I’m sure you can think of the many benefits of working from home: setting your own hours, no office commute, saving money on childcare, wearing sweatpants all day if you want to—the list goes on and on.
But when it comes down to getting actual work done, do you find yourself distracted at home? After all, there are chores to do. It’s really nice outside and the pool is calling your name. You want to know if there’s anything good on daytime TV. You’re thinking maybe you could use a three-hour nap. And then there’s Facebook. It sucks you right in!
If you find yourself distracted and not able to focus on the actual work in your “work at home” scenario, here are some tips on how to actually get things done:
#1: Avoid distractions
Only have in front of you anything that relates to exactly what you’re working on at that moment. This includes anything on your computer as well as pieces of paper, notebooks or other things that might be in your work space.
Close all apps and programs not in use for the task at hand on your computer.
Turn your phone off. If you have a little one at school or need your phone to be on for emergency reasons, at least turn off all notifications and put the phone somewhere that you can’t see the screen.
#2: Set boundaries
Make sure family, friends and neighbors know not to disturb you when you’re working. If you have an office, shut the door. If you have children, tell them exactly what time you’ll be finished with work, and that they will get your undivided attention at that time.
We also have a “no soliciting” sign in our front yard that prevents those random afternoon interruptions from sales people.
Here’s another little trick for you if you’re having problems establishing boundaries with people “dropping by” unexpectedly. This one works if you have small children at home with you during the day while you’re working. When my son was small and would take naps, I used to put a sign on our front door telling people that there was a child sleeping—and not to knock on the door or ring the bell unless it was an emergency. I quickly realized this sign also came in handy if I left it up during my work hours so that I wouldn’t be interrupted by anyone at the door!
#3: Stay focused
Set a timer for how long you want to work on a given task. Focus only on that task until the timer goes off.
Give yourself small breaks to get more water, a snack or to stretch for a bit.
Know your ideal times of day when you are most productive at certain activities. If you can’t work at your most ideal times, then make sure you have a list of exactly what you need to do and time blocks marked out in your schedule to complete things.
Create a list or schedule the day before for the next day’s tasks. When you’re ready to get started the next day, you can just refer to that list.
Alicia Jay is a virtual assistant mentor who shares tips, inspiration and resources, encouraging women to follow their dreams of having a business that works around their lives—not the other way around. You can find more from her at newVAadvice.com.
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