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How to Minimize Distractions While Working From Home: Tips and Strategies for Better Focus

Feb 16, 2023
(updated: Feb 17, 2023)
Lesson duration: 5 min

Working from home is both a dream and a nightmare. Some people love working in their living room because they can wear comfortable clothes. Other people miss their co-workers. Most people recognize how different it is to do your job from home, though. Improving focus and productivity is a key part of becoming a more successful freelancer. 

In this lesson, we'll give you tips and strategies to help you get more done every day.

How to minimize distractions at home

When working from home, it’s only a matter of time before the distractions start rolling in—notifications, disruptions by family members or roommates, background noise, the urge to see what’s happening on social media, and numerous other things that threaten to pull your attention away from work. 

But it’s important to reduce these distractions as much as possible. It’s these distractions that can lead to long hours of little productivity which, in turn, creates longer days and an unhealthy work-life balance.

Here are some ways that you can beat these distractions and live a healthier work-from-home lifestyle.

Freelancer is working from home on his sofa

Establish a dedicated workspace

Creating a dedicated workspace is an essential tip for avoiding distractions while working from home. By investing in comfortable design elements and decorations that make you feel inspired, you will be able to stay focused and remain productive. 

Organization is key. Take the time to evaluate the space you have available and the materials needed to furnish it. Consider if this space will help you stay focused and energized while working. Add decorations that bring joy to the area and make it feel like a place of comfort.  

For example, choose an area close to a window or purchase a cozy chair to add to the space. Invest in a small desk or an ergonomic laptop stand to make it feel like a workspace. Add decorations like plants, artwork, or a cozy rug to make it feel inviting and inspiring.

At the end of the day, creating a dedicated workspace that conforms to how you work best will help you to stay focused and productive. Invest some time into creating a workspace that makes it easier to stay organized and remain motivated while working from home.

Minimize background noise

While it may seem impossible to focus while surrounded by kids, noisy housemates, or the siren call of digital devices, establishing healthy habits and routines can help remote workers stay productive and limit distractions.

The most important step is to create a dedicated workspace away from busy or noisy areas of the house. Investing in noise-canceling headphones can also help to create a more focused environment. Working in comfortable clothes, setting a timely schedule, and taking short breaks to help control stress are some of the other effective ways to limit distractions. 

Aside from physical distractions, managing the temptation to get stuck in a ‘rabbit hole’ of other distractions, such as social media or other websites, can be a great challenge. Establishing strict working hours, a ‘to-do’ list of tasks for the day, and even blocking certain sites for a certain number of hours can help remote workers stay productive and focused. 

By creating comfortable surroundings, setting time limits, and having resources to help filter out the noise, remote workers can stay focused and productive while working from home.

Turn off notifications

When it comes to managing distractions while working, a key tip is to turn off any notifications that could draw your attention away from your task. This means turning off notifications from your phone, email, and other apps and electronic devices. It might take some getting used to, but the benefits of improved focus are worth it.

Creating boundaries and implementing a strict schedule can also help with remote work focus and avoiding distractions. Additionally, using noise-canceling headphones or even earplugs can help you stay focused and in the zone. Finally, time management is essential when it comes to eliminating distractions and actually getting the tasks done. Establishing solutions from the start that work with your lifestyle will help maximize productivity and reduce frustrations caused by distractions. 

Getting started on the path to working distraction-free takes a lot of discipline and commitment. It might take some time to adjust to the new workflow, but the results of improved focus and productivity will be worth it.

The phone is on 'Don't disturb' mode

Take breaks regularly

Taking regular breaks is key to staying productive. Too many hours of work without breaks can lead to burnout and unproductiveness. Here's how to get started with a better break plan:

  • Setting time limits for tasks and taking a few minutes away from work a few times a day for a quick recharge can help keep you energized and focused.
  • Another way to combat distractions is to find the right environment for working. Create an office-like atmosphere—find a quiet, clutter-free space where you can focus.
  • Check noise levels, get some noise-canceling headphones if needed, and try to limit access to other distractions such as your phone, TV, and social media.
  • Additionally, dressing comfortably but in a way that you can mentally associate with work is an effective way to make sure that your brain gets into work mode.

