Working from home certainly has its benefits, but it is not without its fair share of pitfalls. The average person only focuses on work for 11 minutes before being distracted. So how do we combat the never-ending call of household projects, screaming children, visiting neighbors, etc.? There is no way to avoid all of the interruptions that occur, but here are a few tips to help minimize and manage the distraction deluge:
Create a routine. Having a set schedule in place will help you move more quickly and efficiently throughout your day. Set regular working hours, break times and set time to deal with household matters.
Work from a list. Keep a running to-do list. Decide what your tasks are for the day and prioritize them. With a list, you will not waste any time wondering what to cross off next.
Work during "off" hours. Early morning is the best time to dive into big projects and do work that requires extra concentration. If you're a night owl, late nights may be your best bet.
Minimize technology distractions. Your computer doesn't need 32 windows and 25 browser tabs open. Out of sight–out of mind. Turn off incoming mail alerts and set email filters with priorities. Go on a social-networking diet and limit the number of times you check those sites.
Create a distraction-free workspace. Set up office space in your home that can minimize distractions. Is your office on the main floor? Can you move it to another level? Having an off-the-beaten-path office will encourage productivity. Also, make sure your office has a door, so that you can close yourself in to the working environment you need.
Plan for distractions. We often cram so much into a day that if distractions occur, it can cause a complete derail. Knowing that most tasks take longer than we think, plan for the inevitable. Remember, office workers have their share of distractions to deal with as well!
Monica Friel is president and founder of Chaos To Order - the Chicago area's premiere organizing company since 1990. Friel manages and trains a staff of professional organizers who specialize in everything from household clutter to corporate chaos.