Working from home has its benefits, but at the same time, the distractions are . Unexpected visitors, phone calls, sometimes relatives, sudden yearnings for a snack or the tenth cup of tea can seriously hinder your productivity. Staying focused and motivated can be a real struggle. Is there anything you can do to put a stop to the endless interruptions and/or be more effective at work?
Dealing with distractions
Let others know
If you need to focus on your work, let others know that they shouldn’t bother you … unless it’s something really important. If you don’t communicate your needs clearly, you will end up being distracted all the time. Explain to them, that once they let you work in peace and quiet, you’ll be done sooner.
Set your own deadlines
A lot of people work more effectively under pressure. If this sounds like you, perhaps you could think about giving yourself your own deadlines. They should be short and realistic, but the real trick is to not keep them to yourself. If you’re the only person who knows about your self-assigned deadlines, you won’t feel the pressure. Otherwise, you will only end up cheating yourself.
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
Many appreciate the ability to work in the comfort of their own home. The thing is, it’s not much of a comfort, especially if your neighbors are just redecorating. There are many sounds that can distract you: phones calling, coffee maker buzzing, drill at the neighbor’s, kids playing, street works and so on. However, equipped with proper headphones and/or the right music, you can defend yourself against unwanted noise, improve your mood and focus on your work.
Limit e-mail checking
Although e-mail is an extremely useful invention, it is also one of the biggest distractions we face at work, with some of us spending long hours reading and answering e-mails every day.
That’s why it’s not a bad idea to check your inbox and respond to emails in periods of low productivity. During the day there are hours when you work most efficiently. Some people work best in the morning, others – late at night. Plan to check your mailbox during the less productive periods, keeping the peak hours for creative, high-quality work.
Put a curb on social media
Browsing through social media sites can be painfully addictive these days. Do you ever find yourself taking a pause from work to “just check something” and end up getting fully distracted realizing it’s been an hour? What can you do?
Surely these constant notifications won’t be much help here. It seems reasonable to turn them off (at least temporarily), or log out of such websites altogether during the working hours. Another way to put a stop to this sort of distractions is to install a plugin in your browser that blocks certain sites for a specified amount of time.
Does it often happen that just when you’re in the middle of something, you suddenly remember about million other things that need to be taken care of? Many people find that small task often gets in the way of completing bigger, more important ones.
It’s important to realize that your mind often subconsciously avoids doing things that are tedious, or challenging, and makes you procrastinate. A good way to deal with this, is to keep a prioritized to-do-list, or an organizer. That way you can note everything down and get rid of these intrusive and distracting thoughts when you’re supposed to focus.
Take effective breaks
It is a common assumption that taking breaks will distract you and derail your work. It turns out, however, that the opposite is true. A study from University of Illinois suggests that short breaks actually boost your ability to stay concentrated on a long task. Prolonged attention to a single activity, on the other hand, causes a drop in your performance. It is because our brains seem to be hard-wired to detect change.
The researchers suggest imposing short breaks every now and then. You could try out the so called Pomodoro technique, in which you treat yourself with a 5-minute break after solid 25 minutes of work. Naturally, the 25 minutes is only a suggestion – see for yourself what interval works best for you.