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How to Eliminate Distractions and Stay Productive When You Work From Home

by - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

We're into the second week of social distancing, staying at home as much as possible, and slowly going stir crazy. How are you? Feeling much the same?

I'm not in a mood much to decorate these days so I've been trying to focus on work. But even that is a challenge. I've worked from home for years but I'm finding it very difficult to work with both my daughter Chloe and husband Sean as home as well.

How To Stay Productivity When You Work From Home

But there are ways to eliminate distractions and stay productive when you work from home. I know it's an easy trap to fall into: it's so easy to make a snack, do chores, chat with your family, or surf on your phone when you really should be working! The key is to have a strategy and stay productive despite the distractions.

Here's my best work from home productivity tips to keep you motivated and focused - even when there are other people around.

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1.   Define A Work Schedule and Routines

The best way to ensure that everyone has time to accomplish what they need to do is to define a work schedule, at least for a portion of the day. We're lucky in that Chloe's teacher has created a lesson plan and is sending out videos, slides, and quizzes daily. This gives us a good 2-2.5 hours each morning where she's preoccupied and Sean and I can focus on our work. We can schedule the morning hours for our tasks that require deep focus, quiet, and concentration.

Creating a work routine ensures that everyone in the household knows what to expect. Children thrive with routine. They enjoy knowing when their play times, meal times, and nap times occur. The more structured time you can introduce into your day, the more predictable and easy flowing it will become.

With younger children, sticking to the schedule can be a bit more challenging. Your blocks of dedicated and independent time might be shorter, or you'll have to trade off with other adults in the house. Perhaps one parent watches the kids in the morning and the other in the afternoon. You might not be as productive as you were in the office, but having a few common 'work' hours in the household might suffice.

Children also have shorter attention spans. To keep them engaged, a mix of educational tasks and play tasks is best. You could also have them choose from a short list of activities, for example: colouring pages, collage work with scissors and glue, or an ipad drawing application. Giving them a choice will keep them excited about their 'work'.

2. Batch Work

Do you ever find yourself flitting from task to task, and the end of the day, nothing gets completed? One way to avoid that is to batch your work. Batching means focusing on one task at a time and dividing your schedule into big blocks of time devoted to individual tasks. You allocate your time in days and hours, as opposed to hours and minutes.

I've made batching work by assigning different tasks to different days. Most days are either creative (styling, DIYs, taking and editing photos), productive (writing blog posts, SEO and Pinterest), or strategic (working on new ventures, products, and taking online courses).

Batching your work allows you to maintain a constant stream of thought and be more efficient. You don't lose time getting into something new, setting up equipment or tools, and you don't have to disengage and quickly move onto something else. I find that it's in those in-between moments when most productivity is lost. With batching, you keep up the momentum and achieve more as a result.

3. Create A Dedicated Work Space

Your environment, especially for those who work from home, plays a huge role in your productivity. My belief is that you should have a dedicated work space. Even if you're working on your laptop and can work from anywhere, you should be intentional in where and when you work.

Working from the living room sofa or from your bed makes it that much more difficult to "shut off" and stop working for the day. The lines between work hours and play hours become fuzzy and you start to tell yourself "I can work wherever and whenever". What's wrong with that? You work less than 100% during your work time and you never shut work completely off. Trust me, I've made that mistake!

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Your work space doesn't have to be large either; it's great to have a home office, but a small desk in the kitchen or a seat at the dining room table can work just as well. What you want to create is a space that, once you sit down, you automatically associate with work and you can get right to it. 

I recognize this can be difficult, especially these days when there are more people than usual at home. You might have to move a desk into a bedroom to achieve that personal work space, but everyone will be happier when they have their own (small) space.

4. Create An Ideal Environment  

Building on the idea of a dedicated work space, you should create an environment that is ideal for keeping you productive. Here's a few ways to do that:
  • Have an ample sized and clean work desk and a comfortable chair 
  • Keep noises and distractions away. Shut your door or put up a "Do not disturb" sign when you're on a conference call
  • Work in a room that is well lit and is a comfortable temperature
  • Be organized. Keep your environment neat with all your essentials on hand
  • Employ your senses. Do you work best with music playing the background, or in complete silence? Would a burning candle or scented oils in a diffuser help you to be more energized?
  • Silence your social media apps for certain hours
  • Schedule in breaks and have reminders to get up, grab a drink, and step away from your desk occasionally
When your environment is enjoyable, you can concentrate on your work more easily

5. Fill Out Your Calendar

There is so much that feels uncertain these days... most of us are worried about our health, the education of our children, our jobs and incomes. You can feel despondent and feel a lack of control. It's times like these, when you are most uncertain about your future, that you should plan what you can control.

Planning your calendar, even for a few days or a week ahead, can bring a sense of hope. I know I love looking in my calendar and looking forward to upcoming events or vacations. Not much of that is happening now, but even seeing a planned conference call, client consult, or webinar in my calendar helps me feel that things are somewhat normal, that I am being productive in these extraordinary times, and that the world goes on even if it feels like it's falling apart.

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If you're searching for a planner, I whole heartedly recommend the Passion Planner. This planner has been a game changer for me this year. It allows to me keep on track with my goals and my calendar. I also love to use color coded tasks, draw, and put stickers and words of encouragement in my calendar. It provides a happy visual stimulus, something I welcome these days.

I hope you find these work from home tips useful. Do you have any tips to share? We'll be working from home a few more weeks at least and I can use all the ideas!

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