Do you work from home? Whether you’re a freelancer or find it necessary to work from home for other reasons, distractions are one of the biggest hindrances to getting quality work done.
How many things clamor for your attention just as you sit down at your desk to begin your day?
Or have you ever noticed how a pressing deadline can reveal weaknesses in how self-disciplined you are? It makes you a little more conscious of how many times you raid the kitchen for a snack, fold laundry, or walk out to the mailbox.
Then let’s not forget about the desk straightening, and the sudden need to vacuum the dust bunnies underfoot. And the refrigerator - just look at how dirty it is! It needs to be cleaned out. Right now, of course.
What does one do when faced with so many distractions? Here are a few things that I've found helpful.
Ignore the Phone
Ignore it, whether cell or landline. If you can’t completely turn the ringer off, at least screen calls and resist the temptation to “take one quick call”. We all know what that can turn into – not getting the necessary work done. There’s really no reason to take calls while you’re working. You are, after all, working, and anyone who’s calling, unless it’s an emergency or work related, can wait to speak to you later.
As a freelancer, I set aside specific working hours each day and don't answer the phone during that time. I’ve learned the hard way; too many calls can hijack the workday.
Dismiss the Chores
I'm not saying that we should ditch housework altogether, but most things can wait. If it helps your mindset, as you set your “working hours”, allow space before work begins to throw a load of laundry in or to empty the dishwasher and straighten up the kitchen.
The sun will still rise tomorrow if the carpet doesn't get vacuumed today. But we won't get paid if we miss a deadline because we got sidetracked chasing cobwebs.
Reschedule the “Must-Do-Now” Distractions
This can be a challenge, for sure. The bookshelves that scream to be alphabetized? Tell them to hush. The overflowing file cabinet that's mocking you from the corner of the room? Don't stress over it. They will all be there tomorrow.
Close the Open Windows
The internet is by far my biggest distraction, like a tangent waiting to happen. I get WAY more done if I close all my open windows, other than any necessary-for-work ones.
Budget Time Spent on Social Media
While online in your working or spare time, where is most of your time spent? It helps to assess this, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Pinterest, or another site. Once you get a better picture of what occupies your time, set reasonable time limits.
Setting little "deadlines", where you don’t hop onto social media sites until you finish a task, report, etc., can help you work more efficiently. Those cute puppy pictures your friend keeps sharing on Facebook? Yeah, you can check them out later. They’ll still be there, plus many more, most likely.
Big tasks, little tasks, and everything in between all clamor for attention. Weigh things in order of importance. Consider which items are a must for the day, and go from there. When in doubt, pick an item, do it, and cross it off the list. Voila! Progress.
Set goals, daily, weekly, hourly, or whatever works best for you. Without a target, we wander aimlessly and get little done. Don’t stress over this. It may take time for you to figure out how to set the goals for the work you’re doing. But you’ll figure it out. And then those goals will be that target you need to get all your work done.
Even self-imposed deadlines can motivate you to get the job done. Along the way, you’re building good habits, self-discipline, and productivity. That feeling of accomplishment after meeting a deadline? Absolutely priceless.
Utilize Unproductive Time
I heard Roger Palms, author and former editor of "Decision Magazine", speak at a conference years ago. He stressed the importance of taking advantage of unused time. We aren't always aware of it - five minutes here, ten minutes there - while waiting for a call or before leaving for an appointment, etc. Looking for and using these stretches gives us a huge advantage.
I call these potentially productive stretches pockets of time, and use them for many things like to write a paragraph or two, make a quick call, do internet research, and so on. This unused time provides opportunities to chip away at the to-do list for each day.
Keep Moving Forward
Don’t let the distractions get you down. Just because filtering out distractions can be an ongoing thing; we can get better at handling them. By being aware of them and building good habits, we can achieve results and be productive.
How do we reach any destination? By taking one step at a time. With a good balance of determination, self-discipline, and flexibility, our work can stay on track.
Image one - Pexels
Image two - Pexels
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