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Working From Home – The top 5 Distractions and how to Deal With Them

Tips to Help you Cope

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, many of us are ‘out of office’ at the moment. For some, of course, this is nothing new. Thousands of people work from home each day, either full time or a few days a week.

For others, setting up a home office and getting that daily work done has been a novel experience and one which they have had to come to grips with pretty quickly.

Welcome to a World of Good old Fashioned Procrastination

Homeworking, or telecommuting as it is sometimes called, can be brilliant. You don’t have that boring, cramped journey to work for a start.

You can organise your day without a boss breathing down your neck, take a break whenever you want, even listen to your favourite tunes on full blast while you get on with the job.

Working from home requires discipline, however. If you are prone to procrastination, you are likely to see it increase (sometimes exponentially) when you telecommute. Even if you are diligent and focused, you can still fall foul of the challenges that home working presents.

It’s amazing the number of things in your home that are likely to distract you.

1. Kids and Family

By far the biggest distraction when working from home are your nearest and dearest. In normal times, the kids would be at school at least for part of the day and your better half would probably be at work themselves.

With the pandemic lockdown, everyone is cloistered in one place. There’s not only limited space but limited bandwidth on your home broadband too. Kids starting to play or needing home-schooling make it difficult to keep to your normal routine. Even if you share with other adults, there can be challenges.

So, what’s the solution?

The key is to set the rules early on and keep to them. It helps if you have a dedicated office space where you can shut the door and focus.

Here’s another thing: Anyone who has worked from home will tell you that most people, including friends, suddenly think you can drop everything immediately and help them out. Make sure they know this is not the case and you are not to be disturbed.

2. Lack of Structure

While this doesn’t sound like a distraction, it is. In the traditional workplace, you have a set structure that supports you as you get on with daily tasks.

  • You get to work at a specific time
  • Sit down at your desk
  • Have access to the software you need such as Amazon Chime
  • You have a manager or boss who is expecting you to deliver.

When you work from home, a lot of this structure disappears. It can be easy to get into bad habits. You get up later, finish later, take more breaks, pop out to the shops, do the cleaning and a whole host of other things that get in the way of work.

It’s essential to keep to your normal office working routine. If you start at 8:30, make sure you are sat at your desk at this time. If you normally work straight through to lunch, maintain this.

What can help is to plan your schedule the night before so that you have a list of tasks you want to complete and can easily tick them off during the day.

Our tip

Try using Microsoft 'To-do', it's a great app.

Microsoft To Do

While this doesn’t sound like a distraction, it really is. In the traditional workplace, you have a set structure that supports you as you get on with daily tasks.

  • You get to work at a certain time.
  • Sit down at your desk.
  • Have access to the software you need.
  • You have a manager or boss who is expecting you to deliver.

When you work from home, a lot of this structure disappears. It can be easy to get into bad habits. You get up later, finish later, take more breaks, pop out to the shops, do the cleaning and a whole host of other things that get in the way of work.

It’s essential to keep to your normal office working routine. If you start at 8:30, make sure you are sat at your desk at this time. If you normally work straight through to lunch, maintain this.

What can help is to plan your schedule the night before so that you have a list of tasks you want to complete and can easily tick them off during the day.

3. Television

The TV is a major distraction if you have it on during work. Most of us don’t watch television while we’re in the office. You might think you can have the news on in the background, but you’ll be surprised how it affects productivity. One breaking news item is all it takes to eat up some serious time during your working day, especially at the moment when so much is happening.

Even more tempting is to start watching the first episode of a box set before you get down to work.

Our advice is to turn off the TV and don’t set up your office in a room where there is one – it can be far too tempting. If you want to catch up with the news, or watch your favourite program, leave it for when you have finished for the day.

4. Food and Drink

You have a whole kitchen to yourself and, what the hell, you’re working from home. People are often surprised at what a distraction food and drink can be. There’s no one to track that you are going for yet another tea break. You can even cook stuff and use up a bit more time there.

This is a habit that you can quickly fall into: Perhaps you have a difficult client to call. You decide to make a coffee and think about it, whereas in the office environment you would have picked up the phone or made a video call and gotten it out of the way immediately

Struggling over a piece of work? Let’s get up and make a sandwich or better still pop out to the local supermarket and buy a tasty treat.

It’s important to not use the kitchen as an excuse not to do any work. You’ll be surprised how each little act of culinary defiance will build up and take time out of your working day.

Our tip

Use your phone to set a timer for a work period before you are allowed to get up and make a coffee again and you should see this distraction remain under control.

5. Housework

Finally, it’s amazing how many people who work from home suddenly become quite interested in housework. If you’re struggling with a piece of work, it can also be the easiest thing in the world to just tidy up a room or vacuum a floor or do some dishes.

We’ve known telecommuters who have spent the whole day spring cleaning rather than doing their allotted work. This is essentially just another form of procrastination. Keep your home tidy and resist the urge to get the vacuum cleaner out while you are ‘at work’.

Have you got some great tips for working from home? If so leave us a comment or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

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