How to Stay Focused with Work-at-Home

Millions of people are now in work-at-home situations. Some work at home because they are self-employed, while others are home-based as part of their regular job. As many are finding out, work at home doesn’t necessarily eliminate the problems we face while working in an office. It just creates different ones. In order to be successful in a work-at-home venture, you need to be able to take control over those problems.

Here’s some tips to help you do that.

Create a quiet space

The first order of business is to create a dedicated workspace, and preferably one that is very quiet. If you’re going to create a work-at-home situation, a peaceful work environment is a must.

Sometimes you can manage this by using a corner of your bedroom or even your living room if no one else in the household is home during the day. But more often, you need to have a private office to get the seclusion that you need to get your work done.

Set your priorities

If it is difficult to set priorities in an office environment it will be even harder at home. There’s simply more distractions at home than there are at the office. While it’s true that co-workers can be distracting, the one advantage is that they are all (mostly) working. Yes, they can be distracting, but they can also help you to get into the workflow.

At home the distractions will be worse, and none will be conducive to a productive working environment. Personal phone calls, personal emails, family members at home needing attention and even a ringing doorbell or a barking dog can change your day. If you haven’t worked at home for very long, is easier than you think to get distracted by any of these.

For this reason, it is critical that you prioritize each workday. You’ll need to do your most important jobs early in the day to be sure that you at least get those done. Less important tasks can be held until later in the day, or even pushed into the next day if you’re too busy. You must be absolutely focused on completing your primary job functions each and every day, and never permit home based distractions to take you away from them.

Establish “quiet time”

Since you’re working where you also live, it will be virtually impossible to block out all distractions. But as part of your work prioritization, you should establish a quiet time during each day when you will complete your major job functions. During this time you should not accept any distractions from any sources. The entire success of your work-at-home venture may ride on your ability to be absolutely religious about your quiet time.

Be intentional about blocking out personal distractions

People often want to work at home so that they can achieve a better blend of work and personal life. While that is possible, it also opens up the chance that personal distractions will overtake your day. There are always friends and family members who have something important they want to discuss, or need your help to take care of. There are also emails, news stories or even events taking place in the neighborhood that can easily distract from your work.

“Creative avoidance”–those times when we’re looking for distractions that take us away from we need to do–are just easier to come by when you work at home. But all of that has to be avoided with a major blocking effort.

Set boundaries with members of your household

Your home isn’t just a place were you live, it’s also the place where other members of your family live. Some of them will be around at least some of the time. When they are they can be the biggest distractions.

You need to set boundaries with your family members from the very beginning of your work-at-home experience. Don’t wait six months to do this – once set, behavior patterns are very difficult to reverse. Your family members need to understand that when you are at your desk or in your office, you are at work in much the same way you would be if you commuted to a job each day.

Work at home arrangements can be more difficult than working in a remote office. Because you also live in your home, separating work from your personal life will be much more difficult. Take control early so you can find ways to preserve your work activities no matter what else is going on in your home.

Do you work at home? If so what do you do maintain production?

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  • krantcents

    I work at home with my blog in a separate office. I have no distractions, but I am working on being more effective.

  • Rob

    Good tips! I stay the most focused by removing distractions and setting time limits for each task. I also try to make a TO-DO list before each day. That helps me to stay focused.

    • Kevin

      Hi Rob–I don’t know how I missed the to-do list! I use them every day and have been for years. Thanks for “back me up”!