How to Manage Distractions When Working From Home
The number of people working remotely continues to rise each year with no sign of slowing down. In 2020, many individuals have been forced to work from home, sometimes in less than ideal conditions. From children to mindless internet browsing, working from home brings on a number of distractions that are tough to beat.
Continue reading for advice and practical tips for how to manage any distraction that could get in the way of your focus as you work from home.
Keep Your Phone in Another Room
When you work from home, there are no onlookers to discourage you from looking at your phone. If you don’t need a phone to complete your work, consider keeping it in another room.
Separate yourself from it entirely. This way, if you feel a dip in your focus and you’re compelled to scroll Instagram or check on the status of a mobile game, you won’t be able to do so as soon as you feel the impulse. Plus, you won’t see any distracting notifications pop up in front of you.
Keeping your phone as far from you as possible means those seemingly innocent interruptions can’t distract you from your work. Turning your phone facedown can also eliminate distractions, as you won’t see your phone light up with every new reminder.
Every notification you receive on your phone or computer can be managed. You have complete control over what notifications you get. It does take time to update your preferences, but that’s a small price to pay when your productivity is on the line.
To get on top of your notifications, spend a week or two monitoring every time you receive one. Each time you do, consider if you actually need that notification. What will happen if you don’t see a Facebook Messenger notification? Would any fires start if you only checked those messages a couple of times a day?
Take the time to purge your notifications. Every time an app asks if it can send you notifications, think twice about adding it to your list of distractions.
Block Distracting Websites
We know our smartphones aren’t the only cause of distractions—our computers play a significant role as well. Between news aggregator sites, Facebook, online games, and what have you, there are myriad ways to become distracted when working online.
Since many of our jobs require us to work online, it’s remarkably easy to find yourself mindlessly scrolling on Twitter or reading an article on anything from the coronavirus to which celebrities look alike. If you find this often happens to you, remember that you don’t have to rely solely on your own willpower to keep focused. There are a number of applications available that can block distracting websites for you.
Website blockers help you control the time you spend online. You can choose which websites you want to have access to, and at what times, to create productive blocks of focus. If you decide it’s time to get to an important task, your website blocker will prevent you from accessing distractions like Facebook, Reddit, or the news.
Each website blocker is a little different from the next one. Some are free, and others provide varying features that come at a cost. Choosing the best one for you comes down to your needs and the type of device you use.
We outlined the features, cost, and benefits of the most popular website blockers in our article: Comparing 8 of the Best Website Blockers.
Full disclosure—we run Focus and we believe it’s the best distraction blocker for Mac. We aim to make Focus a simple and powerful ally in your pursuit of productivity. Get started with a free 7-day trial of Focus.
Schedule Time for Email
You don’t need to keep an email tab open all day. Email isn’t an emergency by nature. If someone needs to contact you immediately, they won’t send you an email—they are far more likely to contact you in another way.
Constantly checking your email is essentially making yourself available to distractions. Schedule specific times of the day when you check your email and don’t check it in between those set times. You have enough distractions to worry about when you work from home.
Manage Sounds Around You
Depending on who you live with, working from home might get a little noisy. Manage the sounds around you so that they help your productivity instead of hindering it.
Noise-canceling headphones will block out the distracting sounds around you. They’ll also, hopefully, illustrate to anyone around you that you are busy.
Choosing the right type of sounds to listen to while working can increase your productivity. It all depends on your personal preferences and the type of work you are doing. Music with lyrics can help you complete monotonous tasks, while tasks that require more thought and consideration are better matched with ambient sounds or music without lyrics.
Learn more about How to Use Sound to Increase Your Productivity and Focus.
Don’t Make Meals During Work Hours
Since you’re working from home, you may feel the urge to make yourself something a bit more exciting during your break. You’re not in an office, which means you have access to a full kitchen any time you feel hungry. And if you’re living with people who enjoy your cooking, such as your children or perpetually hungry roommate, you may feel doubly compelled to cook something for them, too.
Access to your own kitchen is a definite benefit to working at home, but watch that your cooking doesn’t get in the way of your work or your breaks. You don’t want to spend your entire lunch break cooking a meal. You need that time to give your brain a break.
Try to look at your lunch in the same way you would if you were going out of the house for work. Keep it simple. If you want something home-cooked, you can prepare several meals in advance in the evenings or on Sunday.
Set Boundaries With Others
If you live with people such as your spouse, children, parents, or roommates, working from home is going to be a difficult transition for them as well as you. They’re used to the fact that when you’re at home, you’re available to help them out with anything they need or to answer any questions they might have.
Unfortunately, you’re going to need to explain to them that even though you may be at home, they need to treat you as though you’re at work during working hours. Any interruption, even a seemingly mild one, severely impacts your focus and hinders your productivity. Tell those you live with what time of day you’re available and what times you are not.
You are available in case of an emergency, but otherwise, you are at work.
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