With a pandemic changing the landscape of the entire world, we’re all struggling with a new paradigm of living. For many people that means working or studying from home instead of going into an office or school — and that means learning to focus with a million new distractions.
While being able to work in pajamas may seem like a good idea, it can also mean isolation, loneliness and chaos. In short, working from home and figuring out how to stay focused can be a tough adjustment, particularly with everything else that’s happening in the world.
One recent survey found that 35% of workers said their mental health had deteriorated due to working from home. No socialization, no consistent schedule, no supervision, a lack of communication — these and other factors can make it extremely difficult to be productive and happy — or to focus — while working from home.
And if you’ve struggled with focus and concentration before, it’s likely that things have gotten even harder since the coronavirus struck. Maybe you’re finding yourself distracted, unable to concentrate, unsure of how to work without your usual structure in place. You’re not alone.
With the global situation we’re all dealing with, nothing could be more normal than feeling distracted or confused. So let’s talk about how we can improve concentration and find ways to increase productivity while working from home.
It may be tempting to work from bed in your pajamas, but lounging around in your PJs can actually rob you of your motivation. In order to make sure we sleep well at night, our beds should be reserved for sleeping and sex only — not work. Not to mention that not showering or getting dressed can be detrimental to your mental health. Set your alarm as though you were getting up to head into the office, and go through your full morning routine. That’ll help you focus on work.
Sleeping until noon will make it even harder when you do have to go back to the office and return to a normal schedule. Be easy on yourself and stick to your regular work hours, or choose what hours make the most sense for you. That way you can focus on work or school during the appropriate times.
We know, we know — your bed is comfortable. But you deserve a place to work that helps you focus on work exclusively. Use a desk if you have one, or set aside a designated workspace on a table. Use that same space for all work-related activity so you can focus, and leave it behind when you walk away. That way, you’re creating healthy boundaries between your work life and home life.
Get up and walk around, drink some water, do some stretches. One interesting study found that the most productive employees were those who worked for 52 minutes followed by a 17 minute break. That may sound like a lot of break time, but that 52 minutes is highly focused work time — no checking Facebook or chatting with co-workers. Research suggests that the human brain actually works best in high energy spurts followed by rest. These rest periods help you stay refreshed so you can increase your focus and concentration.
Meditation is one of the key tools to boost productivity and improve focus. One study found that meditation training helped with working memory while also reducing wandering thoughts. Another found that meditation actually helps your brain stay young and aids in attention span.
SOS Method is a next gen meditation and mind development technique that was developed specifically for people with high stress who struggle with meditation and the challenges it presents the average person: no time, busy mind and difficult to do.
The founder Marlise Karlin had the same difficulties, so after 25 years of global research, she infused ancient Eastern traditions with neuro science and technology software. The result was immersive meditations where: your mind doesn’t need to be still, there’s no sitting in silence, no efforting at all.
SOS Method has six meditations designed specifically to help you with focus and concentration, including two that are always unlocked for all users. Many of these sound meditations can be practiced in only 5 minutes. They include:
There are also a variety of programs dedicated to helping you improve focus and boost productivity:
Social media is the ultimate distraction. Restrict yourself to scrolling through Instagram only while on a lunch or coffee break. Put your phone away the rest of the time so you can focus on the task at hand.
From pets to chores to streaming TV, there are plenty of ways you can lose focus at home. But you can do your best to separate your work and home life, even while working where you live. Try to put your workspace in a place where you won’t be frequently disturbed or in the way of other family members. If your kids are at home, try setting up a schedule that allows them to work on projects while you focus on work tasks. Then, take breaks together. Focus together, play together. And for those of you super creative types that just can’t stay in one place, then set up various places within your home that are conducive to inspiring your work.
Did you know that exercise can actually help with focus? According to one study, regular aerobic exercise (the kind that gets your heart rate up) increases the size of the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. And according to "Spark - The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," exercise also enhances your focus and concentration for two to three hours afterward (hence why you should hit the treadmill before work).
This is an extremely difficult time for everyone. The whole world has changed in the last six weeks, and we’re all still adjusting. It’s likely you’re experiencing an array of emotions. Allow them to move through you, energy in motion is the same as emotion in motion. Be kind to yourself in the midst of all this chaos, and don’t burden yourself with high expectations. Just do your best, take care of yourself with practices that support your focus and happiness (like meditation and exercise) and give yourself a break. You deserve it.
Your Friends at SOS Method