Distractions are one of the most common problems for people who work from home. At home, there’s typically much more stimuli that battles with a work environment, and it can be difficult to break away from all of the non-work “stuff” that fills our lives.
Some people are more easily distracted than others, and there are certain times when even the most focused among us succumb to the distractions. When you are faced with a task or project you really don’t want to do, for example, the distractions may be more difficult to ignore and can lead to procrastination.
The good news is that distractions are conquerable, at least most of the time. You just need to be able to identify the distractions in your day and have a plan for beating them.
I’ve taken some of the most common work-at-home distractions (including some that can affect professionals working from anywhere) and suggested a solution for each. So, let’s start killing distractions!
Email can be a major distraction, especially if you get pinged every time you receive a message. Try ditching new message notifications, using rules to sort your mail as it arrives, and scheduling time for reading email during the day.
Both unexpected business and personal calls can pull you off task. When it comes to work, consider scheduling all calls in advance to avoid the disruption. And ignore personal calls that come in while you’re working. You can always get in touch again when the timing works for your schedule.
Sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can introduce a whole host of distractions to your day. Like with email, stopping instant notifications and scheduling time to check in can help you handle social media distractions.
While instant messaging can be a great way to communicate with clients, it can also be a daily distraction. By treating IM as a scheduled communication tool instead of an always-on-run-in-the-background app, you can limit your accessibility and cut down on the distractions.
If you work from home and have kids, you probably have a very in-depth understanding of distractions. To make your work time more productive, consider finding childcare, even part-time, for your kids. Depending on the type of work you do, you can also try to work during early morning or late night hours when your kids will (hopefully) be asleep.
Unless the background noise helps you overcome the stifling quiet of working alone, turn off the TV.
If you have family or friends living close by, it can very tempting for them to just drop by or frequently want to meet up for lunch, shopping, etc. While this can be a great way to use your work breaks, if it happens too often it can become a major distraction. The key is to set boundaries, let your friends and family know when you’re available and when you’re not, and then stick to it.
When you work from home and make your own schedule, you’re in the perfect position to take care of all of those necessary personal tasks. You can run errands, tackle laundry, take your dog to the vet, clean the house, get your car serviced and do everything else that typically has to wait until the weekend. But if you allow too many of these personal to-dos to enter your daily schedule, you will soon lose your ability to focus on work. Be realistic about what you can accomplish around your work schedule. After all, you always have Saturday to catch up on your errand running.
What distractions and solutions would you add to this list?