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.