I’m not going to lie — working from home is awesome.
It’s great because, for the most part, you have the freedom and flexibility to work the way that works best for you. So if that means working from your couch in your pajamas, then you get to do that.
However, with all that freedom comes lots of distractions trying to pull you away from your work. With your television right there, a fridge full of snacks a couple steps away, and no manager looking over your shoulder to ensure you’re actually doing your work, it’s easy to step away from what you should be doing.
If you find yourself struggling with the constant distractions while working from home, try some of these tips and see if they help improve your concentration and productivity.
1. Establish your office area.
Whether it’s an official office, your kitchen table, or your closet, you should have a designated office area. Your office area should include everything you would need to seamlessly go about your work day as you would in a more traditional office.
Wherever you set up camp, it should be far away from a TV, or else you may be tempted to switch it on and watch those daytime soap operas you secretly love. And it should also not include your bed or a comfy couch, for fear of getting a little too comfortable and taking a midday snooze.
Don’t be afraid to rotate your office space as well. You have the freedom to work from anywhere — you should take advantage of that. So, you can work from a local coffee shop on Monday, work from home on Tuesday, work from a co-working space on Wednesday, and work from the beach on Thursday. As long as there is a space that inspires your work and encourages your productivity, consider that a great office space.
At the end of the day, your office area should be a space you feel comfortable in, has a lot of natural light, and works best for the way in which you work.
2. Limit your technology if you can.
Obviously you may need technology to go about your business, but it can also be a major distraction to your work. Between text messages popping up on your cell phone, notifications from your Facebook profile, and cute cat videos to watch on YouTube, staying focused is rough.
Which is why you should try to eliminate as much of that as possible when you are trying to meet tight deadlines and grind out some major work. One way to go about that is turning your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode or by downloading applications for your computer, like SelfControl or Cold Turkey, which allow you to block distracting websites or even your inbox for a set amount of time.
3. Create set working hours.
Now I know what you’re thinking… one of the many perks of working from home is that you have leeway when it comes to when you want to work. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t create set working hours and a routine for yourself.
Just create a schedule and routine that works best for you so you can get everything done. For example, wake up at 8 a.m. everyday, workout, answer emails, eat lunch, get the bulk of your work done, take care of personal/family matters, and then catch up on industry articles before bed.
If you’re like me, you may produce your best creative work at night, and that’s totally fine. As long as you have a time and place for each task, you’re good. Having a routine will constantly keep you focused on work and your next task instead of getting bored and picking up all those other distractions throughout the day.
4. Stick to your to-do list.
Similar to having your routine established, you should also have a to-do list of work and personal goals you need to accomplish that day or week. And the kicker here is actually sticking to what you add on that list. Commit to it.
There will be plenty of times when a friend calls you inviting you to grab drinks with them for happy hour, or there’s an errand you feel like running midday that isn’t completely necessary. These are the worst kind of distractions because they are spontaneous and sound like a lot of fun. They will pull you away from your work for an extended period of time. And if this constantly happens, then you’ll never get any work done.
So if it’s not on your to-do list and isn’t an emergency — get back to work.
What are some innovative ways you are avoiding distractions when you work from home? Share with us in the comments section below!
Lisa Crocco is a freelance writer who can be found wandering the aisles of local bookstores or the streets of different cities.