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A good example of a distraction. So right now, I am working at my kitchen table which is my home office at the moment. My Son comes down and decides that he will make himself a bite to eat while I am right in the middle of trying to write this article. How would you handle the situation? Generally, we are on the same schedule and do have lunch together every day around the same time but today happened to be different because of his schedule. I tried to make him see that by entering the kitchen and making his lunch in the same space where I was working was a distraction. This just annoyed him and he left saying under his breath that I should not be working in the kitchen. He is right of course and this takes me to the next topic of the dedicated work area.
Dedicated work area. This is definitely a luxury in most homes and especially small apartments but you should make the effort to find and make a dedicated work space. If there is someone in the house with you all day as is the case with my Son they need to be made to understand that while you are in this space it should be respected as a work area. I will be practicing what I am preaching as soon as possible so my Son can have his freedom back in the kitchen. Providing yourself a delineation between home and work space will help make it clear that only work activities should happen in the dedicated work area. It is important to have boundaries and expectations when it comes to your work area. Now that you have your dedicated work area it is a good idea to establish your work hours.
Establishing your work hours. It is your work day, so instead of working haphazardly through the day set up your work hours. I generally start my day somewhere in the area of 10:00 am as I am involved with other matters in the home until then. I generally break for lunch around noon or 1:00 pm and take an hour for lunch. After lunch I generally work until 4:00 – 5:00 pm. So, I would say, I work from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with an hour for lunch. There will be days that I will start earlier or finish later but at least deciding on a quitting time is helpful. Once you have your time set the day becomes more structured around what you are trying to accomplish.
Dressing for success. Get out of your PJ’s and sweat pants! Wearing these types of clothes make you feel like you are not really working and this will make you prone to distractions. Make it a point to get dressed every day as what you wear in your office has a direct impact on your work performance and productivity.
Work at another location. Besides the distractions of working from a home-based office it can sometimes get a little lonely. I know that when I started working from home I left the hustle and bustle of running an office of 60 people to being home alone. It was a little disconcerting at first. My local coffee shop became a second office and without the distractions of home and family, I found myself more motivated. It was also easier to focus on the task at hand and I definitely got more accomplished. It was also nice being around other people and not feeling so isolated.
Act as if you are going to work. This is a fun tip given to me by a friend. He told me that in order to fight off the distractions of working from home he fooled himself into thinking that he actually went to work somewhere else. He established a routine just like the one he had when he worked in an office. He would get up every day at the same time and perform his personal grooming and get dressed for work. He would actually leave his apartment, get in his car and drive somewhere. He would arrive back at his apartment and begin his work day as if he had gone to work. He did this until he became disciplined enough to work in his home office.
Conclusions and observations. Working from home is not for everyone. You have to be a disciplined person who is able to tune out the distractions while being motivated, focused and able to be productive. You also need to be a good communicator and let your family, friends and neighbors know your goals and expectations about your work day. Don’t forget to reward yourself for all of your efforts. Doesn’t a cookie sound good right about now?