By Alyssa Gregory

The Ultimate Guide to Killing Work-at-Home Distractions

By Alyssa Gregory

distractionsDistractions 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.

Telephone Calls

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.

Social Networking

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.

Instant Message

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.

Drop-In Visitors

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.

Personal To-Dos

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?

  • I do the early morning routine. 4.30 or 5 am depending on the workload.

  • Jason

    Not so sure about the word ‘Killing’ so closely associated with that cute baby picture.

  • Dan

    I’ve just read a post along a similar sort of vein – You can read it here – some really good advice that not a lot of people share when talking about working at home. Organisation is one of the more boring sides of working online, just as it is in the offline world, but it is mandatory to a successful business. Thanks for sharing.


  • The Pied Pipes

    I don’t want to kill my kid…

  • Mez_G

    what about my ADD? I get distracted at everything.. my guitar in the corner.. an unfinished puzzle.. hungry? let’s get a bite.. txting my GF..oh, let’s check the e-mail again..
    man, it never quits ~!!

  • vgt

    When you have to take care of children it is ok to work from home otherwise it is boring.

  • loganathan

    nice article

  • Fair comment on the thumbnail image folks—the image has been changed!

  • Architela

    Very familiar! If I take time during a weekday for personal things, I make sure it doesn’t inconvenience a client and I make up for it on the weekend.

  • azy777

    Thanks for the post. Emails and IM -> big time distractions for me .

  • Bex White

    I work from home 3 days a week right now. I have found my 3 main distractions are:
    1. Linkedin
    2. Spotify (or anything which lets me make a playlist or be distracted choosing the perfect music to work to)
    3. Google – when looking up an article relevant to a job I am on it is all too easy to become engrossed in industry news, following links to highly interesting but not important to read immediately…
    How have I overcome this?
    I turned off my linkedin email notifications so I only hit the site when I have set aside time to do so.
    I save long playlists of familiar tunes and play them on shuffle or use lastFM and treat it as the radio to avoid getting too engrossed in choosing the music.
    Lastly I bookmark everything I want to read and use some self discipline to leave those articles until I have a moments downtime, for example when uploading files or on hold before a conference call – using them to fill 5 minutes here and there that would otherwise be wasted rather than letting them take up 5 mins where I should be doing something else!

  • I now work from home and find I get more work done at odd hours. The distractions are real, but I treat the day like I was at the office. My wife understands that during the day I’m working, and just because I’m working from home, that doesn’t mean I’m doing laundry or cleaning.

  • Julie

    I agree about getting more work done at odd hours. I have a child, and find that my work-at-home days are most effective if I check and respond to important e-mails throughout the day, and plan to get the bulk of my work done during naptime and after the baby has gone to bed. I’ve also recently hired a babysitter to come at the end of the day for two hours so I know I have that block of time set aside for anything with a 5pm deadline.

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