Are you one of the many individuals working from home these days? Do you struggle to manage your time wisely, without all the distractions? With the ongoing health pandemic, more people are working remotely. However, there are plenty of working home distractions that can come up at any time. Without having some rules set in place around the house, it can be difficult to get substantial work done at home these days.
Working Home Distractions: A challenge for many individuals
Within the last few weeks, I’ve read several articles about how workers are tackling remote work. For some of them, they were able to adjust quickly. But for many workers, it took quite some adjusting to a work-at-home environment. Some had to brush up on their technology skills, while others sought to find the right balance between working and spending time with family. For those raising little children, it can be stressful to handle multiple responsibilities at the same time.
These are challenging times for many people around the world. You’re lucky enough if you remain employed and have the option to work remotely. If you’re one of the many individuals working from home, there are ways to minimize distractions when needed. It may be hard to adjust in the beginning, but it’s easily manageable once you get into a routine. For the remainder of this post, I will go over a few ways you can manage your distractions while working at home. These approaches include:
1.) Establishing a self-care routine
2.) Avoiding multitasking throughout the day
3.) Taking breaks when needed
4.) Keeping communication to a minimum
5.) Maintaining a balance between work and family
Working home distractions: Set time for self-care in your routine
When there are so many things going on at home, it’s crucial to put time aside for self-care. Recent research shows that self-care helps with managing stressful situations. By self-care, it doesn’t mean you can be lazy or stay in bed all day. Or put it another way, do nothing on a given day. But with the extra time you have in place of commuting to work, it’s an excellent way to set time for yourself. So if you have an extra hour or two to spare in the morning, get some exercise in or do some reading. The extra time you have on hand can make your days go by smoother.
How I practice self-care in my daily routine
As I mentioned before, I use the first one-two hours of my day on self-care activities. I got out of the practice of doing work first thing right after I woke up. Or even worse, running over to check email and social media sites. Instead, I meditate after waking up and set aside some time to read a book. Even if it’s meditating for 15 minutes daily, or reading one-two pages of a book, it still counts! The little time and effort each day can make a difference in how the rest of your day will play out.
Avoid multitasking throughout the day
I’ve written before about how multitasking can make you less productive. Multitasking sounds convenient, but when practiced, it’ll slow you down throughout the day. Some people think they can work while watching tv, or fold laundry while taking part in a conference call. However, it’s essential to set boundaries between working, consuming media, and doing household chores. If you attempt to juggle those tasks during the day, it will only lead to more work and losing out on more time.
How I stopped multitasking
Over the years, I never thought of myself as a multitasker. There were times where it was necessary, but it didn’t make a difference for me. When I’m doing things at home, I may do some light work on my computer and watch Youtube videos. But I found that switching or doing the activities at the same time drastically drained time out my day. More so, I’ve strayed away from working on multiple things at once. For me, working on one task at a time helps me stay focused and get more done than if I did the opposite.
Take breaks when needed(though not for too long)
When there are times you’re focused, it can be hard to step away and not take a brief break. It’s one thing not to remain focused on a task. But if you don’t take regular breaks, it can slow you down. So keep in mind your break times are equally crucial to how much time you spend being productive. If you remember to take five-minute breaks for every hour you work, it’ll help clear your mind and stay refreshed when you go back to work.
How I manage breaks during the day
Considering that I’m strict on time, I’m mindful of the time I spend doing meaningful work and taking breaks. Some days I’ll try out methods including the Pomodoro technique, getting things done (GTD), calendar blocks, and much more. I don’t stick to one plan for working, but when I do, I use these methods to manage my time between working and taking breaks.
Keep your communication to a minimum
One of the biggest hurdles to working at home is maintaining regular contact. Regarding remote work, keeping in touch with your colleagues/employees is key to staying on track of your business goals. Although if you’re communicating to a more considerable extent, it can up a lot of time from your priorities. Instead of talking every hour or so, try checking in with team members 15-30 minutes each day. It's vital to remain modest on communicating: not too much, but neither too little is okay.
How I would handle communication
To get the most out of my time, I would do the best I can to keep the conversation at a minimum. I like the idea of having a quick virtual huddle to discuss a game plan with my team. If I were using a communication tool (i.e., Skype) or a project management program (such as Wrike), I would only check and respond to messages every hour. This approach is much better than messaging every three-five minutes. More so, my goal would be to dedicate more of my time to accomplish my priorities each day.
Maintain the right balance between work and family
Even while working at home, maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging in times, such as right now. If you find yourself juggling between working and looking over your little ones, it can be stressful. You may realize that your children need the care and proper attention at a specific time of the day. If it’s in the morning, utilize the morning hours to spend time with your children. In a case such as that, set time aside to do work-related activities in the afternoon. Moreover, if it’s the opposite way, work in the morning followed by taking care of your children later in the day.
What I would do with work-life balance
I sympathize with those struggling to find a balance between work and family time. If I had young children, I would plan my days and weeks out ahead of time so that I get equal time between personal and professional matters. Then again, last-minute things will come up. So I’d be mindful of those types of situations. If you have a spouse, take turns between taking care of your kids. If your spouse can watch the kids in the morning while you’re working in your home office, then switch tasks when it comes to handling child duties during the afternoon.
Many distractions can come up while working from home. For those who started working remotely, it can be challenging to adjust in the beginning. But if you can figure out some ways to work around the distractions, you’ll be fine in the short-term. In 2020, it's a rough transition period for people switching to remote work. There may be frustrations and headaches involved, but they can easily be managed over time. Hopefully, in the months and years ahead, the distractions that come with remote work won’t be challenging to deal with, such as today. Someday, it’ll feel like second nature for many people.
Are you working from home at the moment? If you’re easily distracted, how are you dealing with time management? What lessons have you learned so far?
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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.