How to mentally focus when working from home

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Joe Houghton’s top tips for keeping the focus on top of things mentally as we all adjust to working at home

It’s ok not to be ok all the time!

  • Try to start and end your day with “you time”
    • Get up and do some exercise, meditate, take a walk, have a long hot bath with candles…
    • If you can do this at lunch too, great!
    • Negotiate some you time with your partner, family, housemates
  • But I live on my own…
    • Use video as much as possible to see other people when calling them – Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom – there are lots of free ways to video-call
    • This takes effort initially but will really help you feel less isolated Introduce some noise – open a window, have the radio on playing music
    • Make calls every day to contacts, colleagues or friends and family
  • Don’t be a news junkie
    • I limit my exposure to news to 30 minutes reading the news as I have breakfast.
    • No TV news – it’s all sensationalist & designed to focus on the awful news
    • Same with the radio – tune in to happy music, not news!
    • And turn off all “news” notifications on your devices
  • Go easy on the alcohol
    • Whatever your stimulants, take it easy – save these for a treat rather than them becoming a habit…
  • Work
    • We’re all at home, but if you have a job, do it. Work provides us with purpose, a routine, and this is important for our mental well-being if we can engage and focus
    • But recognise that we are all going through a form of grief – loss of our “normality” at present, so don’t expect to be fully productive
    • And support your bosses, colleagues & friends who are also going through all the same feelings you are – we’re all people!
  • Work Out of a job? Facing hard times?
    • That shock is always tough, but you HAVE to start to look at options
    • What opportunities do you now have that you might pursue?
    • How might you reach out to your network for help?
    • Is there something you’ve always wanted to try or do – maybe now is that time…


Joe Houghton is an Assistant Professor & Programme Director teaching Project Management at the UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business in Dublin, Ireland.
He also consults, coaches and trains companies and non-profits, as well as delivering photography tuition and talks all over the world. Connect on LinkedIn

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