling refreshed, grounded, and ready to dive back into my writing again.
I live right off of one of the busiest streets running West to East in Los Angeles, and most of my neighbours in my small, poorly soundproofed building also work from home during the day.
This results in car honks, television noises, music, and other people’s conversations filtering into my apartment all day long and threatening to break my concentration. These Bose noise-cancelling headphones have been a life-saver in drowning out external sounds for when I really need to buckle down and finish my work.
Studies have shown that incorporating indoor plants into office spaces can increase productivity up to 15%.
In light of this, I chose to add snake plants to my home work space. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have bonus health benefits – they create fresh oxygen (another helper of productivity) at night, helping to purify the area around my workspace.
Plus, snake plants are also one of the easiest plants to take care of – they can exist in both low and high sunlight and require minimal water to survive. Win-win!
A comfortable chair
As I mentioned before, I sit for the majority of my work day. Since I don’t have the space or funds for a standing desk or a treadmill desk, I decided to do the next best thing: buy this highly rated desk chair from AmazonBasics.
It’s extremely comfortable and supportive for my lower back. Plus, with no cumbersome arm rests, the chair is lightweight and easy to tuck under my desk at the end of the day.
Essential oil diffuser
Scientists have documented a clear connection between smell and productivity. Several studies have shown that certain essential oils can improve a person’s mental clarity and help them feel more alert, in turn increasing the quality of their work.
I’ve tried many different brands of diffusers, and found this one from Muji to be the most potent and long-lasting. I mix in either peppermint or rosemary oil (or sometimes a blend of both) from Now Foods, and take a sniff break whenever I feel like I’m hitting a wall in my work.
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