Remote work was becoming more common even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the coronavirus has made social distancing necessary, working from home is all but mandatory for many white-collar employees.
Working from home is a dream scenario for many people – who wouldn’t want to crawl out of bed and work in sweatpants all day? If you’re able to work from home, consider yourself lucky. Remote work is possible usually only for “knowledge workers” who regularly use computers, and these jobs tend to be more well-paid, according to the Pew Research Center.
Still, remote work has its challenges. Remote employees said dealing with distractions is one of the biggest challenges of working from home, according to the 2019 State of Remote Report by buffer.com.
As a freelance writer, I agree that handling distractions is a significant remote working challenge. Telling a co-worker you’re busy can be a bit different than telling a family member. Here are a few tips to stay productive – and sane – when working from home. Hopefully, I’ll start taking my own advice, as well!
Certainly, many distractions in an office environment sap your productivity. But there are just as many distractions when working at home – they’re only of a different variety. Some of the biggest distractions are dealing with interruptions from family members, checking cellphones too often, or being distracted by household chores.
The best ways to deal with these distractions include:
- Communicate with family members or housemates. Let them know what time you’ll be working and ask (nicely) they don’t interrupt you. You may even want to use a signal system, such as leaving a note hanging on your home office door that says, “Do Not Interrupt,” when you need time to focus or you’re on a conference call.
- Have a dedicated working space. This is crucial – having a space in your home or apartment where you can minimize interruptions will boost productivity. It’s best to set up a home office, but if that’s not possible, consider carving out a spot wherever you can that’s a dedicated working space.
- Stay focused. Checking email and your cellphone are two things that’ll kill productivity. Of course, you can check these things while in the office, too. At home, though, there are other distractions, like laundry, chores, TV, etc. Remind yourself to stay focused and check email and your phone only as short breaks or “rewards” for getting work done.
- Stick to a schedule. Set a schedule for when you want to get work done and set aside time for breaks, such as lunch or chores. You don’t have to be overly rigid with a schedule, but at least have a general outline.
Another thing that’s helped me deal with distractions is using a timer app called Toggl to log the time I’ve worked. Toggl is free, and it’s one of many timer apps available online. Recording my work time helps because I check it periodically to figure out when I should take a break and when I should buckle down and keep working.
Fitness breaks help, too
As the pandemic continues, many of us will be getting used to remote work. Freelancers like myself are accustomed to dealing with distractions, but even we’re facing more challenges now that we’re likely living around the clock with family members or housemates.
Keep your expectations realistic when working from home – distractions are common, and we all need to figure out our own unique ways of dealing with them. Another thing that helps is taking periodic fitness breaks. For me, it’s a walk around the block (if the weather’s nice) or yoga in my bedroom.
I wish you good luck if you’re working at home right now. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy. If you’re interested in my freelance content writing services, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me here. Cheers!