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Staying focused when you’re working and studying from home isn’t always easy. You may find yourself unsure of the best way to balance everything on your plate. Maybe you’re bored, anxious, or just plain tired. It happens to everyone, especially during a time when there aren’t many options for getting a change of scenery to refresh your brain. Instead of beating yourself up for seemingly spending more time daydreaming than working, try these five tips to stay focused.

Tricks to stay focused while working and studying from home

While being able to work and study from home comes with a ton of benefits, there are some distinct challenges, too. Home offers comfort and snacks, but also distractions like chores, family, pets, television, and the easy possibility of taking a lunch time nap. These distractions can be hard to resist, but some habits can help you strengthen your ability to focus on the tasks at hand.

  1. Have a dedicated work/study space. This is advice you hear all the time. The reason it’s so often repeated is that it actually works. Having a certain space in your house dedicated to your job and your studying is essential to shifting your brain from relaxation mode to work mode. If you have the room, turning a space into an office can be your best bet, but not everyone has that option. Instead of a home office, try studying and working in the same space everyday. Whether you’re working from the kitchen table or your bedroom, making it a habit to use that specific room can still get you into work and study mode.

  2. Stick to a schedule. When you’re working and studying at home, your to-do lists and schedule can start to blend together. You might start getting in a little studying during work hours or vice versa. This habit can work well for a short time, but it can lead to more distractions. During work hours, you’re thinking about the school project you need to finish. When you’re studying, you’re more focused on what you have to get done for work. Making a clear schedule and sticking to it can help you stay focused on the job at hand. If you work 9 to 5, for example, focus solely on your tasks for the day. After 5, you can hit the books.

  3. Avoid multitasking during the workday or your study time. Since you’re at home, it’s tempting to make the most of the time you have. Throwing in a load of laundry on a work break or cleaning the kitchen in between textbook chapters feels like you’re efficiently multitasking, but it can provide more distractions. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Your chores will be waiting for you when you’re done, so concentrate on your job or your studies as much as possible.

  4. Turn off distractions. Checking your social media pages, watching a favorite movie in the background, or constantly checking your phone for text messages can make it hard to focus on what you need to get done. Whenever possible, avoid these distractions while you’re working. Put your phone in a drawer or turn it to silent mode so you don’t notice notifications. Scroll through Facebook only on scheduled breaks. It can be tough at first, but once you’re in the habit of pushing away distractions, you’ll find yourself getting a lot more done!

  5. Remember that you don’t have to be perfectly focused all the time. When you’re working at home, or studying, it can feel like you have to always be laser focused. Afterall, you’re able to do your job and study from home—you should be much more productive than normal, right? But thinking that you have to be perfect and productive 100% of the time can be its own kind of distraction that can lead to some anxiety. It’s important to remember you’re human and you need breaks. You’re not always going to perfectly focus and that’s okay! Taking a day off to refresh isn’t being lazy—it’s focusing on your mental and physical well-being. Don’t be ashamed to say you need time away! After a day off, you’ll come back even more productive than before.

Connect with other students for study tips on the Student Community.

Penn Foster students are experts on balancing work, studies, and family time. If you’re struggling to focus on your tasks, aren’t sure what the best study method is, or just want to connect with others who are going through the same thing, the Penn Foster Student Community is your best resource. You can connect with students and alumni, get tips and tricks for work/life balance, and more.