As you start on your work-at-home career, you may be relieved to know that you won’t have to deal with the office gossip, a noisy co-worker, or the daily commute. However, soon you’ll realize that just because you have left the office, you still haven’t avoided work distractions. These experts havedealt with these obstacles and overcome them. Here are their tips and tricks on how to avoid distractions.
The first distraction – everything. Your dishes, laundry, animals, kids crying, TV, personal phone calls – all this has to be *gone* from your mind to work from home successfully. I made the choice that where ever I was sitting in my home was essentially my cubicle. The only thing that mattered was the screen in front of me. I taught my kids, my friends, my family, and the animals that I am WORKING, period.
I don’t get up to clean anything until 5pm. People can’t come over to hang out until 6pm. I have always taken the time to get my kids from school, but that time period is no different than a work break. I come back and get to work. Granted, there are more distractions (noise), but the work has to be done. You have to force yourself to avoid the distractions that family brings and continue to produce. There is always time to clean later; focus on making money during work hours.
The second distraction – mechanical failure. You don’t have it when you have the best equipment. I can’t afford to not have a working computer, printer, and wifi. I bought an SUV with wifi so if the home wifi goes out I can still work, quickly. Does this cost? Yes, but it makes me reliable for those that pay for my services. As a bonus, these costs are a deduction. Take care of yourself
Not everyone can afford to buy the best right off the bat, but make it a goal. It seriously hurt me to buy my first Mac, because I am a money hoarder, but the time saved (and the irritation lost) the first week made it so worth it.
The third distraction – hunger and thirst. I get lost in my work at times and suddenly my blood sugar is dropping, I can’t focus, and I realize I haven’t eaten at all or for 6-7 hours. It takes me awhile to recover from low blood sugar, so I learned to stock my home with healthy foods I can quickly grab and/or heat up. When you get sluggish at home, there are
plenty of places to relax in; it is hard to get refocused.
People that work at home tend to overwork. If you worked at a regular job you would eat before you went, have a lunch break, and get off at 5-6pm to go home and have dinner. You HAVE to work meals into your schedule just like anyone working in an office would.
Tips for avoiding/overcoming distractions when working from home
1) Set a schedule a follow it; use Google Calendar and set up alerts to help!
2) De-clutter your work environment; clutter leads to distraction and detract from the type of work where you need to think a lot.
3) Use caffeine wisely; too much caffeine could lead to issues like stomach ulcers and anxiety. Know your limits.. have caffeine work in your favor not against!
Here are my biggest distractions and how to avoid or overcome them!
Facebook is a huge time suck, especially since I have to get on there from time-to-time to do my work as a virtual assistant. So, I set a timer to help me stay focused whenever I do have to go on Facebook. If you can avoid
Facebook entirely, try using a tool like StayFocud to block websites that distract you.
Is it just me, or does housework distract other people who work from home too? I do legitimately work better and say focused when there’s less messiness, so maybe that’s why I have a hard time when my house is a little messy. To avoid this distraction, I set up a dedicated home office. When it’s work time, I go in there and shut the door. Shutting the door is key to avoiding this distraction. Out of sight, out of mind!
3) Family Members
Unfortunately, another big distraction that I sometimes come across is my family. Working at home means whenever they are home, they are making noise, talking, etc. This can be very distracting. To help with this one, I wear headphones when they are around to help block out the noise. I also try to remind them that when I’m in my office with the door shut, I’m not playing, I’m working!
Working Late. Tip 1: It is of paramount importance to get enough sleep. Since you plan on working from home, if you are tired throughout the day you will be tempted to walk away from the desk. Rest well.
Sitting too often. Tip 2: Move around! Without the need to go to and from the gym, find ways to be active around the house. Run the neighborhood. Walk stairs. Use a stand-up desk. Any way one can increase physical engagement while working at home, the better. Make up for the time not leaving the house. It also helps with mental focus.
