Working from home is a wonderful thing. You get to set your own hours, you don’t have to leave the house on cold, dark days, or battle rush-hour traffic on your way to an office. Despite all these bonuses, there can be a lot of distractions and cybersecurity risks of working from home that you don’t experience in an office or other traditional working environment.
Try some or all of the following tips for avoiding distraction and staying focused while you work.
Get up and get going
Set the alarm, get up, get showered, dressed, and ready as if you were going to an office, even though you’re not. It’s tempting to schlub around in your jammies but if you’re too comfortable, you might get lazy. Hey, you’re in your jammies, it would be easy to crawl back into bed or curl up on the couch and catch a nap, right? Not very productive.
Act as if you’re going to work and get dressed, even if nobody will see you all day. Be comfortable, just not too comfortable. Not having to get dressed every day is a huge appeal of working from home, but give this idea a try and see if you don’t feel more professional, which in turn will affect your productivity.
Limit outside distractions
Close Facebook and Twitter and your other social networking sites so you’re not tempted to see who’s doing what every five minutes. Put your cell phone away or turn it off if possible so you can’t text, browse or play games. Tell friends and family to contact you only if it’s an emergency. You can’t always control outside distractions, but you can limit them as much as possible.
Keep your work-space tidy
Have a clean, clutter-free work zone. Try to keep your desk tidy and organized so you know where everything is and you don’t have to waste precious time looking for a pen or notes or something to jot ideas on. Having neat baskets and folders is helpful; you can buy organizers at office supply stores or even the dollar store.
If there’s a lot of clutter, your eye tends to be drawn to it, which means you’re not focused and concentrating, and chances are you’re thinking about how you should be de-cluttering your workspace. Get it over with and maintain it, and you won’t have to waste time thinking about it. Remember: for every minute you spend looking for something or worrying about the clutter, that’s a minute taken away from working and making money.
Make a schedule
Many people who work from home are freelance writers, and writers never know when ideas will hit or when the muse will make its appearance, so some writers find it nearly impossible to create a schedule and stick to it. If you don’t have that problem, make a schedule. Add not only work time, but other things you need to get done in a day –– cooking, errands, cleaning, working out, etc. Also, make sure you don’t get so busy that you forget to eat, and be sure to make time in your schedule for relaxation and fun.
Not all of these steps will work for everyone. People work in different ways, at different paces, and only you know what works for you. If you find yourself distracted and unable to focus, stop and take note of what’s distracting you. Is it too much clutter, too many people vying for your attention, your music is so loud it’s drowning out your thoughts, or you’re thinking of all the things you need to get done?
When you work from home, there will always be an excuse not to work, because you don’t have a boss or co-worker looking over your shoulder and evaluating your performance or judging you. You need to provide your own motivation and do whatever it takes to get the work done.