How To Avoid And Overcome Distractions When You Work From Home
They say it takes 23 minutes to refocus once you are distracted away from your task at hand. If that is the case, it’s no wonder I can’t get anything done. Between the phone calls, text messages, the kids (this should be bolded and underlined two times), my bladder, my growling stomach, household chores, knowing that the next episode of your show is available to view on Netflix, a possible workout and the demands of the cat, it’s hard to accomplish anything with just 24 hours in a day but that’s all you get.
The biggest challenge always comes from not knowing where the next distraction will come from. To help you be more productive at work it’s best to be preemptive and ward off any typical distractions. Here are five of the most common obstacles and how to avoid and overcome distractions when you work from home.
When I first started working from home, I would work sitting at my kitchen table. The problem is that the kitchen is the center of all of the household action, which can lead to constant distraction. Even more than that, sitting at the table in a chair not meant to sit in for 8 hours can prove to be dangerous to your health. It is very important to carve out a space for a proper office chair and desk. If you are challenged for space, consider putting a standing office desk in the corner and pair it with a leaning seat. These are space savers and back savers, too. Wherever you decide, find somewhere in your house that has the least amount of traffic and opportunities for distractions.
I’m a type A personality. Everything has its place and I would be lost without my to-do lists. But even if you aren’t so rigid, having a list of what you need to accomplish each day can keep you focused. The key is to concentrate on just the things that you absolutely need to accomplish by the end of the day. This brings about a sense of urgency, which will dissuade you from getting distracted with other things. I have frequently found that once I get involved in my task, the desire to do any household chores or errands quickly fades.
Stay On Task
With limited hours to complete your work, it’s a veritable race against time so getting rid of tempting distractions is a must. When you need to concentrate on your work, close your email, turn off all phone notifications, and check your messages and social media only at designated times throughout the day. Even if you checked every 30 minutes, you’d still score some solid, uninterrupted work time. Another option is to establish a separate email address only for work and make an effort to read, sort, and respond to correspondence accordingly.
Give Your Eyes A Break
Staring at the computer for hours on end is not good for your body (it’s called sitting disease) and guess what – it’s not good for your eyes either. Reduce eyestrain by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes, stop looking at your screen. Stare at something twenty yards away and hold it for twenty seconds. In addition, you should get up and move around every twenty minutes. Try some nice recharging stretches you can do at your office desk to keep the blood flowing and your mind focused.
Set Expectations With Family
This is the biggest and most important thing you can do to keep from getting distracted and interrupted during your work hours. Discuss with all members of your family how important it is for you to actually be able to work when you’re at home. I let my boys (ages 7 and 12) know that I love having them near me when I work but that I have trouble concentrating when there is a lot of noise in the background. Give your family members a visual clue that lets them know you are working. Close the doors to your office, put on your “working vest or hat”. Then tell them not to interrupt you unless there is a fire or blood. I also tell them that as soon as I’m finished working, we will do something together. They’ve come to learn that the longer it takes me to get my work finished…the longer it will be before we can go have some fun.
It can be tough to work amongst unexpected distractions but all you can do is be prepared for its challenges. With some discipline, you can turn an at-home gig into a viable career – one that offers the best of both the professional and personal world(s).