How to Minimize Distractions While Working From Home

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How to Minimize Distractions While Working From Home

When we first start to work at home, it’s natural to feel elated at the fact that in today’s society that this is actually an option! We jump into our new role both barrels cocked and gunning to go!

For the first month or so, the comforts of being able to work at home in our pajamas, avoiding the rush hour traffic and for the most part being able to set our own hours, seems to be priceless. However, as time passes, the “honeymoon” phase seems to pass, reality sets in and, as the ability to stay focused decreases, we begin to realize that working at home has its drawbacks.

It’s usually around this time that we start finding out how easy it is to get sidetracked by outside distractions, the TV, phone calls, the bottomless pit of the internet, and the actual reality that we are on our own. No one is actually “seeing” our every move as they would in an actual office setting.

Being organized and minimizing common distractions can be the key to working at home successfully. But how do you do that?

Here are some tips for minimizing distractions while working at home

1. Prioritize

Prioritizing is essential since distractions are inevitable and the sooner we learn to say “no” and stick to our goals, the better. No matter what we do in life, we need to prioritize. At home, work or play, prioritizing is the key to success in anything we do.  
Distractions can come in many forms and if we are not prepared to minimize them, the distractions will keep us from being successful in our career.

2. Stick to a schedule

One of the first things that should to be done after our office is set up is to make a daily schedule or routine. Building a routine is the tough part — since a flexible schedule is one of the main attractions of working at home for most of us. Having a schedule need not take away the flexibility; we can always make room for flexibility with a little planning. However, if a structured routine is not followed, before long a person could feel inefficient and out of sorts.

3. Create a To-Do list

Create a To Do list while working from homeThe next thing would be to create a to-do list. This will help stay on top of projects and ahead of deadlines. Make a list of things you need to do — both weekly and monthly — and arrange this list in order of priority.

Even if you’re not a list maker, keeping a list of things to do each day can really help. Even better, make a complete weekly schedule for home and office. Pencil in both work and family obligations for each day, so you have a snapshot of what you’re doing and when.

When it’s time to make a schedule for work, keep in mind to track of all your work obligations, including client work time, marketing, research, product development, shipping or anything else that is considered work or is work related. 

When listing the to-do’s for home, make sure to list everything that needs to be done during that day for the home — cook, clean, pay bills, run errands, schedule appointments, repairs etc., and plan your day accordingly

Minimize distractions while working from homeA schedule will help reduce distractions and confusion over what you need to do, as well as help family and friends know when you’re available and when you’re not.

4. Factor in possible distractions

There are many different types of distractions that can crop up during the day; some are expected others however can be quite the surprise. Breaking down the different types and being prepared can help minimize distractions almost instantly, simply by having a backup plan.

The best way is to lay out the distractions into four categories. 

Distractions from within your home by family/friends

  • Share work schedules to help family realize when you are working.
  • Prepare meals ahead of time — prepare menus for the work week. This includes lunch and break meals. Get up an hour early and take care of small household tasks (like prepping food for dinner).
  • If you think of household things you must do, like making a doctor’s appointment or calling the exterminator, write it down. Make a list of small things to complete only after you’ve finished working.
  • Do laundry once a week, or only after you’re done working for the day.
  • Keep school bag/office bag/footwear ready so that none of your family members have to call you for help while you’re at work.
  • Schedule specific times of the week or day to run errands.
  • Allow yourself one half-hour per day to complete household tasks (if they simply can’t wait until after work).

Distractions from outside the home

  • Keep socializing to a minimum during working hours — set boundaries.
  • Turn off all cell phones – use caller ID where available.
  • Post a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office and front door or a sign stating your working hours.
  • When placing orders to be delivered by mail, leave instructions on where to place packages to make sure you aren’t disturbed while working.

Distractions from within your office

  • Perform routine computer maintenance.
  • Use a separate laptop without internet access for work if possible, to minimize social networking /web surfing.
  • During work hours always set your online status to hide/invisible mode in instant messengers to family and friends.
  • Check emails at set times.
  • Let voicemail take personal calls from your home phone.
  • Have a closed door office policy during working hours.
  • Turn off all electronics. Televisions, MP3 players, chat programs and web browsing can cause less productivity.
  • Keep your office clean and organized – cluttered desk will cause a cluttered mind.
  • Decorate your office. Soft lighting, relaxing atmosphere
  • Keep your office climate controlled for comfort.

Allow a few short breaks and a set lunch time and make sure to use the time for non work related activities.

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