While Working From Home

The number of people working online has soared massively in the past few years and is projected to grow even further in the foreseeable future. With this growing number, it may seem that working remotely is much easier than working in an actual office.

That is not exactly the case as remote work also poses its own sets of problems, especially when it comes to workers facing numerous distractions on a daily basis.

Working from home brings numerous benefits but also brings countless disadvantages, especially when it comes to dealing with distractions. With the help of the 10 following suggestions, rest assured that you can manage to overcome all of your distractions and stay focused on the job at hand. 

1. Create a home office

Nothing can be more distracting than working in an area where numerous non-work related items are in your vicinity. Additionally, working in areas such as the living room or kitchen where people pass by multiple times in a single day will never work wonders for your productivity. That is the reason why setting up a work from home office is the best option for you so that you will able to focus on work and finish all of your tasks on time. If creating a home office is not plausible due to the limited space in your home, you may also want to go to public working spaces and get work done there. These public spaces include coffee shops, coworking spaces, or even public libraries.

When setting up a home office, remember that you don’t need to do some major renovations in your house which can be very costly. A home office can be as simple as placing a desk and a chair in an area conducive to working. You can even work in your own bedroom as long as people don’t regularly go inside and disturb you while working. Although it’s not necessary, you may also want to consider purchasing hardware such as Wi-Fi routers, Ethernet cables, microphones, or webcams to ensure a continuous and undisturbed work from home setup. 

2. Have a to-do list

Having a to-do list or calendar is something that most workers do whether it is working remotely or in an office. With this list, you will be able to map out all your tasks for the week or month and focus on the ones that take time to accomplish. Additionally, by placing “urgent” tasks high on your priority list you’ll be able to finish them faster. You can even get back on these tasks in your spare time or when you’ve finished other tasks for the day. 

In addition of having a to-do list is that you can also use it as an avenue to write down all distracting thoughts, also called a “brain dump area.” Just make sure to separate the tasks you’re actually going to work on and not get too carried away with writing other unimportant stuff. If this is not applicable, you can always write down personal tasks on another sheet of paper or notebook.

3. Play background music

Music is always a great way to keep stress levels down. Some even use it to be more productive in their work. If you’ve been limited to listening to music in your headphones while working in an office, you can switch to listening to tunes from your speaker when working from home or have Google Play, or Alexa. As long as you don’t disturb other people in the household, you can adjust the volume to the highest possible setting. 

Multiple studies have cited that around 79% of employees boost their personal productivity while listening to music. In another study conducted in 2016, 59% of individuals said that listening to music while working greatly improves their mental well-being. 

4. Dress for work

Although a good number of people like to work in their pajamas while working at home, this may not be applicable to you especially if you’re constantly distracted. Dressing up as you would when going to the office will keep you focused throughout the day and will even give you a little bit of energy or confidence boost. 

Dressing up doesn’t have to mean using the suit/blazer and leather pants that have been collecting dust in your closet. Wearing simple dress shirt and pair of slacks  will do, something not too casual but also something not too formal. Additionally, dressing up also relates to your personal hygiene and it’s never advisable to work for eight hours without even changing your clothes or taking a bath.

5. Hide all non-essential electronic devices

It has come to a point where it has become rare to see someone who doesn’t own or use a smartphone, tablet, and computer. With the number of functions these devices can do (oftentimes simultaneously) such as sending messages, listening to music, watching videos, playing games, and browsing the Internet just to name a few, it’s not surprising that people hold on to their phones or tablets 24/7.

With this, electronic devices have become some of the top distractions when working from home. It shouldn’t be a problem if you set them aside, but if you’re always checking your phone every few minutes then drastic measures need to be done. One practical option is to lock them away or place them in a room where you can’t easily access.  In case of emergency situations, give out contact details that are attached to your work such as an email address or Zoom/Google ID.           

