Anyone who’s ever worked from home will know how difficult it can be not to let random distractions completely stop you from working. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of a particularly difficult project proposal or piece of website copy only for a cat to start yowling outside and boom – concentration completely broken. This is just one of the many perils of working from home (although there are plenty of good things too!).
With just a little know-how and willpower, though, you can stop yourself from being distracted and get down to some serious work without noticing every creaking pipe or rustling leaf. Here are 5 simple tips we’ve found effective for staying on task while working from home.
Take regular breaks
A lot of people seriously undervalue taking regular breaks if they’re home workers. We’re not just talking about ten minutes here or there to boil the kettle or let the cat out. We mean lengthy breaks of a couple of hours. It might even be a good idea to book yourself a “day off” and go out to do the things you love. Has it been a while since you went on a shopping spree? Dip into your bank account (or, if it’s before payday, look into a good quality personal loan) and treat yourself. Take your family (or yourself) out for a meal, go watch a movie, or do something else that doesn’t involve work. That way, when you come back to your task, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to focus again.
Look into soundproofing
There are a number of ways in which you can effectively soundproof a home office, and some of them won’t break the bank. One of the most prominent and repetitive sources of distraction in a home office is noise: noise from the outside world, noise from the inside world, and noise from adjacent rooms. In order for you to focus and get as much work done as you possibly can, you really need to insulate yourself from sound to as much of a degree as you can. Some of the ways in which you can soundproof an office include fiberglass insulation, plugging holes, dampening echoes with rugs or other soft surfaces and using sound-absorbing decoration material.
Listen to music
This might not be an option for everyone, but an effective way to keep yourself on track while you’re working at home is to listen to music. Music with lyrics and other distracting material is strongly discouraged; the music is, after all, an accompaniment to your job, not a replacement for it. Recommended listening includes classical music, ambient synthesiser music and natural sounds. Your music should be interesting enough that it doesn’t make you want to go to sleep, but it shouldn’t be so interesting that you decide you want to stop working and listen instead! If music doesn’t work, try the relaxing sound of rain or wind blowing through the trees. Make sure to invest in a high-quality pair of headphones to make this process more satisfying.
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you’ve tried every possible way to keep yourself isolated from distractions and it’s just not working, then try meeting them head-on. If you know you’re fighting a losing battle, then there’s very little point in keeping on fighting; instead, try simply tuning out the frequencies of the noises that are distracting you. This will take work, and won’t initially pay dividends. You’ll keep noticing that cat scratching at your door, that dog barking outside or that group of kids playing. Eventually, though, your brain will accept these sounds as part of the outdoor tapestry of noise that’s a regular fixture in your office, and you’ll be able to tune it out blissfully.
This should be obvious, but if you’re looking to not be distracted while you’re working then do not distract yourself. Don’t idly scroll through Facebook when you should be writing, don’t tweet about how difficult it is to work from home and don’t comment on your friend’s Insta post about their incredible holiday. Set yourself time to work and ensure that during that time, you are working and doing nothing else. If you need to get up during your work time to make some coffee or eat, then do so, but take headphones with you so you don’t get distracted along the way. Stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. There’s enough to distract you in the outside world, so don’t create your own distractions unnecessarily.
These are just 5 of the ways we’ve found to reduce distractions while working and keep yourself on track. Did we miss anything? Do you have any home tips to share with us? Let us know!