Whether you’ve been working from home for years like I have managing Great.com or you’ve just started for the first time, it’s so important to establish boundaries between your home life and your work life when they intermingle so much. Doing so can help you stay productive, focused, and satisfied in both your personal and professional lives.
One of the most effective ways to make boundaries is by reducing both personal and job-related distractions during your workday. Here are 10 ways to remove distractions while working remotely, create a good at-home work environment, and better manage your work-from-home productivity.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
When you have space you can go to that’s just for work, you can better prevent home-related distractions from interfering with work, shift from your work mindset to your home mindset when the day is done, and set healthy boundaries for work-life-balance.
Turn an extra bedroom into an office or office/guest room. Set up your desk and your computer and work equipment, decorate the room in a way that helps you feel like you’re at work and shut the door during work hours. If you don’t have an extra room you can transform, create barriers by hanging sheets to create fake walls or setting up a divider of bookshelves or partitions.
2. Know What Easily Distracts You
Think about the factors that could interrupt your day while working at home: kids, a partner, roommates, TV, the internet, your phone, chores. Make sure any potential distraction is out of sight, out of mind while you work. Hang a “busy” sign on your closed office door, put your phone in the other room, and keep the TV off all day. Avoid potential distractions as much as you can to stay productive and use your time on the clock wisely.
3. Start the Day With Self-Care
Going to the office every day meant following a getting-ready routine. Now that you’re working at home, stick with your typical routine as this can signal to your brain and body that it’s time for work. Then, use this time (or, at least some of it) to get ready for the day in ways you may not have been able to before.
Start your day with some exercise, like a jog or yoga, to promote stress relief, focus, and positivity. You could also take your time making your morning coffee, tea, or breakfast, journaling, reading, meditating or doing any other activity that allows you to start on the right foot.
4. Block Media and Sites That Might Distract You
When working from a computer, tablet, and/or smartphone, you have access to social media, online videos, streaming, games, and more. Consider installing a site blocker extension on your browser to block your access to specific sites, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others that you may be tempted to open while working, for a period of time. That way you can’t act on that temptation and can better focus on your work.
5. Play Background Music
Neither total silence nor background noise is good for avoiding distraction. Put on some headphones and play background music that’s great for enhancing productivity, helping with focus, and promoting positivity. Some genres include classical music, upbeat pop, lo-fi, and other instrumental music. Many sites, including YouTube and Spotify, have playlists dedicated to work-from-home background music. Just make sure your site blocker isn’t actively preventing your access to these sites.
6. Put Your Phone on “Do Not Disturb”
If you need your phone on you, consider putting it on “Do Not Disturb.” This feature, typically found in your smartphone’s settings, blocks calls, texts, and other alerts from your phone unless it’s an emergency. You can customize which types of messages are blocked and which can come through. For example, you might block all notifications, texts, and calls from all numbers except household members, just in case they need to get ahold of you.
7. Schedule Breaks Throughout Your Workday
Working straight through a shift rarely results in a fully productive day because you have natural ebbs and flows in your focus and engagement. In addition, studies show that employees feel guilty for taking breaks, including a full lunch break each day, instead of constantly working. But taking breaks throughout the day helps you get a few minutes of rest here and there and return to work refreshed each time.
Schedule breaks throughout your day so that you force yourself away from your workspace and into an activity that allows you to recharge. Use a calendar app, like Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook Calendar, to outline blocks of time that are dedicated for different tasks and work activities. Then, every few hours, schedule a break and take it. You can even try the Pomodoro Technique to break your work up into 25-minutes sprints of work and 5-minute breaks between them. This proven method can ensure you take much-needed rest during your workday and reduce the temptation to give in to distractions.
8. Save Household Chores for After Work
One of the perks of working remotely is that you can handle household responsibilities practically any time. However, shifting back and forth between household chores and professional work can be jarring for your mind and body, which can reduce productivity in both activities. Save chores for when you clock out, just as you would when working at the office, to avoid ineffective multitasking.
9. Share Your Schedule With Others
If your distractions come from others, like children, roommates, or colleagues, needing your attention, you can try sharing your schedule with them so everyone knows when you are and are not available to be with them. Consider putting a copy of your work schedule on the fridge, emailing a copy to your team, or posting updates on your remote work messaging app, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
10. Know When To Give In to a Distraction
As previously mentioned, your attention span and motivation naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. And sometimes, your mind and body are both in agreement that it’s time to stop for a break or for the day. Know what your mind’s and body’s signs are that you need to give in to distraction and shift your mindset. That way you can always put your best self forward when working instead of working less efficiently and effectively when your mind and/or body are tired.
Distractions can negatively impact your productivity, effectiveness, and work-life balance, no matter the role or industry you’re in. That’s why it’s so important to understand what distractions you have to manage while working at home and employ strategies to reduce them and their impact on your work.
Author Bio: Erik Bergman co-founded Catena Media and helped grow it to over 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100% of its profits to environmental charities. In addition to running a successful online affiliate business, Erik also hosts the Becoming Great podcast, shares entrepreneurship tips with his more than 1 million social media followers, and contributes to sites like Entrepreneuer.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes.