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How to stay focused when Working Remotely

Stayng focused while working remotely might be a tough challenge. We have asked the NomadX community of remote workers how they stay focused while working remotely and we combined it with our experience.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer working for other companies and projects on the internet, when working remotely you are responsible for your productivity and focus. We know, that can be a challenge some times. We all have our weaknesses on the Internet, that little distraction that can ruin several hours of productive work. It’s a long process, but it’s our duty to get better at avoiding distractions and improving the productivity, so we can get more stuff done in the same time window, or get some free extra time.

Stay focused when in Remote Work
Focus while working remotely – Lisbon, Portugal (Photo by TravelB4Settle)

We have three words for you to focus on to keep your focus on (pun intended) when working remotely:

PLAN > PREPARE > COMMIT

Do those three and you will stay focused for longer every day and, while you are at it, also bag some long term goals.

PLAN ahead, to achieve maximum focus

As the old adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will any of your goals. Planning is a necessary step to long and short term success. If you don’t believe us check out the myriad of published books available on the topic. To help you plan your success, we have broken it down into smaller useful points:

“Most importantly, planning the day ahead, set priorities, and tackle task by task!” – Miguel

Write a list

Write down the tasks you want to complete and organize them in a to-do list. Have the day planned out the night before and leave it on your desk so that you can get right into it as you sit down to start your working day.

“Write down the tasks and the reward (reading a book or watching a movie)” – Mirakme Kme

“Carrot and Stick” approach

Well done, you have written your list. Maybe that’s enough to motivate you but it could also just look downright intimidating or depressing. If that’s the case, try attaching a reward to every task to have something to look forward to in the short term. Together with the promise of a reward, the menace of the punishment should also come. Set a punishment if you don’t achieve your set goal. Like cleaning those dirty bathroom tiles or running an extra lap tonight.

Do the most difficult thing first, the “eat the frog” example.

Stay focused when remote work
Writing lists and tackling tasks, one by one (Photo by picjumbo)

Visualise

Using visualisation techniques daily helps stay the course and achieve your goals. Decide why you are doing what you are doing, see how that translated into your to-do list, think about why it is important to you that you complete those tasks in front of you. That can be anything from providing for your family, wanting to buy a boat, paying for your honeymoon, etc. Print a single photo or create a small vision board and have it on your desk with FOCUS written across it. When your mind wanders the moment your eyes catch sight of it your motivation will be back.

Remove life distractions

It’s impossible to focus on a task at work when you have continuous stray thoughts of pressing commitment and personal life worries. Need to find a house by next week or I’m homeless, have to ring the insurance company before they close, haven’t dropped in on my grandparents in weeks, and so on and so forth.

If you find that your focus keeps getting interrupted by similar thoughts, you only have one solution. Go do it! Take a day out of your workweek, or more if it’s needed, and address all of the pressing issues that disturb your mind. Resole anything that can’t wait and then attack your project with a clear mind and sole focus.

Remote work and getting focused
Trying not to distract each other – Lisbon, Portugal (Photo by TravelB4Settle)

Multitasking: a no-no

Don’t multitask, it’s a myth. What you are really doing is quickly switching between goals but that comes at a cost, which can be as much as 40% of your productive time. Allocate enough time to every task and have a contingency plan if you run over.

This was and still is a huge challenge for us. We often convince ourselves we are good at multitasking, but we are not. It may even work for a bit, but after a while, we’ll end up exhausted and our productivity only got worse.

PREPARE for the day, to stay focused

Okay, now that you have properly planned your work, the day has come to do it. Read the below tricks to ensure your focus is uninterrupted while you work.

“Phone always on silent, occasionally checking it. Setting boundaries” Alexandra Zuber

Block Social Media

In Europe, we spend an average of 1hr 15min on social media a day as for the latest data, and the trend is definitely upward, with the numbers growing every year. Social media (that includes emails) is one of the greatest interruptions to the workflow. You have heard this before? Nothing new, you might think, but are you avoiding it?

Social media focus remote work
Getting work done without distractions (Photo by Vlada Karpovich)

Choose the right music

Have a playlist that helps you focus.

We have had the widest range of music being put forward by the nomad community:

I (Miguel) personally like lyric-free music (normally high BPM). Oli Nold recommends country music, Anja S Johnsen lo-fi music, Ioana Conchi Trance music, Dianne Sy likes her Disney songs. Really something for everyone’s taste. Francesca Dessì told us she just puts her headphones on without any music… We couldn’t imagine working in complete silence!

The point is, do whatever you have to do to get in the zone and do whatever you have to do to stay there.

Plan your breaks

Taking time-limited breaks has been another very popular suggestion. Set a timer for how long you will work and how long your break will be. Having a break is important to regenerate and keep up your energy up.

Go to the bathroom before you sit down to work and have a drink ready next to you so that you can work uninterruptedly until your timer goes off.


Read also: The Best Morning Routine for a Productive Day: make it yours!


COMMIT to your work, stay focused

Well done, you have planned and prepared your day, now the last step is to commit to it!

“Sharing working time with someone else who is working and wants to be productive makes a great difference” – Francesca Dessì

Find the right company

Working in a stimulating environment with people that share your mindset allows you to stay focused on the task at hand. If sharing a space isn’t enough for you, our suggestion is to find a friend or co-worker that will hold you accountable for your work. You would make a commitment to each other to set a goal for the day and present your work at the end of the day. Shame is a powerful motivation. You wouldn’t want them to know you spent all your time surfing the net or on 9GAG and got nothing done all day…

Staying focused in remote work
Commitment to staying focused – Azores, Portugal (Photo by TravelB4Settle)

At NomadX, we have a vivid community of Remote Workers and many events happening all the time. It won’t be hard to build connections and find someone to share that commitment with you!

HOT TIP: If you are not ready to put yourself out there with your friends and colleagues, rely on technology. FOCUSmate is an app that allows for virtual co-working. You book a live session with another user and become each other’s accountability partner.

“Oh and, co-working spaces, I live near a small one these days here in Thailand: for two months now, we’re always the same four people working there, but the collective nomad vibe is in the room and it fuels my desire to be productive. 😊” – Ioana Conchi

Work at the right place

Have a designated work area where you only work, and keep it clean and organized. Whether that’s a rented desk, a coworking space, an area at home, having a fixed working space is important to get work done. Your mind will automatically associate being there with working and it will focus more easily.

“All about creating habits” – Jeroen Oerlemans

Get your timing right

Our last tip is to have a work routine. Always start work at the same time and try to be consistent with your first actions. Just like having a dedicated desk will help you focus so will having a regular routine.

If you work at home with your family or roommates, share your timetable and be clear about blocked out times. Give yourself the same treatment by blocking out time in your calendar for work.


We hope that our PLAN > PREPARE > COMMIT approach will help you stay focused at work and achieve your targets. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips and tricks of the trade to share with the rest of the remote work community.

ABOUT NOMADX

NOMADX is a real estate technology platform developed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing global community of location-independent remote workers, or “Digital Nomads”.

As Digital Nomads ourselves, we know what the market is looking for: trusted, affordable accommodations in highly-attractive locations worldwide at 45% less than AirBNB. We also offer educational masterclasses to help master the lifestyle as well as community events to help foster new friendships.

Please join our community of Digital Nomads and remote workers from around the world:

Instagram: nomadx.experience

Facebook: NOMADX

Facebook Group: Support Community for Remote Workers

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