Working from home can pose many challenges. Unlike the office environment where space is totally dedicated to working, a work from home environment possesses many non-work related distractions that can cause lots of disruption throughout the workday.
Controlling interruptions and disturbances when you work within the walls of your home is not always an easy task, but it is possible by taking a few proactive steps to help increase productivity. Through minimizing distractions, you can maximize productivity and better accomplish the daily and long-term tasks you need to get done.
Controlling Distractions When Working from Home
Set Office Hours
A regular schedule goes a long way in minimizing distractions when you work from home. Since there are often phone calls, temptations, invitations and other events going on in the home, it may sometimes be difficult to accomplish much work done when there are numerous ways to be distracted. But by setting regular work hours, much like a traditional office setting, you give yourself a dedicated block of time every workday. This provides you the ability to focus entirely on your tasks with no disruption.
In order for this to be successful, though, it is essential to treat these hours the same way you would as if you worked at an external work location with regular hours your employer required you to be in the building. As a part of dedicated office hours, it is also important to make a pact with yourself not to break your stipulated office hours unless there is an emergency or true priority that arises during your work day which cannot be avoided and must be tended. Make sure others know your work hours too.
It is difficult to work in a room or on a desk that is being used by several other people in the household. Ideally, a separate room for work is best, but the reality is this is not always possible for everyone. If this is the situation try to give yourself, at the very least, a designated desk and a bookshelf. You can close the door during the times you need to work. Additionally, it is important to make sure all your work-related materials are not disturbed if you have your own space. Get yourself a good filing cabinet too. You can keep files and, if necessary, supplies inside. There are many good options online.
Screen Your Telephone Calls
If possible it is a good idea to separate the home and business telephone lines. However, if this is not feasible make liberal use of voicemail and caller ID. If you are using a landline, install an answering machine so you can carefully screen calls and not get interrupted with non-work related telephone calls. Turn off, or make a concentrated effort, to not answer incoming mobile calls or text messages.
Explain Your Job to Family and Friends
Family members (and/or friends) may not understand your job and any constraints and deadlines you may be under. To minimize interruptions, it is important to explain to everyone in detail how unanticipated breaks in your workday can negatively impact your job and/or hinder your ability to complete your work. Once family and friends understand that you do have a job, but just happen to work from home, they will likely be much less inclined to interrupt you during your specified work hours.
Working from home can be a great advantage as it provides the opportunity for flexibility, handling family obligations and being able to work, and to eliminate commuting. One of the biggest drawbacks to working from home is typically distractions.
By making a few changes in the way you approach your day, you can reduce and, probably, eliminate some of the most common interruptions often experienced by people who work from home.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.