6. Prepare meals ahead of time

Life can be very tough for a remote employee who’s also cooking for their respective families. Although cooking can be a fun and relaxing activity, it can become a stressful one very quickly when you’re also doing other things at the same time, such as beating dozens of work-related deadlines. The best option is to prepare all of the meals ahead of time, preferably the meals the entire family will be eating for the whole day. Also, prepare meals when you’re living by yourself; cooking saves you a lot of money compared to constantly purchasing from restaurants online.      

If you never have free time from your work from home schedule, try preparing easy-to-cook dishes and hold out the more sumptuous and complex dishes during weekends or your free time. There are hundreds of dozens you can cook in less than 30 minutes and with only very few ingredients. Alternatively, you can also go for healthier recipes if you plan on losing weight or looking for healthier options. Salads and low-fat sandwiches as well as dishes revolving around chicken or fish are some options that you can consider.    

7. Create a schedule for your “co-workers”

If you’re not living alone, then you may have some work from home co-workers that may have to deal with. These “co-workers” can either be family members or roommates, people you obviously don’t work with but are in your constant presence every day. Unfortunately, they can be office distractions at times especially the children and senior adults. Although you have a responsibility to take care of them (or give them your full attention), you also have a responsibility to finish all of your work-related tasks. If you’re always being disturbed by other people, then it’s time to create a plan to save not just your job but also your mental health. 

What you can do here is create a flexible work schedule so that you can finish your work responsibilities and attend to your house companions at the same time. If you’re working for around 9 to 10 hours every day, schedule some family time after work even it’s for only a few hours. You can always have more time during weekends or on holidays. If you’re attending to a sickly parent or a child attending online classes, also create a schedule on when you can check on them within the day. This can be made easier if there are other people living in the household. Hiring a caregiver and/or tutor is also an option but it can be very pricey.               

8. Leave the house

People working at home need a break once in a while. Leaving the house for a few minutes is a great way to relieve the stress and take your mind off of work (as well as other home office distractions). Leaving the work can either pertain to walking around the neighbourhood, going to the nearest store and buying some food or household items, or simply taking in sunshine while standing outside your doorstep. These few minutes of relaxation may not completely get rid of all of the stress, but it is very helpful for your mental and physical health.

You can even leave the house once you’ve finished all of your work for the day, just make sure to return home just in time to punch out and to accomplish a quick end-of-day report. You should be careful of avoiding distractions when going out; doing activities that you’ll completely forget other tasks that are still waiting at home. Worst case scenario is that you’ll be bombarded with tasks while you’re gone, resulting in a mountain of tasks you’ll have to catch up which might result in unnecessary overtime work.      

9. Get organized

A messy workstation will only add to your distractions and will delay whatever work you want to get accomplished. To help you remove distractions from your home workspace, you can simply purchase a desk organizer that can segregate all your office equipment such as envelopes, notebooks, pens, and other supplies. Desk organizers come in different shapes and sizes so purchase something that can effectively and neatly arrange all of your stuff.

Another way to get organized is to get rid of all your tangible supplies and utilize a cloud-based storage system. Instead of worrying about some paperwork that you have thrown away, you can now easily store, access, and edit these files online. You also don’t need to spend a single dollar to use this software, among which include Google Drive, Dropbox, Tresorit, and pCloud, among many others.      

10. Ask for help

There’s no shame in asking for help when you feel like you’re bombarded with not just work tasks but also house responsibilities. Remember that the goal is to eliminate all distractions while working remotely, so if you believe asking for help can improve your focus in the long run then no one should be stopping you. Asking for help can either pertain to informing a colleague that you need help finishing a certain task or it can also mean hiring someone to help you with the household chores. 

As previously mentioned, hiring a professional, whether it is a caregiver for your senior family member or a tutor for your child, can be costly but it doesn’t have to be that way if you can manage to negotiate a price. You can even ask a relative or friend if they can help out as they are qualified. Your mind and body can only take so much pressure so ask for help when you finally need it. 

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