Lastly, remember to set boundaries both with yourself and with your family. When the day is over, it's over. Creating clear boundaries and expectations can help keep you productive and on a schedule throughout the day. 

Use the Pomodoro technique

Working from home can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but as with any challenging task, it does come with its fair share of potential distractions. To avoid being sidetracked and maintain a productive schedule, it’s important to hone your focus and recognize when and how to address issues when they arise. The Pomodoro technique is a popular tool many remote workers use to help them stay on track while they work from home. 

The idea behind this method is simple: you set a timer and dedicate yourself to completing a single task for a predetermined length of time before taking a break. After each session, you can take a few minutes to assess your progress and celebrate your accomplishments. The Pomodoro technique can help you break large, stressful tasks into manageable chunks and give you a sense of accomplishment throughout the day. 

By using the Pomodoro technique and following these tips, you’ll be able to spend more time in control of your work and less time navigating distractions when working from home.

Create a to-do list

Creating a to-do list is a great way to avoid becoming distracted while working remotely. A weekly, detailed plan should comprise key tasks and goals that need to be completed, along with specific action steps and a timeline for each task. It is more effective to break a larger project into several smaller deadlines that can be accomplished in one day. Taking breaks during the day helps the mind focus more and also gives a boost of motivation needed to continue working. 

Additionally, it is important to set realistic expectations of what you can actually accomplish in a day. Don’t feel overwhelmed and discouraged if some tasks take longer than anticipated. Prioritizing tasks is essential in order to get all the important things done in a timely manner and avoid the risk of getting sidetracked. 

Sometimes, it can be helpful to consider setting a timer for how long you are going to work on each task. This promotes productivity and will help you stay motivated. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re slacking off, especially when working remotely. Having the right mix of structure and flexibility can help you stay on top of things and make the most out of your remote work day.

Empty to-do list

Set boundaries with family members and roommates

One of the biggest (and most underestimated) challenges of working from home is staying focused. To prevent distractions, it is important to establish boundaries with family and roommates. It's important to discuss a work schedule for everyone to respect so that productivity is not disrupted. 

Creating a physical and mental workspace is also important. If you don't have a separate room or office, try hanging a wall divider or curtains to break up one room into two to provide yourself with a mental break and a clearer separation between work and home life. Additionally, noise-canceling headphones can be used if others in the space are loud or disruptive during the time you need to concentrate.

Finally, be sure to communicate clearly and respectfully with those who may be around you. If they know you well, you can ask them for more tips. Doing this will ensure that everyone is aware and that your needs for an efficient and productive workspace are being met.

Keep your workspace organized

When it comes to avoiding distractions when working from home, staying organized is key. Create a schedule for yourself: if you dedicate a specific amount of time to cleaning at least once a week, you can decrease the amount of clutter in your workspace. Use this time to store items that you don’t need during the current project and find storage options in other rooms or organize them into boxes or drawers.

For those items that are most essential to your work, make sure they stay within arm’s reach. This prevents frequently reaching for items that would otherwise pull your attention away from your tasks. When you’re ready to start a project, move yourself to a room that won’t be interrupted and try to minimize any distractions.

The right design elements can also have a huge impact on creating a workspace that’s both inspiring and conducive to productivity. Think practical items like lamps and cozy pillows, or add lively plants or accents to make your space more welcoming. Whatever design you choose, it should positively influence your productivity.

Limit internet browsing

As freelancers, we know all too well the allure of getting lost in the depths of the internet, especially when sitting at home with no one to keep us focused. Even if you know that you work better in the morning, the distractions of being at home can become too hard to handle, and suddenly, you’ve been clicking through Pinterest boards for an hour. 

