Most professionals who work from home will say that staying focused is the hardest part of their job. With so many distractions at home, it’s easy to get sidetracked and realize at the end of the day you didn’t accomplish what you needed to. However, people who work from home often develop tactics and routines that help them stay on-task, and those approaches can work for online high school students, too.
Following is some of the most common advice from work-at-home professionals:
- Work when you’re most productive. Some people are most attentive early in the morning, and others may find they’re more focused in the evening. Pay attention to your natural rhythms, and schedule tasks at times that work for you.
- Take breaks – and time them. Working heads-down without a break can be mentally exhausting. Use an online productivity timer to make sure you’re taking frequent, timed breaks (but no more than 10 or 15 minutes, unless you’re eating a meal).
- Avoid social media. When you’re at home in front of the computer, you may be tempted to check Facebook, or to pick up your smartphone and check for notifications, but these interruptions can cause a 20-minute task to drag on for an hour or more. If you’re using a timer, keep your phone out of reach or in airplane mode while you’re working, and allow yourself to check social media only during your timed breaks.
- Get dressed. It’s true that some people who work from home wear pajamas all day, but many people find they are more productive when they get dressed before they start working, because that action tells the brain lounging time is over. Plus, the temptation to climb back in bed for a while is harder to resist, if you’re already wearing pajamas.
- Set boundaries. Even the most focused people may have trouble concentrating, if other members of the household are constantly interrupting them. Explain to other people in the household when you are unavailable – some people find that shutting themselves in a room and putting a “Working” note on the door helps others respect their need for quiet time.
If you’re an online high school student, it may take a few weeks to figure out what tactics are best for maintaining your focus. Experiment until you find a system that works for you.