Working from home carries a number of challenges that you won't find in an office setting. You need to set up some strategies for avoiding distractions when working from home.
The phone rings, diapers need to be changed, and neighbors pop in unannounced. Some days it feels like the world is conspiring against you when you're trying to get through some major projects. Nothing saps your motivation more than having just been interrupted to put a band aid on a skinned knee, followed by a phone call from a relative who absolutely needs to talk to you for 15 minutes. Here's some advice that can help you out.
Your Worst Enemy
Admit it to yourself. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to distractions while working at home. You pause to stare at something out the window. You check your Twitter account and read the news headlines. You pace around the house while telling yourself that you're "just thinking" for a few minutes.
You might want to consider rearranging your home office. If your desk faces out a window, move it so it faces a blank wall. Pull the blinds shut while you're working so you're not tempted to watch the traffic rolling by. Shut off your instant messaging programs if you don't use them for work. Set up little rewards for yourself, so you can work towards a goal if you finish all your projects.
The Phone That Won't Stop Ringing
If you have a lot of friends and family members, you might get interrupted by a lot of frivolous phone calls. Or maybe you have just one friend who calls a lot. Keep a separate phone line for your home business, and set clear boundaries with these people. Tell them they can only contact you on the business phone line if it's an emergency. Then if you need to, take your home phone off the hook or put the ringer on silent.
Your Children Need You
This one can be unavoidable. If you and your spouse work together, you might have to handle the children in shifts, especially in the summertime. Set them up with a lot of games or educational projects that they can do while you're working. Another option is to have them perform small tasks for the business. They'll get to spend more time with you that way, and they can learn some skills that they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The Open Door Policy
This one is simple. If you're not too heavily involved in a project at the moment and you don't mind minor interruptions, leave the door to your home office open. Let the family know that they're always welcome to interrupt if the door is open. On the other hand, if the door is closed, let them know that you're not to be interrupted (unless there's a fire or some other emergency).
Working from home can be lonely at times. You have to set boundaries with friends and family, and stick to them. Learning to avoid distractions while working from home is a great way to increase your productivity. This can lead to a happier home overall, once everyone gets used to your system.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.