Working from home, whether you’re an entrepreneur or work for an employer, can be challenge. I’m in the thick of Fall Break right now with both my girls home and I have found myself lacking focus, As a result, not getting any of my high priority tasks completed. This seems to happen during Christmas break and summer too! You’d think I’d have mastered managing distractions by now…but there are still days that I lose focus!
Is a home office an option?
Ideally, the best solution for managing distractions would be to have a separate home office where you could go in and close the door behind you. But I think the majority of us work at home moms, don’t have that luxury! I used to when my girls were a lot younger and shared a room…but I felt it was important for them to have their own rooms so I gave up my home office a few years back!
I’ve taken over the entire front formal living and dining area. This space now functions as my home office, my workout space, sitting areas as well as where our command center is for The Scrunchie Sisters (www.thescrunchiesisters.com) So when having a separate room for a home office isn’t possible, what can you do when you have work that requires concentration? Try these strategies to help you to focus on your work and avoid distractions.
Strategies to avoid distractions:
- Wear headphones. Sometimes the obvious solution is the one that’s most effective. I personally have used my Beats headphones because not only do they allow me to listen to music, if the work I’m doing is condusive to music…but also, they are obvious enough that my family knows I am working when I have them on.
- Post a busy signal or sign. If you have some sort of wall or something nearby, you can post a Do Not Disturb sign. I found one online…but I’ll admit, I didn’t have a spot to put it where everyone in my family could see it and never actually enforced it…so this one wasn’t very effective for me.
- Put up a free standing barrier.If possible, put a screen or divider up around your workspace. I have a photo backdrop that I will sometimes use when I’m on calls. This options works really well. It would also be a good place to put #2.
- Accept interruptions. Changing the way you think about interruptions helps too. Try to let go of anxiety and frustration.
- Talk to your family. If you have an important project or work assignment that needs to get done…let your family know ahead of time. This way they will more likely to allow you the time to complete the project without interruptions.
- Gather your thoughts. At the same time, distractions have a real cost. One famous study found that it takes 23 minutes to get back on track. You may be able to speed up that process by taking a moment to assess your activities and plan your next moves.
Learning how to focus is a vital skill if you want to be productive and successful.
Now that you have some strategies for avoiding distractions…let’s chat about how can you make the most of the time you have! Here’s a few ideas!
- Single-tasking beats multitasking. Avoid fooling yourself. You’ll get more done and feel more relaxed if you focus on a single task at a time. It’s not easy for your brain to switch back and forth between different things. Set your priorities and complete them in order.
- Do most important activities early in the day. Your ability to focus deeply is greatest in the morning and decreases throughout the day. A few people also do well late at night if their day isn’t too demanding.
- Try setting a timer for 25 minutes and keep your attention entirely on performing a single task. My hubby told me about this Pomodoro technique of working intently for 25 minutes at a time. Once the 25 minutes is up…take a 5 minute break. Get up from your workspace…grab something to drink from the kitchen or head to the laundry room and move that load of clothes over to the dryer so you don’t forget about it later! You can read more about it HERE
- Remove distractions. Make life easier for yourself by removing as many distractions as possible. Put your phone away. Turn off the TV. Block any websites that you find compelling. Close any computer tabs you don’t need. Remove any distracting sounds. Turn off the radio. (unless of course music helps you be more productive!)
- Schedule your day. You don’t have to avoid your favorites distractions 100% of the time. Simply schedule time for those activities after your work has been completed for the day. Put a reasonable limit on how long you’ll spend on them. Scheduling my day is by far one of the most important things I do that help me have a productive day!
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is important for focus and energy. Your brain needs at least seven hours of sleep to be at its best. Have consistent times for going to bed and waking up.Try sleeping for seven hours each night for a week and rate your ability to focus. The following week try 7.5 hours. If you see an improvement, try eight hours. Keep going if necessary and find the optimum amount of sleep for you.
- Eat healthy foods. Your body and brain function better when you eat in a healthy manner. Your focus improves with a healthy diet. Start by eliminating everything you know isn’t good for you – one at a time will work.
- Exercise. Believe it or not…we all need to keep our bodies moving, especially when you have a job where you’re sitting behind a desk! Just 30 minutes 5 or 6 days a week is sufficient!
(If you need guidance on #7 and #8…feel free to check out the FREE guides I have available in my RESOURCE CENTER
Life is a never-ending series of distractions.
The most successful people are able to focus in spite of distractions. It takes practice to focus intently in the face of other things vying for our attention. Incorporate these tips into your daily schedule and you’ll feel more in control of your day and be more productive working from home.