If we’re distracted, then we don’t work like we should. Our survey found that 45% of remote workers found that household distractions were their top concern. How important is working without distractions? It ranked higher than any other issue on our list, including challenges like the lack of human interaction and motivation.
And while you might know the typical tips for working at home without distraction—creating “focused” time, staying off of social media, etc.—these aren’t always practical. What are some less-orthodox ways you can use to minimize distraction while working from home?
Tip #1: Five minutes a day
One of the reasons distractions pile up on our day and get in the way of our productive time is simple: we choose them. We might be in the middle of intensely focused work, then up pops an email. That email now commands our attention. We now have a new problem to solve, a new riddle to figure, and we’re going to devote our attention to that, disrupting the focus that we had on the previous task. It adds up, too: some distractions cost as much as a half-hour of our time.
What if there were a way to avoid the distraction in the first place?
Try this: every morning, create a fresh document called “distractions.” You then use this document to drop every new challenge or thought that comes in your mind. By dropping a few words into the document, you free yourself to get back to focused work. At the end of the day, you can take five minutes and visit this document and see if the issues are still worth handling. You’ll be surprised how often they aren’t.
Tip #2: Increase the barriers to distraction
Want a surefire way to distract yourself while you’re at work? Set your phone down on your desk with the sound on. Every time someone sends you a funny meme, you can stop, look at it, and enjoy a distraction.
The problem is this is exactly what we don’t want. Sure, it’s nice to work at home and have that kind of freedom, but if each distraction costs you well over twenty minutes of focused work, it’s better to minimize the distractions before they start.
Do that by increasing the barriers to distraction in the following ways:
- Turn the phone off and put it somewhere else. You can even customize your settings so you only hear calls and texts from approved numbers.
- Close the shades. Who doesn’t love a great view? Someone who can’t stop staring out the window to the detriment of their work. Close the shades and enter “work mode.”
- Make lunch in advance. Hunger is an underrated distraction, and if you let it take over, it leads to other distractions. Where will you get your food? Should you cook something? Should you order delivery? Soon, you’re Googling the open restaurants in your area well in advance of your lunch break.
Tip #3: Create physical barriers (even when they're meaningless)
There’s something about settling in an office with four walls and hearing nothing but the sound of the air conditioner. Assuming that electronic distractions are at a minimum, who wouldn’t feel ready to work and focus in that kind of condition?
Unless you have ample office space at home, you’d be surprised at how difficult this can be to replicate. If you’re in the living room, you can run into all sorts of distractions: kids, the temptation of television, and all sorts of home activity coming through the room. And working from a basement or garage may not be practical.
To work in a distraction-free environment at home, section off an area in a low-distraction room like the bedroom. If you must, even create physical barriers that remind the people around you that you’re at work. A simple “Working” sign outside the door can work wonders. And when it comes time for you to conference with team members, you won’t have a garage or your basement as the background. But you will have the privacy of one.
Uncover more remote work tips in our latest eBook
Flex work is here to stay and your business needs to embrace it wholeheartedly – but you’ve got to do it right. It’s not just a matter of IT enabling software and fading into the background; it’s a multi-channel, multi-team approach that begins with strategy and carries through employee culture.
Download our Anywhere Worker Guidebook to uncover the four critical elements of making this transition!