If you work from home daily, frequently or occasionally, that often means you need to take care of some personal responsibilities, which compelled you to not go to the ever energetic team of yours. Or otherwise, your profession is of a solopreneur or a freelancer, which does not need a team to go to and work with.
With work from home comes a heavy-duty responsibility of being productive. Maintaining productivity for 9 hours a day while you are fulfilling that personal responsibility is an ardent task especially when the responsibility is an energetic kid or a needy elder. Isn’t it?
So, here are 7 effective ways to avoid the distractions and optimize your productivity and parallelly fulfill that personal task.
1. Fix a slot for the personal work
Many of us work from home occasionally when home or family needs us. In that case, we are not adapted to working with sharp productivity because we are consumed in the mundane personal things.
First, if you have opted to connect remotely for a personal need, plan your schedule a day before or at least 2-3 hours prior to your work commences. Set out the time when you are not available and keep the manager and team informed. Post them a mail or any similar communication so that people would not try to reach you during this span. Do not stretch your off hours unless urgent. Extending the personal time by one hour is agreeable but beyond that shows your mismanagement.
Secondly, if you have taken work from home to attend a sick person or a guest, you might as well stretch your day a little in the evening to compensate. If you are sick, we don’t advise working remotely. Rest is what you need not a work from home.
If working remotely is your regular routine as either a full-time employee or a freelancer, you know best about your productive hours. So, keep your supervisor and team or clients informed about your calendar. Full-time work from home needs a lot more planning according to your availability.
2. Start early
When you foresee to get busy during the core working hours due to a personal need, you can plan to start early. Chances are, you are the only one connected to the work environment or there are fewer colleagues needing your attention in the morning hours. A core time in the first hour of a workday is expended over the mailbox. Follow prioritization rules of 4Ds to utilize these few silent hours of the day to get a big chunk of your work done. All you need is get up an hour early.
I had the habit to start early during my remote-connected days in the day job, sometimes as early as 8 AM when no one was online and I could extract the maximum productivity in initial 2-3 hours, curbing every personal need. Later, I could easily hop to my personal work without anyone raising a finger at my absence.
3. Compartmentalize the work setup
There will be numerous disturbances when you are a flex worker. Often, you get an urge to sit with your spouse or kid to spend some quality time. But, because you are remotely connected, you have to be cautious to spend time wisely. Compartmentalize your work setup and sit in a quiet space free of disturbances where the hum of roads and chattering would not annoy your work. Set up ground rules for the family especially children about when they can interrupt you and when you are off limits.
If you have an allotted place to work, very well. If not, just get a small foldable table and a chair and sit down with your laptop to get on with the job. It is always good to start fresh in decent clothes and combed hair, not in your nightwear, in a more pro way. This would give a feel of regular work not like socializing virtually. Make the environment office-like to work. This definitely helps to avoid any distraction, especially the nonphysical diversion—your own mind.
You might like reading this work-life balance article too.
4. Curb the lust of TV and Internet
This is the biggest slayer of your productivity when you connect remotely. People, after all, don’t fret over excess TV time for any silly reason. And the social media, the flow of constant news and events buzzing out of your phone will kill your time and you would not realize where your working day went.
Switch off the TV. Suppress any urge to watch Netflix and for this, no hard work is needed. Just sit silently at your workplace and concentrate. Of course, getting rid of the social media on the laptop is tricky. As for the phone, you need to follow simple strategies explained in the book Hooked. Set a longer password, keep it in a drawer, not next to your laptop or even in another room if possible. Following these, you would not be lured to check your social media updates often. There are plenty of ways to disable the pop-ups in your phone.
While for many, music is a stress buster but for me, it’s a distraction at times. Once I start playing songs online, I start fidgeting to add more of my favorites and search more of them and then the list goes on. And if I finalize the list successfully, I keep on clicking next and it is already a loss of thirty productive minutes. Well, distractions will knock you off in all shapes and forms, this one is shapeless though.
5. Avoid multitasking
Yes, however great it sounds to multitask, but not when you are working from home. Multitasking is a misnomer. Working remotely needs lots of concentration at work especially when you have people around. Multitasking means juggling between too many tasks and that needs high energy. Not that you are low on energy working remotely but you are preoccupied with some personal agenda in some corner of your mind already. It is not the same conducive environment of the office with the sounds of keystrokes, calls going around and with professionals juggling in and out of the meeting rooms.
Too many tasks in hand only clog your mind with an overwhelming to-do list marring your capability to take the decisions. Hence, when you connect from home to work, try to reduce your work agenda for the day. Or prioritize.
6. Plan ahead
Things like power outage, internet breakdown—although rare—do happen. Don’t they? And that too at the most crucial time. So arrange for a generator or an inverter backup at your home, keep devices well charged to sustain a minimum of two hours outage. For internet outages, make alternate arrangements such as connectivity with your phone.
Nowadays, there is an option of co-sharing workspaces too which are fully equipped with facilities like a regular office. You can use such spaces if you often work from home and face electricity and Wi-Fi disruptions. You can also have a backup place like a coffee shop, which would let you sit and work for a mere coffee order.
7. Other offenders
Most of the time, food runs in the mind when we are at home leaving us munching snacks, fixing the dose of caffeine and eating at the work table. Such habits are going to make you lethargic and hamper your productivity. Eat when it is the right time, away from the workspace preferably in the dining area.
Take timely breaks during the work. While working from offices, we go for lunch and snacks, for a chat or stroll with colleagues and friends. We often frequent to the coffee vending machine. That gives our body, a much needed break. But when we work secluded, we forget this aspect. Drink ample of water during work hours as a preventive tip. Do I need to tell you more?
Knowing your distractions in advance and mitigating them is another key. You know, children will come back from school at 4 PM and create an uproar. So, plan accordingly.
Not just work aesthetics, you should plan for the meetings and your availability. Make sure to get arrangements for the crucial meetings beforehand like keeping a desk phone or having a headset around. Else, you would be distracted setting up the environment just before the call. This will hamper your productivity while working from home.
There is a flip side of working remotely especially for full-time employees. They are expected to work on stretched schedules. This hampers the next workday schedule. Avoid it.
Hoping that following these ideas to slay the distractions while working from home will not only help you to gain high productivity but also will not spoil your reputation in the team as a flex employee.