Managing Distractions While Working from Home
Even if you work in the most stable and calm work environment, you will get distracted at least a couple of times each day. These distractions may come from colleagues, such as messy and confusing email messages with no point, gossip, or never-ending chat messages from collaboration apps.
However, for most of us, personal distractions are the most common disruption to your productivity, which only becomes more prevalent while we work from home. Here are some helpful tips for limiting those distractions and keeping you on task.
Choose an environment that limits self-imposed distractions:
When possible, try to find a setting that limits distractions in the environment around you. Working from the living room may appear to be a comfortable choice. However, there are many potential distractions, such as the television or co-inhabitants moving in and out of the area. While we may not all have the luxury of an office to turn to, try to find a quiet and calm place for your most critical tasks.
Schedule a time for checking email and completing action items:
If your role requires you to attend several hours of meetings each, it’s easy to let action items pile up. If you find yourself frequently stuck in back-to-back meetings, it is essential to block off some time from your calendar to respond to emails and complete your tasks. By blocking off your calendar for an hour to two each day, you can ensure that you will remember your deliverables!
As tempting as it may be to work on multiple work streams simultaneously, multitasking is essentially another form of distraction. It may seem like you are making progress on numerous fronts, but the work you are doing on one task is taking away from your productivity on the other. The best solution is to pick and complete one task at a time before moving on to the next. Depending on the time commitment for a given job, it may not be realistic to go from start to finish before working on another workstream. Instead, find yourself a good bookmark before you switch workstreams.
Schedule breaks and be productive:
The research is relatively unanimous that productivity begins to dip once you’ve worked on a task for 45 minutes or longer. You may feel that you are too busy to take a short break but taking 5 to 15 minutes every hour to step away from your computer will help increase your productivity for the rest of the day. However, don’t use this time to check your social media or your phone. Try meditating, doing a couple of bodyweight exercises, or taking a few minutes to visit the people you live with, such as your family or friends instead.
While you may never eliminate distractions during your workday, you can ensure you are maximizing your time by following these steps.