Yesterday was the most productive day I’ve had in a long time. Rather than sneak in a few personal tasks that I knew would take only a few minutes, I focused on work. I admit that it wasn’t easy, but at the end of the day I’d made a major dent in my To Do list.
Working from home gives you the freedom to work flexible hours, take days off, and postpone tasks you need to do, but don’t feel like doing. Too much freedom, though, can make it hard to fight the distractions that surround your home office.
There are a few ways to keep distractions under control:
- Find the right place for your home office. Before you set up shop, find a space that isn’t in the main traffic flow of your home, but isn’t so isolated, you avoid working there. While you don’t have to work in your home office every day —a coffee shop, your family room, or your backyard are good options — designate one space as your home base. Use that space to store files, reference materials, and extra supplies.
- Take the TV out of your home office. Between HGTV, CNN and reality shows, it’s easy to get distracted. Fortunately a TV is a simple distraction you can take out of your home office. You can catch some of the same shows on your computer, but fight the urge to watch, instead of work.
- Use Caller ID to screen your calls. One too many personal calls will make you wonder at the end of the day, where the time went. That’s when Caller ID is invaluable. And for the record, the person who invented Caller ID deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace and quiet to home offices around the world.
- Set work boundaries. Make it clear to your friends and family that when you’re working, you don’t want to be interrupted either in person or on the phone. Don’t get discouraged if your family can’t take a hint and continues to interrupt you often. If you don’t set boundaries for when you need to work, you may have to put off working until later in the evening.
- Save personal tasks until lunchtime or after hours. It’s tempting to throw in a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, and pick up the mess from last night, when you should be working instead. Before you get to your home office, take care of the tasks that will nag at you throughout the day, and then get to work. Otherwise, your personal tasks will overshadow any work you need to accomplish.
My oh-so-productive day has inspired me to be even more focused. It’s also convinced me that it’s OK to wait until the end of the day to take recycling outside or empty the dishwasher. My dog, however, has made it clear that waiting until the end of the day for me to feed him and walk him, is not an option.