• By Dana Sparks

Connecting Patients: What are your tips for working from home?

March 30, 2020

More and more people are being asked to work from home. For some people, this might be a regular part of your work routine. For others, you might be adjusting to a whole new work setup.

Are you working from home? How's it going? What are your tips to stay focused and not be distracted?

Join the conversation on
Mayo Clinic Connect

Shared from a Mayo Clinic Connect Member:

I have been working from home for almost 30 years and it definitely requires a different sort of discipline than being in the office. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set up a designated work area that is not in the middle of where the family will be hanging out or watching TV. (A lot of people try to use the dining table and find it's a noisy difficult place to work). Make sure you have a desk that's the right level and a comfortable chair so you don't end up with a repetitive stress injury such as carpel tunnel syndrome.
  • Set designated times when you start and end work, just like you did at the office. Schedule breaks and take them at the scheduled time. During your working time, remain focused on your work and ignore or delay any distractions until after your work hours are over. (Unless someone is bleeding, of course.)
  • Train your family that when you're working, they should not disturb you. The standard we use in our house is that if you would not have called me in the office about it, it should wait until after I am done working.
  • Unless being on social media is part of your job, stay off of it during working hours. If you feel like you really must check social media, do it during your breaks and keep track of how long you are on it. A quick 5 minutes to check Facebook can easily turn into an hour of surfing around reading stories online.

Finally, while some people have trouble with distractions when working at home, others have trouble shutting work off and leaving it behind at the end of the day, or with stopping when it's time in order to ensure a work/life balance. That's why the designated start/end times are so important, and also why it's helpful to have your work life in a separate area of the house. In my case, I can literally walk away and shut the door, which is a visual reminder I'm done working and need to let work issues go.

More suggestions from Connect Members:

"I am new to working from home and I made it a point yesterday to [take a walk]. I felt more focus when returning to my work station. It was misty and cold but I feel is good for mind and body. Stay safe!"
- Mayo Clinic Connect member

Stay connected virtually for your health on #MayoClinicConnect

"Keep regular hours. I update computers at 6 am. I have my coffee and toast in my office by 7:30 am. Now is the time to set up a room/closet as an office with a door you can close. Train your family that it's working time only and it had better be an emergency, just like when you are at regular work, for you to be disturbed. Read but don’t answer family texts unless it’s a true problem. Drink tea/coffee like you do at work. Play a low radio in the background with your music. Follow your same working schedule." - Mayo Clinic Connect member


Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding along with guidelines and recommendations may have changed since the original publication date

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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