So how do you balance your creative drive with your ability to exert control over the internet? Here are my top tips: 

  • Set rules for yourself about when and for how long you’re going to browse the internet. For example, give yourself a 30-minute break after every two hours of work and stick to that rule.
  • Disable notifications on your phone, computer, and any other device you use. We all know how one little notification can suddenly suck us away from our workspace and whisk us into the world of endless web browsing.
  • Make use of online solutions. There are plenty of online programs, apps, and browser extensions out there that are designed to help you stay focused. Set up certain blocked sites or install a program that limits your internet browsing. 
  • Spend the day away from your computer. Keep consistent breaks in your day to get away from the screen and go for a walk or read a book. This will help keep you focused and in a creative frame of mind. 

It may take some discipline and creative solutions, but by limiting your internet browsing, you can get the most out of your freelance career.

Plan your day the night before

Having a plan for the following day is an important part of staying focused and productive when working from home. Preparation is key! Dedicating the evening to laying out exactly what needs to be done and by when can help tremendously in the morning to stay motivated.

Start by making a list of the tasks that need to be completed the following day. It’s also wise to give each item a deadline (or approximate time frame) which will make it easier to manage your day. Breaking down your list gives you a clear idea of what must be done and by when. 

Additionally, if something unexpected is interrupting you, it’s easy to glance back at the list and decide if it’s worth your time or if you need to stay on task. Having your plan prepared in advance will help you to better prioritize based on what you need to do instead of focusing on the shiny things that can often draw your attention away from the task at hand. 

With a plan in place, you’ll be on your way to creating a work-friendly environment from home and focusing on getting tasks done on time. So, don’t wait until the morning—plan your next day the night before and watch your productivity skyrocket!

Cup of coffee and a planner with the to-do list fot the next day

5 strategies to build your ability to focus when working from home

The tips for eliminating common time wasters are really helpful. But let's take things a step further. Here are five things you can do to actually build your ability to focus for more and more time.

1. Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are excellent strategies for improving focus and concentration, even when working from home. Taking a few moments each day to practice mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing, body scans, or mindfulness apps, can help you stay focused on the task at hand and remain present.

By taking a few moments to pause, you give your brain a moment to reset, enabling you to concentrate better on your work. With this practice, you’ll start to feel more relaxed at work, handling tasks with focus and clarity. 

The many resources available to help you practice mindfulness and meditation are great aids. Look into guided meditations and breathing exercises, as well as apps and websites dedicated to daily mindfulness practice, such as Headspace and Calm.

It can seem daunting to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine, especially if you’re new to it. But once you develop a mindful and meditative practice, you’ll start to reap its countless benefits. Many have experienced improved focus, clarity, and resilience because of this practice. 

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

  • Set an alarm on your smartphone or computer for when it’s time for your mindfulness session. 
  • Work on one task for a set period. For example, seek to remain mindful for 10 consecutive minutes when you’re working on a task. 
  • Take mindful breaks throughout the day. A few moments of stillness and focus can go a long way in improving your productivity. 
  • Incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities, such as eating or even exercising. 

With practice and a mindful attitude, you’ll start to notice the positive effects of being present in your day-to-day activities. You’ll gain focus, clarity, and the ability to stay on task even in a world of distractions. Whether you find yourself working from home or in an office, make sure to pause, breathe and stay mindful of your purpose.

2. Exercise and physical activity

Exercising and being active is a crucial part of staying focused and maintaining good mental and physical health while working from home. People don't want to get to the level of realizing that they can't wear their pants because of a lack of exercise during this period of remote work. To avoid such a situation, simple workouts and activities that can be done right at home can be useful. For example, attempting some yoga poses in the morning before work or even using a mini-trampoline during breaks can help physical fitness levels. 

In addition, some physical activities can also be integrated into one's daily routine. Going on walks and biking to the store can help one stay fit and engaged from the comfort of home. Do not be afraid to be a little goofy and do jumping jacks in the middle of the day, either. These activities can help one stay energized, focused, and active during the remote working season.

Freelancer is doing exercises at home

3. Improve your sleep habits

When it comes to improving focus and productivity, getting quality sleep is essential. Without enough rest, it is almost impossible to remain focused and productive while working from home. To make sure that your sleep habits are healthy, there are several things you can do.

