Working Hard From Home, or Hardly Working (Ahem, Distractions)?

Squinting at your laptop computer screen, wishing for your multiple monitors at the office, you rock back in your chair and rub your temples. It’s already after noon, these expense reports are due first thing in the morning, and you just can’t make yourself focus. 

Glancing over at the pile of clean clothes on the guest bed, you try to resist the urge to fold them. It would only take a few minutes, and you are so far behind on laundry. 

Trying to ignore the feeling that nothing is getting done the way it needs to, you decide you need to write up your to-do list for the afternoon before you go any farther. You open your desk drawer in search of a pen and paper. Stacks of crumpled receipts, paper clip chains, and unsharpened pencils slide around under your fingertips as you search.

Finally, you resort to dumping out the entire drawer. Locating a lone, broken crayon and a no-longer-sticky Post-it note, you scrawl out a discouragingly long list of things you need to accomplish.

But before you can even reread your list… 

“MOM!” your 8 year old bellows from the other room, “HOW DO I FIND MY ART CLASS?” 

Sighing again, you begrudgingly leave your desk to go help your child. Those urgent reports will have to wait until later. Looks like it’ll be another long, late night for you.[/box]

Sound familiar? Working from home, distractions are all over the place. Fortunately, all is not lost. To reclaim your nights and weekends, here are some quick and easy tips to ramp up your productivity while working from home.

1 . Make a Space

One of the top time-stealers for those working from home is trying to work out of a space that’s usually reserved for chores, home-schooling, and daily life.

Imagine how distracting it would be if your husband made a sandwich in your professional office. It’s the same exact thing as trying to work from home, out of your kitchen.

To solve the problem, find a space – any space! – in your home that’s less-trafficked. Whether it’s a corner in the living room, a spare room, or even in your basement or garage, reserve that specific space only for work. 

Can’t find a dedicated space just for work? You can also block out distractions by sitting facing a wall, or use room dividers to provide a visual barrier.

  2 . Clear It Out!

Now that you’ve identified your space, make sure there are minimal distractions. Clear out your work space so it contains only the things you need expressly for work. 

Remember, stuff related to household chores, like that pile of laundry that needs to be folded, will distract you if in sight. Ensure when you sit down for work, the only things you can see are related to your job.

Start treating your work space like you would your office (that means no cans of paint, personal mail, laundry, or other household project items lying around!), and you’ll find both your focus and productivity improve.

3 . Collect Everything You Need

If you don’t have what you need at hand, you’ll inevitably end up spending hours wandering around your house looking for that specific item. This is bad news because it automatically destroys your focus and reminds you of all those unfinished house projects and chores. 

A lack of productivity during the day means pushing off work until later in the evening, resulting in a frantic, late night push to reach your deadlines.

To avoid this problem, make sure your work space has everything you need: pens, pencils, calculators, laptop, laptop charger, etc. – whatever you’re used to having easy access to at the office. 

4 . Put the Puzzle Together

You’ve found a space. You’ve cleared out the irrelevant stuff and have collected the supplies and tools you need to work productively. Now is the time to put your work space completely together. 

How was everything set up in your office at work? Will a similar arrangement work at home, too? Are there things that you wish had been different about your professional setup? Your work-from-home space is yours, so feel free to arrange it so it works for you.

Sit in the chair where you plan to work. Position your laptop/desktop exactly where you want it. Put your most-used items (things you grab for every day) within easy reach. Be sure you arrange everything so it’s easy to see what you have. As needed, incorporate containers to keep different kinds of work items separate from one another. 

Then, test-drive your setup. Is your WiFi signal adequate? Any audio/visual problems? Do you need an extension cord so you can plug in your phone?

Make sure everything feels 100% before your next work day.

5 . Set Clear Boundaries

Having the ideal setup is vitally important – but it won’t lead to productivity all by itself. Because you’re at home and in sight, the other people in your house are going to want to interact with you the same way they would on a normal, non-working day. 

So, to truly be productive, you’re going to have to set some boundaries. That might look like:

  • Coming up with a schedule indicating when you’re available for questions.
  • Having “family lunch time” so you and your kids can spend time together while eating.
  • Setting up reminders (like a sign that says, “I am working now, and I will be free at 11:30am”)… and enforcing them! If your partner or child interrupts you, gently remind them that you are working, and that you will gladly help them at a specific time. 
  • If you have a spouse or co-parent at home, trading off work and free time (they manage the kids from 9 to 11am, and you take over from 11am to 1pm. Though chopping up your day like this may feel counter-productive, having dedicated, uninterrupted blocks of time will absolutely improve productivity for everyone involved. 

There’s no doubt today’s “new normal” has come with a steep learning curve (for everyone, not just you!). No one out there is doing everything right. Everyone is struggling in some way. So, be kind to yourself and your family.

If you feel like you’re struggling, and you’re not sure how to fix it, remember it’s okay to get help. Our compassionate, caring workflow guides are here to help you clear out chaos and create your ideal Workflow from Home™.

To learn more about our special Workflow from Home™ service, specifically designed to move you from overwhelm to focus and productivity, contact us today!

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