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5 Ways to Stay Focussed When Working Online

I quite often get told by well meaning friends that is must be lovely to have the ability to work from anywhere and how it must be more productive, a more focussed way to work. Whilst I wouldn’t swap doing what I do for all the tea in china it is, if you let it, very easy to get side tracked, more so I feel when you are working online that if you were a cubicle dweller. The internet is all powerful, bright and shiny, it has so many things to research, discover and learn as well as videos, music, tweets and facebook updates to name just a few.

So today I thought I would share with you some top tips on how to ditch the distractions and reclaim your time. This first part may look to be productivity driven, but stick with me, you’ll see how it all comes together ;-)


Write your “to do” list and pick the three MOST important things you MUST get done that day.


I find it easier to set my time into three different groups as follows –

Work time – normal general projects where I’m also available to be contacted via e mail, instant messenger, skype, work related social media etc. This is a time for me to get main communications completed before starting on my main projects.

Focus time – during this time I will close all internet browsing windows, set my skype and IM to busy and get down to business. I use time boxing software to dedicate a set amount of time to a task and concentrate purely on that task until it is completed.

Break time – some disagree with this, but I’ve found that especially when working online it is too easy to just keep going. Breaks, just small ones, are important. You can use this time to read blogs of interest, catch up on the news, simply take a load off and re-energise before diving back in. It has to be said that I have also found when working on complex problems that a break actually helps you to gain a better perspective and sometimes the solution hits you right between the eyes.

Online notifications

Following on from our use of time. Daily we are bombarded with notifications from e mail, IM, RSS feeds, social media management tools and they are great at keeping you up to date – but their timing stinks when you are trying to focus !

If you have to keep notifications try minimising their disruption to an audible sound instead of having windows opens and seeing the notification too. I know it sounds weird but it has been proven that its more distracting seeing and hearing as opposed to just hearing. You can of course also turn off the audio ;-) .

Task Batching

A number of tasks that we complete daily are quite similar in nature and can be grouped together and completed in one hit at a regular time each day. For example, e mails; check these twice or three times at a push daily and if it is something that can be dealt with in a couple of minutes then do it, if not schedule in a time to respond in a more in depth manner. Responding to twitter and facebook DMs, mentions, RSS readers these can all be dealt with in batches. So long as the tasks are completed on a regular basis the world will not stop turning because you did not respond to your DM’s within the hour – trust me.

Set Your Rules

Think about how you wish to use your time and what you want to accomplish and set yourself rules but more importantly make sure you stick to them !!

Working from home or being location independent is for me an absolute dream -but if I didn’t have rules in place I can guarantee little would actually be achieved and personally I would hate that another day had passed me by without achieving the most I could out of my time. By setting rules around your working hours and having clear boundaries then friends, colleagues and even your children will come to appreciate and respect your time as being valuable and you can maintain a healthy, productive working environment. These tips were just a few off the top of my head today and I would love to hear from other online entrepreneurs …

What’s your top tip for ditching online distractions?

  • http://virtualassistant-live.com/ Michelle, Virtual Miss Friday

    Great post Tracy, given me an idea for a blog post for VA Live – thank you!!

  • http://coffeenotinc.co.uk Tracy Baker

    Hi Michelle, thanks for droppin by ;-)

    Awesome! Win-win … love it lol