By Roxanne Abercrombie
With no excessively chatty colleagues, no meaningless meetings and no incessant ringing of telephones, home working is often envisioned as distraction-free bliss. Anybody who actually works from home knows that this is far from the truth.
In fact, home working is a minefield of tempting distractions, from the proximity of the fridge to the lure of the TV. Finding the discipline to focus when you’re still in slippers sat within walking distance of your bed isn’t the easiest of tasks, and only those with iron wills are immune to the coaxing call of home comforts.
So, how can you can defeat the distractions of home working? Here’s 5 tactics you can take on board today.
1. Tune out and tune in
It’s easy to convince yourself that you can still complete work with TV in the background. After all, multitasking isn’t so hard, is it? Sooner or later though, your ears will inevitably prick up when you hear something of interest. You have a lapse to listen, and before you know it you’ve somehow watched an hour of daytime TV and your computer has long since fallen into hibernation mode.
The same principle applies to listening to your favourite music. What harm can that do? Well, the dual factors of being in the privacy of your own home and being entertained by your best-loved songs can quickly lead to a stream of solo karaoke performances. Without even consciously realising, it’s all too easy to find yourself impersonating your favourite artist with accompanying dance moves.
To tune into your work, tune out of these distractions. Turn the TV off, and if you do listen to music, try music without words. Then, you won’t be thinking about skipping to the next song or flicking the channel: you’ll be thinking more about the work in front of you.
2. Get dressed
Seriously, get dressed. One of the benefits of home working might be the freedom to stay in your pyjamas, but doing so won’t put you in the most productive of moods. It’s hard to feel business-like and ready for some serious work when you’re in clothes which you’d ordinarily only wear to sleep or lounge around in.
Now, that’s not to say that you have to sit at home wearing full business attire every day. You don’t need to be kitted out in a shirt and tie or a power dress and heels combination to be productive, but you do need to be dressed.
3. Have your own private work space
Realistically speaking, you’re not going to get a great deal of work done if you set up base on the couch. Nor will you be a paradigm of productivity lying on your bed balancing a laptop on your knees. If you’re going to work from home, you need a dedicated home work space.
So, get yourself a desk in a private nook of your house and work only from there. Doing so will put your brain into ‘work’ mode whenever you sit in your earmarked zone, and will feel more like actually being at work rather than being at home.
It’s best to choose a spot that’s light and airy, without being sat directly in front of a window. That way, you’ll have conditions which are conducive to concentration and won’t be distracted by your neighbour watering their plants or the lady across the road walking her dog.
4. Stay away from the kitchen
If you want to work at your full capacity whilst at home, you need to eat at set regular intervals. With your snack cupboard so accessible, the temptation to distract yourself with food can be strong. The fact that you can hastily pour yourself a cup of coffee without making a drinks round for a full team is also rather appealing.
If you’re not strict with your eating times, you can all too easily find yourself using the kitchen as a crutch. Struggling to put a report together? Surely a quick sandwich will give you time to mull it over. Spreadsheet giving you a headache? A cup of tea and biscuits will help.
Before you know it, you can find yourself returning to that close kitchen more and more, meaning that your work will suffer. To avoid delicious diversions, be strict with those break times.
5. Make a day plan
Working from home requires a great deal of laying down the law. You need focus, you need firmness, and you need a fixed idea of what you want to achieve over the course of the day. To do this, you need a clear day plan.
By writing a structured ‘to-do’ list at the start of each morning, you’ll give yourself a tool which will help channel your concentration. A bullet-pointed list will keep your objectives ordered and visible, helping you stay on track and avoid procrastination. It’s also a great way to self-monitor your performance and achievements.
Your own home is a hotbed of potential distractions. Learning how to defeat these distractions will drive your productivity, ease you into a flow of steady work and ultimately maximise your success. Good luck!
Author bio: Roxanne Abercrombie is a professional copywriter and serial blogger. You can find her working as PR, Content and Social Executive at Uniting Ambition, a leading recruitment firm specialising in delivering top talent to the market’s hottest professional services, digital marketing and IT contract jobs.