Dealing with distractions when working from home

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed

Working from home is something I’ve done nearly all my adult life. Through trial and error, I discovered the hardest thing about working from home wasn’t self-discipline, it’s the distractions from others.

Kids
Any fantasy you have of working from home around your children’s schedules should be reserved for dreams and novels. Kids like attention — your attention — and they never seem to nap or play quietly when you’d like them to do so. The reality is even though you are working from home, you still need a nanny or daycare arrangements.

For older children (teens!), teach them to respect your time and space. Our teens (both my husband and I work from home) know a parent on the phone means silence from everyone else. In addition, they also know not to interrupt when they see me tapping on the keyboard. When I’m done, they get my attention.

House
This one is a toughie! There always seems to be dishes in the sink, a counter to wipe down, shoes to put away — you name it! This is where having set business hours and a set home office helps. You wouldn’t be late to your non-home office because you needed to do a load of laundry, would you?

Friends/Neighbors
This can be tough because so many people don’t understand that working from home means working! This includes daytime calls from relatives (mom), drop in visits from neighbors, and requests from those who work in a non-home office. I’ve been asked to take out dogs during the day (no), sign for packages (usually yes), watch kids after school (no), and get sick kids from school (depends on the kid/parent asking). Be prepared for hurt feelings when you turn down requests.

Errands
I confess that one thing I love about working from home is that I get to shop at non-peek hours. I absolutely hate going to the mall on the weekends! When beginning your work-from-home journey, you need to be disciplined about your work time and shop when every other working person does – nights and weekends. Once you know what you can accomplish in what time period, you can schedule time away during the day.

Once my kids were all in school, my office hours became the same as their school hours. That came to about 7 hours a day. I’ve learned to be super efficient, and rarely have to work ‘overtime.’ Eliminating the distractions means I get done what I need to work-wise and am able to enjoy my family time.

About Lisa Karl

Lisa Karl is a Partner at Savvy Digital Business, a social media strategy consulting and training firm. The foundation of SDB is to help small business owners discover the best way to connect with their customers online, and through those connections, grow their business. Previous to founding SDB, Lisa was a consultant to small and medium size businesses, developing and implementing marketing strategy plans. Visit her blog to learn more about social strategy, and you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

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