Mitigation Strategies for 5 Major Home Office Distractions
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I’m not sure why it is that when some people think of working from home, they are under the impression it will be peaceful and quiet. If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office (I have in a past life), it’s far from quiet or distraction free.
Working from home is no different, but the distractions are of a different flavor. These distractions can be external or internal in nature. Let’s shed some light on five of the most common, and some tips on how to deal with them.
1. Children Under Foot
If you have little children around, it can be especially challenging (although very cute at times!). As a friend of mine said, it’s hard to work from home with little children without help. I started my business with a toddler around, so trust me when I say you’ve got to get creative.
Tip: If you can’t bear the thought of waiting one more second to start working on your million dollar idea, have a plan. If you have little ones, work around their schedule by working early in the morning, during nap times or late at night after their bedtime. Also, be realistic about how much time you can spend on your business. If it’s not the right time, there’s no sense in banging your head against the wall. If now is the time, get some help from a family member, education program, day care or a babysitter, if necessary.
2. Family Interruptions
"Is dinner ready?" "Are we going to the pool?" "Did you take the trash out?" "Did you check the mail?" Living in your office, aka working in your home probably means you have other people living in it. How do you minimize the interruptions?
Tip: Set some boundaries: “a closed door means do not disturb", “9am-4pm are office hours” or other boundary that makes sense to you and your household. Post hours if you have to (this also helps with your mental boundaries if you are an incurable workaholic).
3. The "Shoulds" & "Want To’s"
Have you heard this annoying dialogue in your head? "I should be doing the laundry," "I should be cleaning out the garage,", "I want to watch that talk show," or "I want to take a walk”… Ever had this problem? Working from home lends itself to the distractions of life and those pesky "shoulds" & "want to’s".
Tip: After a little experience working at home, you’ll get the hang of it, but you have to be firm with yourself and stay on task. You can do that by:
- Keep a running list of household projects and tasks that pop up in your head.
- Capture them somehow so you can revisit them after working hours are over.
- Resist the urge to chase something shiny and get your stuff done.
- Reward yourself with a "want to" if that helps you stay motivated.
4. Little Annoyances – like being pecked to death by a duck
A creaky chair, a pen that doesn’t work or a squeaky floor. It may seem a little trite, but those little things can drive you crazy! It’s distracting to you, and if/when you’re on a deadline they are sidetrack magnets. So, take care of them, no matter how small.
Tip: Make a list of the little annoyances, and take care of them one at time at a designated time during the week. Don’t make excuses. Just take care of it. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you will be.
5. Me, Myself and I
I did an informal poll on my various social networks, asking, "What’s your biggest home office distraction challenge?" The most popular answer?
Is it your head you can’t turn off? Are there things you are supposed to be doing, but aren’t? Are you hungry? Stressed? Unequipped? A pushover? Afraid to stand up for your work hours? What is really driving you to distraction?
Tip: I saw this on a local factory billboard: "If you’re aware of it, take care of it." Perhaps you don’t know what is distracting you, so get real. Sit down with a cup of coffee and write it out. Once you identify what’s driving you away from the work at hand, take care of it or get a plan in place to handle it going forward. Period. What’s distracting you? What will you do about it?