How to Reduce Distractions When You Work from Home

One of the things I love about what I do is the fact that I get to work from home. I enjoy sitting at my home office, setting my own hours, and being home for my son if needed. It’s a great setup. Unfortunately, working from home also comes with distractions. The kitchen is a few steps away, and if I’m working while my family is home, it’s a little harder to get things done.

I’ve learned a few things in the last 10 years of working from home, however. Here’s how I reduce distractions while I work from home:

Create a Dedicated Work Space

It’s much easier to get distracted when you are sitting on the couch, or at the kitchen table. Create a dedicated work space that creates a feeling of separation from the rest of the house. My work space is my desk. It’s set up so that I face a window in our spare room. This means my back is to the room door. We have other items in the room, including an electric piano and storage. But my work space gives me a feeling that now it’s time to get down to business, and it helps me focus my attention on the task at hand.

You can also create your own space by taking over a corner of a room in your home and adding a few work trappings to make it clear that you have a space meant to remind you of what you should be doing. You can even purchase decorative screens if you need to block off an area.

Set Up Away from Distractions

My work space is set up away from distractions in the house. It’s not very convenient to the kitchen, and it’s not near the TV. If someone is watching TV, I can shut the door. Being away from distractions is a good way to minimize their effects. I like to set boundaries as well. My son and husband know that when I shut the door I’m doing something that can’t be interrupted. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, my family respects my boundaries.

Try to Work During a Time with Fewer Distractions

Another important trick is to attempt to work during a time when there aren’t as many distractions. I like to work while my son is at school and my husband is at work. Sometimes I work on Saturday morning while my husband sleeps in and my son watches TV. Even if I don’t feel like working during these times, I force myself to do so, since I know I won’t get anything done later when my husband and son are more interested in engaging my attention.

Sometimes, you have to remove the distractions from your environment. When my son was younger, and not in school for six hours a day, I took him to day care for a couple hours a day. It seems counterintuitive to take your child to daycare or preschool when you work from home, but it was good for both of us. I got work done, and he was able to play with children his age.

Monitor your work time, and pay attention to when you are most productive and least distracted. I try to accomplish the bulk of my work between 9 am and noon because that’s when I’m most alert and my mind is least likely to wander. It’s best to work when your mind is better at resisting distractions.

Consider Going Somewhere Else

Sometimes you just need a change of scene. If I find myself stuck in a rut, I’ll pack up my laptop and head to the local coffee shop. Often, the change of scene helps me get back into work mode, and I’m not longer distracted. There are also coworking spaces you can try. Many of them offer rooms and environments designed to reduce distractions. If you can’t seem to focus while at home, get out for a little bit.

Take a Break and Refocus Your Mind

There are times that you might just need a break so you can refocus your mind. If my mind starts wandering and I can’t beat the distractions, I take a break. I meditate for 15 minutes, do some yoga, or fix myself a healthy snack. Just taking a short break to do something that can help me refocus my mind increase my ability to ignore distractions and get back to work.

 

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5 Cheaper Ways to Go to College

Despite rising tuition costs, an overwhelming percentage of college graduates in the U.S. – 83 percent – say that their college education was a good personal investment. On average, college graduates make more money than people who have only a high school education. People with bachelor’s degrees have median earnings of $45,500 while people with only high school diplomas have median earnings of just $28,000 per year. According to some estimates, over a lifetime, college actually costs a negative $500,000. In other words, not going to college means a financial loss of half a million dollars.

Despite its obvious long-term benefits, a college education is a big upfront investment. Many students and their parents worry about racking up large student debts. Fortunately, you can cut your college costs so that you leave with less loan debt. Here are five strategies for making college more affordable.

1. Choose a Public Service Career

Some schools offer reduced tuition for degrees related to public service. Getting a degree in criminal justice or public safety administration, for example, could cost significantly less than another major. Also, students who go on to careers in public service may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. To be eligible, you would have to meet the following requirements:

    1. Have a Federal Direct Loan. PSLF forgives direct loans, not Perkins Loans or Federal Family Education Loans. Your Direct Loan can be either subsidized or unsubsidized.
    2. You must make 120 full, on-time, scheduled monthly loan payments. Your record of good faith payments has to start on October 1, 2007, or later. To maximize your benefit, enroll in an income-based repayment program as soon as your payoff period begins.

 

  • You must have a full-time job in a public service organization. You can work for a federal, state, or local government agency, or you can work for a tax-exempt 501©(3) not-for-profit organization. You’ll need to work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for loan forgiveness.

 

2. Take Accelerated Classes

Many schools offer accelerated classes, which means that classes last six to eight weeks instead of a full semester. Taking accelerated classes gives you two big advantages: You’ll graduate earlier, and you’ll likely pay lower tuition.

Accelerated classes can be intense, so you need to make sure that you have good study habits and a solid academic foundation before signing up. Also, if your accelerated classes have an online component, make sure that you have the computer equipment and the self-discipline to be an online student.

3. Start at Community College

Community college courses typically cost a lot less than courses at a four-year institution. Many community colleges also have transfer arrangements with four-year schools in the same state. As long as you have a good GPA in the right community college classes, you can transfer your credits to a four-year school and start as a junior in a bachelor’s degree program.

4. Try Tuition-Free or Locked-In Tuition Programs

Certain colleges waive tuition in exchange for students who work 10 to 15 hours per week. These tuition-free programs usually place students in on-campus jobs related to their majors. Locked-in tuition programs guarantee that the rate you pay as a freshman is the rate you’ll pay every year that you attend school. Some schools charge a fee to lock in tuition rates, so make sure to ask how much guaranteed tuition will cost you.

5. Offset the Costs

If you can find ways to offset your college costs, you can take out smaller loans. Here are some common ways that people offset the cost of going to college:

  • Scholarships. Many universities and private organizations provide scholarships for students of all ages. Legitimate scholarships will never require an application fee, and you won’t have to go to a paid workshop to learn more about them.
  • Employer tuition reimbursement. Many employers will reimburse a percentage of your tuition costs if your classes are relevant to the company and prepare you for a future with that company. Contact someone in HR, or speak to your manager to find out more.

It Can Be Done

The long-term benefits of a college education usually offset the upfront costs. However, you can find smart ways to make those upfront costs much easier to bear.