How to avoid distractions and get more done when working from home

Wednesday, 4th April 2018, 4:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th April 2018, 4:29 pm
There are many distractions when working from home - here's how to make the most of your time (Photo: Shutterstock)

Whether you are self-employed or in a career with the freedom to work remotely, more and more of us are getting work done from home these days.

While working from home has its benefits, it also comes with a fair few pitfalls that can ultimately affect your productivity.

Here are our top tips on how to make the most of your day when working remotely.

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Get up (reasonably) early

Cutting a commute out of your day might save you precious minutes or even hours, but it doesn't necessarily mean you should spend all of that extra time sleeping in.

Instead of rolling out of bed and straight into work mode, try to eat breakfast and enjoy some moments to yourself before you knuckle down - it will stop you from being groggy and help you to focus.

Make sure you have the tools you need

If your internet connection at home is unreliable, or if your laptop is too slow to handle your workload, you should ideally address these issues before you start working remotely.

It's always worth having a plan B, just in case something stops working unexpectedly. For example, if your internet goes down, refer to your list of nearby cafes or libraries with reliable connections.

Work at a desk or table where possible

While being able to work from your bed or sofa might sound luxurious, it's not great for your concentration - or your back.

If you can, work from a desk or table to help your posture and to keep you in 'work mode'.

Try to work from a desk or table if you can - it is better for your concentration and your back (Photo: Shutterstock)

Minimise distractions

There are distractions everywhere, even in an office, but it's worth taking steps to minimise your exposure to the ones you can control when working from home.

Good examples of this include politely reminding family members or housemates that you are busy working and can't stop to chat, and putting your mobile phone on 'do not disturb' mode.

Turn the TV off if it sidetracks you while you're working. Listen to music or the radio quietly to block out outside noise, or turn them off if they are distracting.

Take structured breaks

You would take breaks in a traditional work setting, so make sure to reward yourself in the same way when working from home.

Where possible, step away from your computer screen while eating lunch, and even try to get a bit of fresh air if you can.

Stretch your legs and allow yourself to make the odd cup of tea throughout the day (as you would in an office setting), but don't cut yourself too much slack either - you still have to get things done.

Only focus on work-related tasks

While at home, it's tempting to try to multitask and get a little bit of housework done while still doing your job.

Even though throwing in a load of washing or doing a few dishes might not take you away from your work station for long, it still distracts you from the task at hand, and puts you in a different mindset than you would be in your workplace.

Use a timer to stay on track

If you're really struggling to stay on task while working from home, try using a timer to 'train' yourself to focus.

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management method that uses a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals, separated by short breaks. Using this practice - or a version of it - could help to stop your mind wandering.

Consider blocking social media access

Many of us are essentially addicted to social media, and it is even more tempting to browse your accounts when nobody is around to see you doing it.

If you find yourself regularly opening up Facebook or Twitter on your computer when you should be working, try downloading a browser plug-in which will block your access to these websites for a certain amount of time so you can focus.

Make an effort to communicate

Working from home can be isolating, so make sure to check in with your team via phone or an online messaging platform like Slack.

As well as giving you a boost, these communications can help you to stay up to date with anything you might miss while out of the office.

If you are a freelancer or work alone all the time, you can connect with others in similar situations online or in person at networking groups.

Social media is a huge distraction, but downloading a timed website blocker could help you to stay on track (Photo: Shutterstock)

Stick to office hours

Whatever your normal working hours are, try your best to stick to them while working from home.

It might be tempting to slack off a little in the afternoon when you know you can work past 5pm to finish your tasks, but you'll kick yourself when everyone else signs off for the day.

For anyone who chooses their own hours, make sure to define your working hours and stop yourself from working into the wee hours.

Hold yourself accountable

Let's face it, you are an adult, and few employers or freelance clients will check up on you constantly if you are working remotely.

Be your own boss, stick to your plan for the day and hold yourself accountable so that you can be proud of what you have achieved.