Work-from-home conditions have been thrust upon people all over the world, and naturally many are still getting used to them. While there had already been a growing trend toward remote employment, plenty of people never planned on an arrangement like this, and are having to adjust on the fly. That adjustment comes with a number of challenges though, and one in particular is learning to avoid distractions.
In a way, the issue of distractions at home can actually be a god thing for company culture. When another article here examined ‘What We’ve Learnt From the Work From Home Experience’ it was stated that watching others deal with these conditions has “engendered an elevated level of empathy” among co-workers. If you see a co-worker having to juggle work and young children, for instance, you’re liable to be understanding, and to remain considerate of said co-worker’s struggle. This can indeed result in greater empathy throughout a company.
With that potential benefit noted though, it’s still important for people working from home to find ways of avoiding distraction and maximizing productivity. For that, we have a few helpful tips to consider.
Start Your Day With a Routine
The importance of setting the right tone for a workday cannot be overstated. When you’re working at an office, you automatically have a routine to some degree: You wake up, take a shower, have something to eat and drink, and commute to your job, at least. At home, however, the same routine is less necessary. You can be more flexible in how you start your day. Too much flexibility, however, will set the tone for a haphazard day, and will as a result make you more susceptible to distraction. If you train yourself to think it’s not important to start your day a certain way, that is, what’s to make you feel that it’s important to avoid interruptions?
Even a simple routine can keep you from making this sort of mistake. AudienceBloom’s Jayson Demers wrote for Inc. about morning routines, and had some sound recommendations you may want to keep in mind: eating a protein-heavy breakfast, exercising early, avoiding email when still in bed, and so on. But these are just suggestions. The point is to establish any sort of routine that leads you into your workday at a set, structured time.
Establish A Sound Schedule
Beyond your morning routine, it’s important to establish a more detailed schedule as well. Verizon Connect’s Holly Dempster suggests “scheduling every task” as part of what it means to work “smart” instead of “hard,” and this is a good way to think of it when working from home. By scheduling your entire day — from when you wake up, to when you start work, when you take lunch or respond to emails, and so on — you can actually minimize your workload. It won’t always feel that way. But that’s what it means to work “smart” instead of “hard.”
Scheduling can make it look like you’re laying out a lot of work for yourself. It will also make it easier to avoid distractions, however. If you know you’re supposed to do a given thing at a given time, you’re less likely to let something interrupt you and disrupt your schedule.
Communicate on Your Time
We just mentioned responding to emails as part of a strategic daily schedule, and this is actually a key point to keep in mind. Not all distractions necessarily come from outside your job. In some cases, when you’re working remotely, you can actually get distracted by all the communications coming your way. Chats, emails, requests, calls, and so on can pile up such that you feel as if you’re expected to answer everything all at once.
Now, depending on the nature of your job or position, you may need to prioritize some communications, or be “on call” so to speak. Generally though, it’s best to remember to stick to what you need to do in the course of your job on a day-to-day basis, and designate specific time for communication. That way you’re less likely to get distracted by communications that may not be as important as other work at any given moment.
Set Up a Home Office
Arguably the best way of all to avoid distraction while working from home is to set up a home office. Coral Nafie of The Spruce outlined some set-up tips that speak to how to make such a room comfortable and productive: choosing comfortable seating, making sure you have everything you need, etc.
Every bit as important, however, is making sure the room feels separate from the house. That means making sure it’s a room with a door (or some other sort of makeshift barrier). It means establishing boundaries with family or roommates, such that they know not to interrupt if it can be helped. Making the office feel like its own separate environment, above all else, will help you to tune out the distractions of home and focus on work.
Written by Gertrude Ramblin for spacestor.com