Managing distractions while working from home

As Covid-19 spreads in North America, chances are that your employer has implemented a temporary work-from-home policy. If you’re new to this, you may have found out distractions were both plentiful and tempting.

However, it’s more about managing them than avoiding them. Unfortunately, the latter is pretty much impossible, as we are actually conditioned to seek out distractions.

Here are a few tips:

1-Set-up a dedicated work space

If your home is big enough to accommodate an entire room dedicated solely to work, you’re one of the lucky ones. If not, simply establish an area where you can use your computer, talk on the phone, and keep important documents stored. This area needs to be off-limit to your family or others who may live with you.

2- Set regular office hours

If you’re employed, your employer most likely expects you to be available and working during certain times of the day. These hours will most likely be the same than when you were physically going to work.

If you’re self-employed, you definitely have more flexibility but you still need a schedule.

3-Get your family on board

When the kids are running around, talking loudly, watching television, or fighting with each other, it can be difficult to get any work done. A spouse/partner may try to talk to you about issues or things that aren’t important at all.

You need everyone’s cooperation. Call a family meeting and explain to your children that you need to focus during work hours. Then ask your spouse/partner for a hand in keeping the kids entertained and occupied.

If both your spouse/partner and yourself work from home, you’ll need to take turns to watch your children, particularly now that daycares are closed.

One family I know uses the “stoplight system.” The work-at-home parent puts a red, yellow, or green circle on the office door based on what’s happening that day. Green means to come right in, yellow means to ask first, and red means do not disturb.

4- Break down your work

Create a list of what you need to do each day. Prioritize your tasks. Use a calendar to enter conference calls and deadlines and share it with your colleagues and boss. Communication is key.

5- Manage technology

Checking your email is a necessity when you’re telecommuting, especially if it’s your colleagues’ favorite method of communication. However, constantly clicking on that email tab can impede your own projects and disrupt workflow. Same goes with your cell phone.

Instead, close your email, turn off all phone notifications, and check your messages and only at designated times throughout the day. Even if you check every 30 minutes, you’ll still score some solid, uninterrupted work time.

6- Schedule breaks away from your desk

Use these breaks to check on your personal e-mails, browse social media or watch Netflix.

Be aware of the number of “breaks” that you take though. Consider only taking 2 to 3 breaks during your working day.

Final word

Working from home definitely comes-up with a few challenges. It requires some discipline and organization, as well as some getting-used to. Once you’ve achieved these, it can be very rewarding. Many studies show that working from home can make you happier and more productive.

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