By Holly Brown (Delta Omicron, Portland State University)
Working from home is tough! I never thought that I would be working at my dream job from my childhood bedroom…not the vibe. No one said it was going to be easy, and no one also said how many other things there are to do at my house! Below are my tips and tricks to combat those work-from-home distractions!
Coworkers (family, four-legged friends and roomies)
Working from home means being surrounding by those you live with and love…all. day. long. It can be easy to get caught up in conversation or distracted by the pets wanting to play. Here are some ideas to set boundaries with your new coworkers!
- Set ground rules with family or roommates: It is important to have a conversation with those you are living with on what your workday hours look like and what you need to be the most successful. Set quiet hours if you feel like there are constantly noisy distractions or let them know when you are in important meetings. The best thing here is communication!
- Create a productive and dedicated workspace: Since you are not going to the office every day, it is hard to separate home life and work life when you feel like you never leave the house. If possible, find a space in your home that is away from those you live with and one where you know you can be the most productive.
- Schedule time into your day to play with your pup: If you have dogs like mine, they need attention ALL of the time and love to make guest appearances in my meetings. I make sure that when I am taking a Zoom break, I am spending it outside throwing the ball, or I get up a little bit early to take them on walks. This is not only good for the dogs, but an excuse for me to get out of the house!
- When the whole household works from home, find time to hang out: Schedule to have meals together or work out together! Even though you are in the same house, work can be consuming, so it is important to still make time for each other.
Internet (online shopping, TikTok wormholes)
Getting lost on the internet can easily happen in the office and at home. If you know you need to see the latest TikTok or Instagram post, take social media breaks throughout the day to get that fix. Self-discipline is much easier said than done, but do your best to fight those urges to sit on your phone. If all else fails, turn your phone off when you are working on a project, trying to get through emails or working in a meeting. Your social media followers can wait just a few hours.
I can get SO BORED when working alone on a computer all day, and then that can lead to so many more distractions. Here are a few ways I combat boredom while working from home.
- Play music or a podcast in the background: I can’t explain it but listening to true crime podcast really calms me down and helps me focus on my work. Find a good playlist that will help you focus and play that in the background to help the time pass.
- Invest in a productive workspace: As I said above, having a space in your home that is solely dedicated to work can help. I invested in a stand-up desk because just that little bit of movement helps me stay focused and grounded while working. Also, if staying in one place all day can be hard, change it up! Every few days, spend your workday somewhere else in the house, in the backyard if it’s a nice day or at a local coffee shop!
- If you are someone who needs breaks, take them: It is important to occasionally step away from the screen so you can stay motivated throughout the day. Go on little walks outside to get some fresh air or just walk into a different room for 5 minutes. Those little breaks can help you stay motivated and focused throughout the day!
Raise your hand if you think you can clean out your closet, do laundry and vacuum all while working! I always think that I can multitask with some chores since I am home, but this definitely affects my productivity and attention to my work. How do I tackle this distraction? I fight the urge to multitask! I aim to save chores for the early morning when I do not have meetings or push them off to the weekend.
Constant emails, instant messages or texts
I feel like my phone never stops ringing and my inbox is flooded with emails all day long. Working remotely, the only way of communicating with coworkers is through the phone and instant messaging, and that can get very overwhelming. I have a bad habit of responding to texts/emails while lying in bed or standing in line at the store. I try to be strict with myself to only answer work-related texts when I am working. If texts are distracting during meetings, turn your phone on “do not disturb” and put it somewhere you cannot see it. This helps me manage my stress and helps with that work-life balance! Are emails piling up? Schedule a time of day that you want to sit down and tackle those. There is a difference between responding and instantly responding. Some things do not need your immediate attention, so it is OK to put them to the side and respond later in the day, if not tomorrow. I know that this is much easier said than done, but once you get the hang of it, it is a lifesaver!
Well, there you have it – Holly B’s tips and tricks to tackling those work-from-home distractions. Whether your dog is driving you nuts or your phone will not stop ringing, remember to take a step back and breathe. You are a real, strong woman who can overcome any obstacle and accomplish all your goals. You go, sister!