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22 Oct 2021

How to deal with distractions when working from home

How to deal with distractions when working from home

One of the big challenges for people working from home are the distractions. 

We know there are plenty of distractions at the office, but at home they are different, and you need to adapt to these while also adjusting to working in the home environment.

It may not be a colleague interrupting, but it could be a child asking for your attention. It might not be phones ringing, but it could be next door's DIY project. One of the biggest distractions of all is of course, our smart phones.

If you're new to working from home, these distractions can be even more stimulating. Rather than being background noise, they become intrusive, and where there's a distraction, there can be procrastination.

Start with clarity

Get clear on your goals and priorities so that you are less likely to succumb to any potential distractions. With a firm idea of what you are meant to be doing and what you need to work on, it is easier to maintain focus and stay motivated.

In the long-term, we can gain real clarity on future goals through simply taking action and learning.

In the short-term, it is helpful to prioritise your tasks so you are not left with an overwhelming to-do list. Understand which ones are most important and the steps needed to achieve them so that you have a clear action plan.

Time Management for distractions

Scheduling makes things real. When something is written into the diary, you are much more likely to focus on that task.

A method such as time-blocking gives you a structure to follow in your day so you know exactly what you are meant to be working on. This means you are less likely to be distracted. Importantly, remember to block breaks and space between tasks so that you are re-energised each time.

If you find you need a short sharp burst of focus just to get started or do something small, techniques such as the Pomodoro method can help. Giving yourself a time limit helps keep you laser focused on the task.

Communication to help cope with distractions

Children and family members are often a replacement for colleagues when it comes to distractions when working from home.

Setting clear boundaries, such as notes on the door, and discussing your schedule can be helpful so they understand when you are not to be disturbed.

Communication is really important. You need to be able to communicate your needs and also that you are not rejecting them, you just need time to concentrate. With children, it is really helpful to spend quality time with them first so they feel satisfied and are less likely to pester. Discuss something you can do together after you have finished your task as well so there is something to look forward to.

Remember what you are communicating to yourself as well. Positive messages about how you will get things done and how you intend to be focused are helpful. More so than the messaging where you tell yourself you always get distracted and you're no good at time keeping.

Switch off to switch on

Your phone can be one of the biggest distractions. From social media and email to all the app notifications, it can be a constant source of temptation. When you need to focus, turn off your notifications and switch alarms and calls to silent.

Out of sight is out of mind so try moving your phone away from your desk and give yourself the best chance to work undistracted.

When working at your computer, close any unnecessary browser tabs on your desktop, including email, as these can also prove distracting and cause you to lose focus.

Apps to help you cope with distractions

While it is often recommended to put the phone away, you can also make use of the technology to help you stay on track. Certain apps can help you stay focused and importantly, encourage you not to touch your phone. Some apps will turn it into a game where you grow a tree or create a garden while you work.

By Louise Goss, Founder of The Homeworker

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