Thursday, January 29, 2015

Work at Home Tip: Minimize Distractions

I've been working from home since 1989, and I can tell you that one of the biggest hindrances to productivity is distractions. Whether it be in the form of friends and family stopping by or calling, chaotic thoughts directed towards the household duties that need to be carried out, or a temptation to surf the Web, watch TV, or play a video game while you should be working, these will all make it difficult for you to meet goals and carry out your work in a timely manner if you're not careful.

Here are a few tips to help in this area:

Set boundaries with family and friends

People who don't work from home just don't fully understand the dynamics of what your workday entails. They think that you can do what you want when you want. It's not their fault; they only know what they know. It's up to you to establish boundaries, and enforce them, about when they can call, drop by, or ask you to run errands for them.

Turn off the ringer on the house phone

It's just easier this way. Maintain separate phone lines for your business and personal lives. Turn off the ringer of your personal phone during the hours that you've established as work hours for yourself. You can check your messages periodically, i.e., on breaks and during your lunch hour, to ensure that no major emergencies occurred while you were in work mode.

If you have children, instruct the caretaking adults in their lives to text or call you on your business phone in the event of an emergency.

Don't keep a TV in your home office

Soap operas, talk shows, and reality shows are the banes of productivity. They're such time sinks that you can think that you'll turn on a show for just a few minutes or so and before you know it those few minutes have turned into hours. In the refrain of a popular campaign that was ongoing a few years ago: just say no.

Stay away from social media

Even worse than TV, social media can totally wreck your work day if not properly restricted. Catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, whatever, if they are not platforms directly tied to your work, can result in a whole day wasted sharing, posting, and pinning. Set aside 30 minutes before work and 30 minutes after to devote to these activities, and whatever can't be done during that time just isn't important.

Either don't do housework during working hours or only do it in pre-established intervals of time

This is one that seems to be a primary temptation for my fellow lady workers out there. Even if you have your own office in your home, there's just something about being at home that screams that the laundry needs to be done, meals need to be prepared, trash needs to be taken out, and floors need to be swept and mopped. Either make up your mind that you won't do household chores during your normal work hours, delegate the work to other family members (or even hire a professional), or only do a little bit of each task while on break - maybe for 15 or 20 minutes or so.

By minimizing distractions during your work-at-home day(s) you can stay focused and productive, and as you already know, focus and productivity equate to $$$.

Sources: Get More Done: 18 tips for Telecommuters 10 Tips for Working from Home
Personal experience

*Photo: Paulo Ordoveza via
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices (no longer published there).]