Disorganization. Tip 3: Make a to-do list. When working from home, it is even more important to keep a solid schedule. Prioritize your days. Anticipate hours. Be structured.
Distraction #1 – social media – I stay in touch with my personal and professional network through online social media. Often times, what friends and colleagues are posting is extremely interesting, especially for someone (like me!) with love of learning and curiosity as top strengths!
Solution – close those tabs in my browser (if they’re not open, they are less of a distraction) and schedule social media time.
Distraction #2 – housework – I really do work from home, and not from a shared co-working or hot desk environment. So there are always tasks to be done – dishes, laundry, cleaning, food prep and so on.
Solution – these are great break activities. The human brain can only focus on a task for a limited amount of time and so when I’m getting brain-fuzz, and I can’t go for a bigger exercise break or I don’t have the time to get out of the house, doing a few dishes and moving the laundry along gives me a break that helps my brain refresh and renew.
Distraction #3 – HARO – because I love helping reporters with their stories.
Solution – oh what the heck, I’ll just write a few words now…. 🙂
1) I turn off my phone’s ringer and leave it in another room before I go to bed so it’s not there to tempt me with distractions when I wake up. That allows me to focus the first part of my day on the tasks that I know are the most important to my business, before allowing myself to view email, voice mails, or social media to help others with what THEY would like me to be doing.
2) I block the first 4 hours of my day to work on whatever is most important. And I make sure that, the night before, I’ve very clearly defined the next steps I need to take to handle it. That way, I can jump right into the work, rather than risking getting distracted and wandering off on a tangent in the name of researching, learning, or figuring out
what I should do next.
During those 4 hours, I employ a strict no email, phone or social media rule. My phone remains in another room with it’s ringer off and if possible I’ll even turn off my Internet connection on my computer. If there’s something I want to send someone or post, I write it in Evernote so that I can write it out now, and then can copy/paste it into an email or post
later. This might sound extreme, but it’s too easy to go into email just to send a quick email and get distracted by what’s in my inbox (or to get distracted after sending it by constantly going back to check if anyone has replied yet).
3) If I absolutely must check email, voicemail, or social media in the middle of a period I’ve blocked out for undistracted/focused work, I set an alarm for myself (e.g., for 5 or 10 minutes) to alert me if I accidentally
wonder off track while sending a quick email or making a quick phone call.
1)First, if there is a cleaning project or tv show from the previous day that I am really wanting to take care of, I do it first thing before I start my work so I don’t constantly wonder about them. I find it easier to focus on present work when other tasks I see at home at are done. But I also don’t start anything that will last longer than 30 minutes. Bigger things I will have to wait until after my work is done. Then I sequester myself into my office space and close the door to not be reminded of home tasks until after work.
2) There are certain songs or podcasts I listen to that tune my brain into work mode. There may be a transition time but turning these audio tools on lets my brain shift subconsciously. Or even a white noise machine that drown out little sounds that may be annoying. Also, allow for transition times. Your body will need stronger markers between tasks in a home environment.
3) Most important, turn off or log out of all social media. This can be a huge time waster. Can you move your phone into another room so you can check at lunch time? There are a few Chrome plugins you can use to block Facebook and Twitter feeds if you find yourself typing them in. You can even sip some water each time you want to check to keep more hydrated, or the bathroom breaks may cause you to want to check less.
Note From Leslie:
The best way for me to avoid distraction is through a plan and a routine. If I know I’ll get to something distracting (like the laundry) later, it doesn’t invade my work time.
Of course, there are still interruptions to manage. I’ll check my caller ID if the phone rings, but will ignore the call if it’s not important. When my kids were little, I set rules such as “no interrupting unless there’s blood or fire.” I offset that by spending quality time with them during a break or when my work was done.
Finally, avoid email and social media when you’re working. Like other tasks, schedule time for checking email and doing social media and stick to it. It might mean turning off your notifications, so you’re not distracted by them.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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