I have wanted to work from home for as long as I can remember, and I have finally turned that dream into reality. Achieving this goal has been fulfilling, but I have discovered it comes with a different set of challenges than regular employment – mainly the distractions, which I have narrowed down to the top five.
Now, I am not a total novice to making income from home; I tried a few home-based marketing businesses selling everything from chocolate to storage solutions. I operated a personal grocery shopping business before there was Instacart, or any of the grocery stores offered a pick-up option.
Each of these endeavors was more for supplemental income, and I didn’t bring home near the wage I did when I was working out in the world. Since I did all these side gigs for fun, I didn’t pay much attention to how distracted I was while trying to work. However, now that I am leaving my full-time job to work from home, I am noticing how easy it is to get distracted!
#1 My Cell Phone
My cellphone is hands down the number one distraction to getting any work done. The problem is that I do use the phone for work, so I may pick it up to respond to a client, but then I notice that my lives are refilled on my detective game app, and I “take a break” and go play for a minute. One minute turns into 30 minutes before I even know what happened.
The other problem is the notifications! Ding, you have a new email. Buzz, someone commented on that Facebook post. Singsongy sound, you have a text. Or maybe the thing rings. It is incessant, and it continually interrupts my flow! If you have been noticing that your phone is distracting you from getting your work done too, try these few tips.
First, download the Focus-To-Do app and check out how to use the Pomodoro Technique. This technique increases your focus and helps you stay productive for specific brackets of time. Using this is great if you have the self-discipline not to pick up your phone during a Pomodoro. If you still reach for the phone because of a notification, then put the phone on airplane mode.
Doing this will allow you to take back control of when you are checking the phone and not the phone continually telling you that you need to know who just liked that cat meme you shared earlier. Another handy trick is to use the desktop versions instead of the apps.
I mentioned responding to clients earlier from my phone, which is a convenient tool for when I am away from home. But Upwork has a desktop version that I can run while I type on my laptop. The more ways you can eliminate the temptation to check your phone, the easier it will be. Some of the distractions are not this straightforward to handle.
#2 Smokey and Cinder (Otherwise Known as Pets)
Ok, your pets obviously have different names (or maybe you have a Smokey or a Cinder, in which case that is pretty cool). Regardless of what you have named these furry beasts, you may have started to notice that they are annoying! As I type, Cinder is trying to lay herself across my chest, while stomping on my keyboard.
Smokey is doing this thing he does, where he gets up on the couch and throws the pillows everywhere and spins around in circles before unceremoniously plopping his 70-pound self down with a sigh of annoyance that I am on his couch. How dare I, right? Then two minutes after this process, he launches himself off the couch to bark like a junkyard guard dog out the window. Rinse and repeat.
Here is the funny thing about pets, several studies have proven that working with your pets offers several benefits, including reduced stress, increased productivity, and increased happiness. Even though mine are sometimes annoying, I do agree that we are all much happier.
The solution to the distraction aspect is to find a dedicated office space in the house. Then the dogs can be in there with me if they want but not be able to climb on my lap. Having a dedicated home office space can help solve such work from home distractions.
#3 Household Chores and Family Obligations
I don’t think I am the only person out there who feels like I can’t work until I clean up the living room and the kitchen. I do believe that I think this way, though, because I am currently working in my living room. Again, find a dedicated space that doesn’t place you right in the thick of everything (If you need any help figuring out how to decorate your new area, be sure to check out this article).
This will help curb the desire to stop working and vacuum the rug or dust the entertainment center. If there isn’t another place in your house where you can work, I find that spending an hour in the morning cleaning to be helpful. I set a time for 60 minutes and then clean all the things I notice right off the bat. Then when I sit down to work, I am less likely to see these things in the middle of a thought and want to stop what I am doing so I can clean them.
If you have kids and a spouse that are contributing to the chaos around the house, then remind them that they need to help out! You aren’t just home making sure everything gets done, you are working on your career and need to be able to get your work done!
#4 Access to The TV
Speaking of that entertainment center…Avoid everything on it while you are working, or supposed to be working. I set my soap operas to record and watch them when I finish my tasks for the day. If you are a gamer, then don’t even look at your console! Thankfully, I don’t watch much TV or binge things on Netflix, but it can be a problem if you have been dying to view the latest season of your Netflix original.
You can handle this by using some time management skills and avoiding even turning the TV on until you are done working. Some people think they can work while they watch TV, but that never works for me (or most people). Your work will end up being sub-par, or you will accomplish far less than you imagine.
If you are super disciplined and think you can take a break and watch just one show, then you could try it. For most of us, though, the world of streaming TV has become like a bag of chips; you know you aren’t going to eat just one, so don’t start.
#5 The Bag of Chips
Frequent snacking is another benefit, er distraction that people face when working from home. The fridge and cupboards are so close, and it isn’t like you have to worry about a customer coming and seeing you munching on those chips. However, it is crucial to make sure that we don’t pack on the pounds because we can graze all day long. Instead, try:
- Setting specific times for meals and snacks (like in between Pomodoro’s)
- Stock the fridge with lots of fruits and vegetables
- Meal prep or make lunches for the week, so you aren’t deciding to order out
Also, a nice walk, or workout, at around 3 pm can get you refocused and battle the afternoon crash, as well as counteract any lingering effects of excessive snacking.
I am excited to start working exclusively from my home, even after the coronavirus restrictions loosen, and others go back to work in their offices. I want to make sure that I am well prepared to face the challenges of working from home, and I am sure I will need a reminder to take my own advice! I hope you found these tips helpful, whether you are trying to navigate working from home temporarily, or looking at making it a permanent move!
Turn the TV off, distance yourself from your phone, either by putting it on airplane mode or out of sight! Enjoy the pets even though they can be annoying at times. If you can set up in a dedicated office space, then do it, and preferably not too close to the kitchen. If you do not have access to another room where you can make an office, try and work from the same spot daily (ideally a different place than where you relax). If you have any other work from home distractions or helpful tips you would like to add, leave them in the comments section below!