If you work from home, you already know that running your business out of your home is a great way to save on office and commuting costs. It also affords you the chance to be closer to your young family or older parents (if these are part of your daily responsibilities). But being at home also makes you vulnerable to interruptions and distractions that you need to consider — maybe even more than you might face at a traditional office. The most common pitfalls you are likely to encounter are usually the following. Consider these strategies to avoid letting distractions get in the way of getting business done.
Household responsibilities: Don’t let errands and household activities become a regular part of your workday. Cultivate the attitude that even though you are physically at home, you are mentally at work. If the vacuum cleaner is calling your name, you are probably avoiding some work task that you don’t want to do. Relegate chores to their own time — schedule them in if you have to. Emergencies do happen but keep in mind how you organized your personal time when you worked in the office and approach errands the same way working at home.
Family and friends: Talking to your spouse, your children or friends can potentially consume much of your time. Instead, work out a clear plan with your family and get their support. Let them know when you will be working so they will avoid disturbing your concentration. Hang a “Genius At Work” sign at your office area and when the sign is out — you’re not available.
Many mothers of infants and young children chose to work at home only to find that the care and nurturing of the children consume their full daylight hours. If that is the case, and the tender age of the child prevents the “Genius” sign from working — change your office hours, perhaps after the children are asleep or early in the morning before other activities have started.
Losing focus: Don’t interrupt yourself with office minutia or extraneous telephone calls. Set up your working environment to help you stay focused on the job at hand. Put temptations out of sight as much as possible. Make a list of tasks and/or projects to complete and check them off as you complete them. If non-business telephone calls (either welcomed or not) disrupt your work consider getting a separate line or letting your answering/voice mail pick up. And, don’t initiate personal calls during your office hours. If disruptions continue to be the bane of your workday, consider relocating your office to a different part of the house.
The luxury of working at home comes also from the flexibility of setting your schedule. If your job requires you to put in eight hours a day, consider breaking your “work day” into two shifts of four hours and maybe very odd hours, say from 5 to 9 a.m. and again from 7 to 11 p.m. Be flexible, be creative but be dedicated to your schedule.