Working from home is a privilege many folks enjoy these days. And while it's nice to have the flexibility to work from the comfort of home, the one major drawback involved is the distraction factor.
Think about it: It's hard to get your job done when the couch beckons, there's bad TV to watch, and your household chores are calling your name. But if you don't get your work done, you'll probably lose the option to work from home. And if you're self-employed, you won't get paid. With that in mind, my fellow Fools and I are here to share our most helpful tips for avoiding distractions when working out of the house. With any luck, they'll help keep you on track.
1. Leave the house
Daniel B. Kline: My condo has all of my stuff. That includes an Xbox full of games, a Kindle stocked with books to read, and multiple TVs stuffed with shows to binge. Those are all possible distractions that can derail my efforts to work from home.
To take those possible diversions out of the mix, I don't spend my entire day actually working from home. Instead, I get up early (around 7 a.m.) and complete some tasks I'm obligated to do each day. Once those are complete, I might start working on a story or even complete one, but at some point between 9 and 10 a.m. I usually leave the house.
Generally, I walk from my building to one of a handful of coffee shops in my neighborhood. This serves a few purposes. First, I want coffee and generally don't make it at home. Second, it's nice to speak with other people, even if it's just a quick conversation with a barista.
Most importantly, not being home puts me in a situation where I have to focus on work. As I sit down with my coffee, I put a quota on the amount of work I need to do before I can let myself go home. That forces me to complete whatever goal I set for myself even if I get distracted by something on my computer or by talking with the various coffee shop workers I now know reasonably well.
2. Mute this massive modern distraction
Jason Hall: This is easily one of the best moves I have made to boost my productivity so far this year: Turn off all social media notifications. If you're like me, you use social media to keep in touch with friends and family and to engage with industry professionals. And while many aspects of social media certainly enrich our lives, the pervasive nature of the way these platforms work can create a massive drag on your ability to get things done.
The best place to start is to turn off all the notifications you get from social media, whether on your smartphone, computer, or both. The reality is that it's very hard to ignore the beep, chirp, or even just the flashing banner. Furthermore, we are actually hardwired to click on that notification and act. Science has shown that we actually get a mini-dopamine rush when we engage on social media. Since your brain actually rewards you for engaging with social media, it can be very hard to ignore. And that can cause you to waste a tremendous amount of what would be otherwise productive time. Considering how many surprising distractions at-home workers already face, proactively removing this one at the source will almost certainly pay big dividends.
In my case, it's paid dividends in my personal life, too. I spend more time engaging the people I'm with, and far less time staring at my smartphone. That's worth even more than the reduced distractions while I'm working.
3. Have a separate home office
Maurie Backman: My house is full of distractions -- laundry to be done, tables to be organized. But I can't afford to let those chores cause me to lose focus when I'm supposed to be at my desk. That's why I've always made it a point to have a dedicated home office -- with doors that close.
Fortunately, I'm not the type to get easily distracted by social media or my cellphone, so as long as I physically separate myself from the rest of the house, I find that I'm able to concentrate. Having a home office is crucial to my success, and as a bonus, I get to use it as a tax write-off.
If your home doesn't have a separate room you can use as an office, try partitioning off a portion of your living or dining room. You can even set up a desk in the corner of your bedroom and put one of those movable divider screens around it. The key is to create some sense of a workspace so that when you're there, your brain gets the message that it's time to do your job and not mess around.