  1. Try to develop a consistent sleep schedule. This means getting up and going to bed at the same time each day. Doing this will help establish a regular sleep-wake cycle that will help you fall asleep and wake up easier, as well as allow your body to naturally recognize when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to wake up.
  2. Create a pre-bedtime routine. Studies have shown that a consistent pre-bedtime routine helps to ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep. This routine can be anything from taking a relaxing bath, listening to calming music, or reading a book. If you can stick with this routine every night, it will become associated with the idea of sleep, making it easier for you to fall asleep when the time comes. 
  3. Monitor your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you up for hours after consumption. Try not to have any caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime, and be sure to control your intake during the day. It is also a good idea to avoid eating right before going to bed as it can be difficult to fall asleep when you are digesting.

Overall, adopting better sleep habits is essential to maximizing focus and productivity while working from home. Consistently following a sleep schedule, creating a pre-bedtime routine, and limiting your caffeine intake can all help to improve your sleep and, in turn, increase your focus.

4. Reduce caffeine and sugar intake

The consumption of caffeine and sugar can tempt individuals who are working from home due to their energy-boosting properties; however, it can work against our productivity in the long run. Becoming aware of the types of foods and beverages you are consuming during work hours is essential for not only improving focus but also overall productivity. Small adjustments such as serving size, frequency, and timing of your caffeine and sugar intake can make a significant impact in your level of focus throughout the day. 

When it comes to caffeine and sugar intake, research has suggested that the short-term energy boost is often followed by a deeper energy downturn. This can lead to a decrease in concentration and focus when working. Those working from home should try to understand when to reject the temptation of consuming caffeine and sugar and when to accept a more mindful approach toward these substances. 

Fortunately, there are numerous strategies to help manage and reduce caffeine and sugar intake. Being mindful of the quantity, timing, and frequency of their consumption can be beneficial in improving our overall focus and productivity. Alternatives such as mindfulness apps and tools, relaxation exercises, and healthy dietary replacements may provide the energy boost required to remain motivated throughout the day.

Cup of coffee

5. Practice deep work and eliminate multitasking

Practicing deep work is a great way to stay focused and avoid distractions when working from home. Deep work is focused, unbroken concentration on one task with minimal interruptions. Doing this can help you to achieve greater focus and clarity and can even help you to become more productive.

Here are a few tips to help you practice deep work: 

  • Turn off social media and other distractions on your computer. This includes notifications from emails, texts, and other applications.  
  • Change your environment by changing your working space or changing up your daily tasks.  
  • Welcome discomfort as a way to improve your concentration. Having a bit of discomfort or anxiety can actually help you focus. 
  • Set aside a specific time each day to devote yourself to deep work and strive to stick with it. 
  • Take breaks in between periods of deep work, such as going for a walk or having a cup of tea, to give your brain some rest and refocus.

It might take some time to develop the skills necessary to practice deep work and focus on tasks while working from home, but it is worth it when you can achieve greater clarity and productivity!


You can minimize distractions at home by creating boundaries with a dedicated workspace, reducing background noise, turning off notifications, and improving your focus through activities like mindfulness exercises, reducing caffeine and sugar intake, and building better sleep habits.

Indy can also help you manage your time and minimize distractions. Here are three ways Indy can assist:

  1. Organize your work with Indy's Projects tool. This will help you avoid wasting time looking for information or being distracted easily because you don't know what to work on next.
  2. Use Indy's Time Tracker to manage your time. Set a time limit for each task to avoid working for too long on one thing. Start a time track when you launch TikTok and make a note of how much time you spend there. If you can think of a time-tracking idea, Indy can help you make it happen.
  3. Build a to-do list with Indy's Tasks tool. This will help you organize your list. The Kanban-style board gives you a quick snapshot of the next task so you can move seamlessly from one piece of work to the next.

If you put these tips and strategies into practice, your productivity is going to increase. But it's not just about filling a workday. If you can get through more work, you can quit for the day early and go do something more enjoyable!

Get started today!

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