5 Ways to Stay Focused in the Age of Coronavirus

5 Ways to Stay Focused When Working From HomeThe Challenge

I hope that one day soon I’ll need to edit this blog post with an update to remove all mentions to the word “coronavirus.” Until then, it’s going to be a fact of life — professionally and personally — that we’re all going to work from home, learn from home, catch up with friends from home, etc. for the foreseeable future.

The challenge is not how to do “Everything From Home” (EFH TM) — the challenge is how to do it with intention, with presence, and with focus. Because it’s too easy to let ourselves get distracted by other things, whether it’s the media coverage of coronavirus or trying to keep your kids engaged while school is suspended. You and your company still have aggressive growth targets to hit. You need to stay productive and focused.

At OpFocus, our team is now 100% remote. We’ve been going through the same challenges as other businesses, trying to keep ourselves engaged and productive despite everything going on around us. And we’re still committed to hitting our own growth targets and delivering the world-class service we’re known for.

We asked our team across the United States and Canada what they’re doing to stay on top of their game while working from home. We’re happy to share with you our experience for staying productive, engaged, and focused during these crazy times.

Our Experience

1) Set a Productive Routine

Schedule out your day! There are an entirely new set of distractions and routines that working from home requires. I encourage folks to schedule both working time and breaks to ensure you are staying on task while avoiding burnout. – Chandler

Keep your routines, start work at your normal time. Take scheduled breaks to get up and stand, walk around, stretch, move your body. And just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should work 24 hours a day. Stop work at your normal time and do your normal home routine as well. Be sure to spend time with your family and decompress from your work day. – Alysia

Get dressed! Don’t work in your PJ’s or ‘home clothes’. Wear what you would wear to the office. – Jack B.

Don’t start working right after waking up. Stick to your morning routine — answer the call of nature, eat breakfast — and ideally, make time to meditate or write in a journal. Then you’ll feel centered and zen when you start working. Win the morning, win the day. – Jarin

2) Stay Healthy and Energized

Make sure you drink water during the day. Many times your normal routine to get up and get water or coffee are dependent on your co-workers, so you will have to do this on your own. Also don’t skip lunch. You need to give your body fuel. – Alysia

Exercise in the morning, even if it’s for 5-10 minutes. Eat a healthy breakfast (all meals really.) For those that do any type of fasting like I do, then no breakfast is fine based on your fast. – Sebastian

I enjoy drinking tea throughout the day, particularly herbal tea that has “warming” ingredients like ginger and turmeric, which are great for boosting the immune system. I’m hyper-sensitive to caffeine, which perks me up in the morning, leads to an afternoon slump, and then I have trouble going to sleep. I find that herbal tea keeps my energy level consistent, and it’s good for you! – Jarin

I do yoga more to keep my body limber than mindfulness for my mind, but I swear by this 15 mins routine. It’s easy enough for beginners to learn yet challenging enough that I still feel great after each time I do it. – Adrian

3) Connect With Your Co-Workers

Reach out to your co-workers. If you normally have time to turn around and chat with them, you will have to do this virtually now. Try scheduling a virtual coffee break with colleagues for 10 min, or text/call them to check in. The human voice will be important now that we are not in close proximity to one another like normal. – Alysia

Talk to people. Call your colleagues or message them on Slack. Communication is the most important thing in a remote environment. Collaborate using a tool like Quip (which is now free — check out their own WFH tips), Slack, etc. – Jack B.

Talk with people, and when you do, don’t dwell on COVID-19. (Or politics.) There are much more positive topics to busy your mind with. – MJ

4) Create Your Work Environment

Don’t work in bed, or on the couch. Find a dedicated work space and keep it separate from your home space. And if you listen to the radio at the office, then do it at home. Don’t work with the TV on… It doesn’t help. – Jack B.

Don’t turn on the TV during the day, even while you’re making coffee. You don’t need that kind of distraction. If you like background noise while you work, there are videos on YouTube that might help. And if possible, work behind a closed door without the kids or pets in the room. – MJ

I like to mix custom sounds for creative or focused work with this white noise/sound app, available for free on iOS and Android. Try “lapping water” with “birds” for a quaint sense of the outdoors, or if you’re missing the hustle & bustle city soundscape, “urban rain” with “city ambience.” My favorite for deep concentration: “cavern” and “campfire” paired with “focus” binuaral beats. – Jarin

Listen to music that helps instill focus. I also find listening to music with no lyrics helps me a lot. Most of the music I listen to are instrumentals, normally musical scores from movies, or great composers in general. These are some good playlists on Spotify. I’ve also created a playlist on YouTube that you are all welcome to use. – Sebastian

5) Keep Yourself Motivated

Tell yourself you are great and will accomplish your goals for today (regardless of remote work, this is something I practice daily.) – Sebastian

Before starting on work, think of 3 things you feel grateful for, and set an intention for what would make your day great, personally or professionally. I use this Five-Minute Journal to begin my on a positive note. It’s easy to let our minds slip into the current crisis we’re in. But we have goals to hit, and our families, teams, and communities to think of. There’s a lot to be thankful for. – Jarin

Final Thoughts

Each of us works differently, and some of these will work better than others for you. What strategies are you using to help stay focused that we didn’t mention? Comment below and we will add your tips!

If you are working from home as a parent, check out our companion blog post on How to Care for Kids as a Work from Home Parent.

Stay healthy — stay productive — and stay focused!

Brian Waterson

about the author

Brian Waterson

As Senior Director of Operations, Brian’s job is to ensure that his colleagues in Marketing, Sales, Delivery, and Finance have the systems, tools, and processes they need to excel in their daily work. For him, the role is most rewarding when he is enabling the rest of the company to do their job even better. 

His Salesforce career spans about a decade, split almost equally between client-facing consulting work and internal system administration and product ownership. Like many people, Brian fell into Salesforce work accidentally and was quickly hooked. Some of you may remember him from his previous days at OpFocus in 2013-2017 where he worked with many fantastic clients.

Brian holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University and a MA in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London.

For Brain, one of his favorite Salesforce features is Analytics CRM (formerly TableauCRM / Einstein Analytics / Wave.) Compared to standard Salesforce dashboards, he feels it provides much more flexibility when visualizing and joining data. It has been great to introduce it into the OpFocus product mix!

We often forget that it is now Salesforce, but he is also a huge fan of Slack. Brian is excited to see how Salesforce better integrates the two platforms in future releases.