Zac Johnson

My desk is a mess right now, so don't worry if yours is too! :)

I like to keep a pen and pad next to my desk and write down what I need to accomplish, then strike through the ones that are accomplished. It's simple, but it's what works best for me.

Using an app or online tool for this just means it's another thing I will forget to check.

I have a TV in my office as well, but I pretty much never turn it on. I also keep YouTube playing in the background with wordless music to keep the productivity flowing.

Don't spend too much time on the computer without getting up as well. I'll either hit the gym or take my dog for a walk to break up the day as well.


It is important to make sure that the place that you are in and trying to do work is a place that you associate with work. In my experience it never worked to turn an existing room into an office, because I would just mostly use it for what it was originally used for. I think I lounged more in the new office than in the lounge room which it once was. Starting fresh is always helpful.

Jack Benoit

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In my experience it's really hard to focus when having to work from home. One thing I'd definitely do is to put a "Do not interrupt" sign on my office's door. If it's not the children, it's the wife, but there's always something or someone requiring your attention at all times at home.


Well, staying organized is not that hard. I have a simple scrum board on which I right things. It looks something like this:

Every month, I start a sprint, and write down the goals/important tasks for the month. And then track it physically on the board. Its actually empowering to do it on a physical board.

Next, I have my tablet on one side of the table. The tablet only works as a clock/calendar/meeting scheduler. So, its sort of my time machine. I couldn't think of anything better to do with the tab, so I did that. It syncs with my google calendar which is what I use for business.

I also use Airdroid so as to answer all phone messages, alerts, etc via my computer. My voip also connects to an onscreen soft phone. This way all of my mails, phone chats, and calls get managed from my laptop. Everything is on this one single screen that I have.

I have a small flatscreen tv as well, which i rarely use. But, its their in case I need more real estate or I need to catch the news real quick.

Those are the things that help me stay focused and organized.


I often find that when I work from home I get the most done. A good practice that has been written about and which I learned in grad school is to work from home, uninterrupted, the first 1-2 hours of every day. Then go into the office and take all your meetings and conduct your follow-up. Now this practice wont work for everyone but at the executive level it is certainly effective.


Nice article, Zac! I find that having a fixed space (with a door!) as well as a somewhat fixed schedule helps me stay productive. I worked at home with my family nearby for many years. Everyone knowing that at certain times of the day I was working and needed quiet and focus was very helpful. It is also good for clients to know what hours you are available too. This avoids misunderstandings when you are not available and keeps clients from calling or stopping by whenever they feel like it. Now if I could ever get my desk as clean as the desks in your pictures!!
Here are my thoughts on staying organized and focused while working from home.

If you are working from home, instead of working on any place you want, try to make a room your office, where you have every thing you want, from a coffee maker to a proper working desk.

Always treat your working from home job like a real job.


A challenging issue when working from a home office is focus, what with the temptation to watch your favourite documentary, take a stroll or to lounge on the coach in the next room. One should have a plan of how to juggle between activities at home that will invariably demand your attention like interacting with family members. You also have to set goals to be achieved before the end of the day.


I think the most important thing is to make a schedule and to follow a routine and stick with it. Without it people tend to stray and get distracted. Although I guess some types of jobs lend themselves well to this but for most or just in general I think it's much easier to just have a routine.
Here are some of my tips:
  • Setup your own office at home. This way, you won't have to work from bed and get distracted. It might be a simple desk and chair but it's already a great way to stay focused.
  • Turn off all distractions like television and music when you're working.
  • Have a set schedule for your work, decide whether it's going to be at night or morning and stick to that schedule.
  • Do not allow visitors during those working hours as well to focus on your work.
Good luck!



If you can afford it, have a separate computer for work and other one for personal use. Don't use the same computer for this separate realms of your life.

If you know what you are doing, go ahead an block any distracting sites from your work computer using your hosts file. I blocked facebook, twitter, youtube, reddit, all those sites so when I am sitting at my work computer I can't do much more than work. This has worked like a charm for me. You'll be surprised how much time you gain when you block just a few sites. If your actual work relates to social media, well, this tip was not very useful, sorry, but I am sure that you could thing of many sites that are a waste of time and not related to your work that you could block.


The first thing is to be motivated from within to work online. When you are motivated to go for online work, nothing will distract you. Next is to be determined to work online, when you are determined, you find out that your focus is on the work and your attention will not be divided.


There are many great tips here. One I could suggest is being honest with yourself. Can you really work at home, or are you more likely to be lazy even with motivation? Some people are not cut out for working at home because they easily get distracted and end up watching tv or sleeping.
If you feel like you could work at home, then prioritize every day. Make sure you do the important stuff first and stick to a schedule. I find that it helps if I get out of my pyjamas before I work because it makes me feel more productive.


Have a desk and a comfortable chair. Shut off any distractions like cellphone, television etc. Resist the temptation to surf the internet. Try to have a fixed routine for work just like you would have at a regular job.


I can see this list growing into something amazing already. We should sticky this someplace because staying focused while working from home is something that everyone wants to do but most people can't.


Like Zac Johnson, I keep a notepad handy, knowing that apps would be forgotten. I keep my radio tuned to public radio. That gives me soothing classical music, morning, noon and evening market reports and BBC World Service news. My desk is a lot less cluttered than it used to be years ago, thanks to cloud storage, email, social media messaging and Google docs. I seldom use sticky notes any more. And yes, it's extremely important to get up from the computer and move about. I hike four miles, clean house and, take yoga and meditation breaks.
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