Many people dream about escaping the drudgery of office life and working from home, but the truth is, remote work has its own kind of drudgery – and some serious challenges. The key to success is understanding and dealing with some of the most common distractions you’ll face when working remotely. Here’s how to get started.
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1. Create a Customized Workspace.
Having an organized, functional workspace at home is key to your success, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to replicate the setup you’ve become accustomed to at the office. This is your opportunity to customize a space for the way you work best – and that’s one of the great benefits of working from home.
Think about what you have liked about former workspaces – and what you didn’t. Perhaps you found yourself most productive when you had a window beside your desk, and that bright colors inspire you. Conversely, you may remember a past job where bad lighting and an uncomfortable desk chair sapped your creativity.
Now take these lessons from your office days and use them to create a space where you’ll genuinely look forward to working. Even if your “office” is just a corner of the dining room, take the time to make it feel like a defined, truly personalized space where you can focus on your work.
2. Develop a Plan for Dealing With Distractions
There are plenty of distractions in a traditional office: chatty co-workers, office gossip, birthday cupcakes in the break room. But working from home presents a whole new set of challenges – particularly if you don’t live alone. Roommates and spouses, children, and pets can quickly break your concentration, not to mention the siren call of the refrigerator and a sunny, 70-degree day.
The best way to avoid veering off track is to be proactive about distractions. You’ll very quickly recognize where your weaknesses are, and you’ll need to develop a plan for dealing with them before they get the best of you.
For instance, you may not be able to resist your pup’s requests to play in the yard. While it would be fine to take a break for just a few minutes, several such breaks throughout the day could add up to an hour or more. To keep him occupied throughout the day, consider wearing him out at the dog park in the morning and investing in a few interactive toys that will keep him busy when you need to focus on work.
Are you distracted by chores? Make more of an effort to complete them over the weekend. Is snacking a problem? Time to rethink your grocery shopping habits. Are you spending too much time on social media? Try using an app like StayFocused or SelfControl to reel in your surfing. There’s a way to deal with every kind of distraction – you just have to make the effort.
3. Cultivate a Support Staff
Wait – a “staff” is exactly what you’re hoping to distance yourself from, right? Wrong. Besides working hard to maintain a remote relationship with your co-workers, you’ll need to create your own support staff at home. Make sure that anyone you live with respects your workspace and hours. A great way to do this is by imposing a few rules. For instance, even young children can learn that if your office door is closed, you’re not to be disturbed. Be clear about regular meeting times, and share when you have a challenging project on the horizon. If everyone has a general sense of your schedule, they’ll be more likely to respect it.
4. Stick to a Schedule
Whether your employer requires you to be at your desk between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or you’re allowed to set your own hours, it’s important to stick to a schedule. If your employer mandates the timing, you simply have to follow the rules. The danger comes when you have the power of creating your own schedule – that’s when things can get sticky fast. Take the time to assess your workload as well as your habits and map out a plan that will optimize your efficiency. If you’re most productive in the morning, feel free to front-load your day. This could allow you to take a long break mid-day, or even finish up in the early afternoon. Keep in mind that creating a strict schedule and sticking to it can give you more freedom and flexibility with the rest of your day.
Do you have any tried and true tips for working from home? Please share them in the comments, or join the discussion on Twitter!