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How To Stop Workday Distractions When Working From Home

fight-procrastinationWorking from home is not always the glorious wonderland some people think it is. I think there are more distractions at home in many cases than there are when you go to the office. Sure you may have a meeting or a phone call from a customer or even the random person walking by that eats up 15 minute of your day with a conversation you don’t care about. Even with all of these distractions, there is still a clear goal of what you are doing from 9-5 Monday-Friday.

Working from home is a lot more of a challenge until you get your routine down. Here are a couple of really common problems anyone who is just starting out with telecommuting will face. Keep in mind, all of these problems are solvable. Learning  to say NO is the building block to fighting distraction.

Family and friends who don’t understand keep dropping by or texting

This first one is a those pesky people who think you are just sitting at home all day doing nothing. People seem to think because you are home in the middle of the day you have greater amounts of availability. While it is true that you have more flexibility, you still have things you need to do during the day.

I have found a couple of things to help. The first way is to tell people in advance you are working from (insert your work schedule here).  I tend to work better at night, so it’s better for my workflow to start my day a bit later than other people do.  Because of this, I am usually working when other people are relaxing for the evening.

The second thing is to use away messages or shut off instant messengers and turn off your ringer. I think I’ve mentioned it before but I use a text message autoresponder for my Android phone to let people know that I’m working and will get back to them when I take a break.  Also by putting up an away message on your instant messenger or Skype and not responding to anybody who messages you will slowly wean them into knowing when your away messages up you’re actually working.

Housework needs to get done

This another common pitfall that new telecommuters fall victim to. it’s extremely easy to just throwing a load of laundry we work.  Or maybe while talking on the phone to a client you start cleaning up your kitchen.  When you think you’re multitasking actually distracting yourself from your workday.  I should set aside time in the morning or at nights or whenever you’re not working to do your household chores.  One thing that I like to do that’s probably not so productive  is to make a good lunch. What I mean is, I like to actually cook a good meal most of the time.  Something more like you would get at a sit down restaurant vs. something that you would get if you just ran to a fast food restaurant.  Sometimes it’s grilled cheese and soup other times it’s grilled chicken and potatoes and a vegetable. I see being able to cook a great meal for lunch is more of a perk that a distraction.

Make procrastination your bitch

Procrastination is the hardest thing to overcome when working from home.  Whether it be catching up on your TV shows instead of cold calling or sleeping in late instead of waking up at a set time every day, procrastination is a bitch.  A routine can help combat procrastination. A good place to start is having a set time you wake up every morning just like you would if you had an office job. Have your lunch at a specific time every day and have a quitting time.  The simple task will help you set boundaries and help people know when it’s okay to contact you to shoot the shit or drink a beer.  If you have a less set schedule it’s pretty easy to say “I’ll get to it later, I have all day to get it done.” When you start putting things off until later, you start to lose the battle.

I mentioned in a previous article that planning my day in advance is that a HUGE help. Sure things get moved around within the day, but having a list of things to do takes a lot of the guesswork out of the day.  We can wake up and see what you have to do, there’s no chance for procrastination to rear its ugly head.


Do you have any tips to help fight distractions for those new to working from home?


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