Working from home can be just as much a curse as a blessing. The distractions are plentiful, and there’s no boss to raise an eyebrow when you’re online shopping. Luckily, every one of these problems can be overcome, and we’ll show you how. Read on…
Today’s question is from Ella K., who writes, “I consider myself very lucky to be a freelancer, but sometimes working from home seems even more challenging than working in an office. Do you have any advice about how to stay focused?”
There are certainly downsides to working in an office, but there are also a lot of built-in boundaries that can help keep you focused. It’s pretty certain that your coworkers would notice if you watched a movie at your desk or laid your head down to take a nap.
At home, though, none of this external policing exists and the sanity killing distractions are aplenty. So, with the goal of keeping you focused and successful, here’s our list of the biggest home office distractions and how you can deal with them.
1. Problem: Neighborhood noise
If you thought your neighborhood just peacefully slumbered while you were at the office, you were wrong. From lawnmowers, leaf blowers and snow blowers to car horns and parents taking screaming children out for a walk, there are plenty of sounds to pull you away from work and make you crazy.
If you’re looking to block the noise, I’m a big fan of Hearos Xtreme Protection earplugs—you can get a box of 14 pairs for about six or seven bucks on Amazon. If you’re looking to drown it out, I like to visit Noisli.com and create a custom white noise blend made up of a rainstorm, leaves blowing and just a touch of coffee shop ambient sound.
If, however, there’s no escaping the noise (and assuming you don’t want to shell out for a co-working space), nothing beats the silence or the price of the library.
2. Problem: Social Media
Sure, you might check social media in an office, but you certainly wouldn’t be on it all day. At home…you can check back every five minutes, and there’s no penalty. (Besides the lack of productivity.)
Save yourself from falling into the trap by installing an app like Focus or Leechblock that lets you decide which sites to block yourself from and for how long.
3. Problem: Email
You want to get email from your favorite stores and sites because you want the updates. But, if you’re anything like me, you check email constantly just to see what those updates are.
The most effective way to make sure you still get these emails but also make sure that they don’t distract you is to open a separate email account just for your retail and news emails and keep it entirely separate from your work email. Then, while you’re working, you’re only allowed to check work email. (Is your other email still too distracting? Block the site with an app from #2.)
4. Problem: Roommates or Family
Sometimes the people you live with don’t understand that you being home doesn’t mean that you’re available. The best solution to this is to find yourself a room with a door.
It sounds flip, but it’s true: Working at the kitchen table makes you too accessible. A room with a door (even if it’s a bathroom!) cuts you off and makes you harder to get to.
You also need to gently explain to the people you live with that, unless the house is literally on fire, you cannot be disturbed between specified hours.
5. Problem: Housework
Interestingly, for people working from home, one of the most tempting distractions from work is more work: housework. After all, doing housework when you should be doing your copywriting work feels like you’re still doing something useful. And you are, of course, but at a major detriment to the work that actually brings in income.
Housework can be a good brain break, but a break means that you get back to work; you don’t let housework derail your copywriting progress. What to do? Schedule your housework just like you’d schedule any other appointment: Block it off in your calendar and stick to that specified time. A 15-minute laundry folding break means only 15 minutes and only during the time you’ve blocked off.
6. Problem: Sleepiness
Afternoon drowsiness. ‘Nuff said
Well, this one’s easy: Nap! One of the benefits of working from home is that you actually can take advantage of those power naps the productivity experts are always raging about. Aim to nap for 20 minutes to an hour.
If you find you can’t nap for less than two hours, check your nighttime schedule—you may not be getting enough sleep there. Twenty minutes to an hour is a great way to recharge, but two hours is taking up way to much work time. Get your rest, but make sure you get it at the right time of day.
Your turn! How do you deal with home office distractions? Let us know in the comments below!