There are times when I just can’t seem to focus on work. It’s too easy to get distracted and pretty soon nothing is getting accomplished. Working from home doesn’t really help the situation, since the line between work and other things can be blurred very easily.
While I normally manage pretty well working from home, there are times that I need to make a real effort to limit distractions so that I can meet deadlines and stay on top of what needs to be done. Here are some ideas for limiting distractions when you work from home:
Create a Work-Only Space
When I’m at my desk in my home office, everyone in the house knows that I’m Doing Serious Work. My desk is a work-only space, and everyone knows that it’s not a good idea to bother me while I’m here. If you have the room, create a work-only space. It will help you get in the mindset to work, and cue you that distractions aren’t allowed. It can also cue those around you that you don’t want to be disturbed. My family is much less likely to distract me when I’m working on my desktop computer than when I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop. The physical separation makes a big difference.
Create Specific Times to Check Social Media
One of the hardest things about working from home is that it’s so easy to just check your Facebook account, or see what’s trending on Twitter. Unfortunately, this type of task switching can get you out of work mode, and it can be difficult to return to work mode when you need to.
Turn off the email notifier as well. The last thing you need when you are concentrating on getting your work done is a little noise every time something lands in your email inbox. Schedule specific times of the day to check and answer email, and to check social media accounts.
I like to use the Pomodoro technique with my work. With this technique, you spend 20 to 25 minutes working on something, and then take a three to five minute break. I like to write a blog post, then take a break. This break can include a quick check of Facebook, or a scan of the email inbox to make sure I’m not missing anything urgent. Using a timer to ensure that I don’t go over my five minute break can help keep me focused on getting back to work.
Choose Your Work Times Wisely
One of the best ways to limit distractions is to choose your work times when there are fewer distractions to begin with. I do much better in the mornings, and there are fewer distractions then anyway. My husband usually sleeps later than I do, and once I get my son off to school, I have plenty of distraction-free time. During the summer, there is a little more to contend with. However, my husband still sleeps later. My son is home, but he’s usually better at amusing himself in the morning. He gets himself breakfast, reads the newspaper, and practices the piano. Then he can work on his model rockets or build with his Legos. It’s in the afternoon that he starts getting restless and “bored.” If I can work in the morning, and get through what I’m doing before that happens, things are pretty good.
Look at the rhythms of your family, and figure out the best times to work with few distractions. In some cases, you might need to hire someone to watch your kids for part of the day, or work at night, nap time, or early in the morning when everyone is still asleep.
Finally, prioritize your work. Figure out which tasks are urgent, and focus on those first. When you know you have something urgent to take care of, it’s much easier to avoid getting distracted by other matters. Make it a point to prioritize your workload each day so that you can ensure that the most important items are taken care of first. You’ll be happier, and it will result in better results with your work from home efforts.
How do you limit distractions when you work from home?