Control. That’s one of the great attractions of remote work—that is, having greater control over your environment, your schedule, and your interaction with others. As much as there’s an upside to working virtually, there’s the potential downside of trying to avoid distractions that inevitably come up.
There are many ways to take a strategic approach to dealing with distractions while working from home. To a good degree, of course, your strategy for how to avoid distractions depends on your own individual work situation.
Remote.co asked virtual workers what they do to avoid distractions when they’re working in a remote workspace. We’ve selected several responses that offer a range of insights and approaches to dealing with some common types of distractions, from the lure of surfing social media to dealing with housework.
Here’s how 8 remote workers avoid distractions:
Turn off social media and use noise-cancelling headphones.
“If you have a deadline, close your email and social media until the project is complete. Put in a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones and some music that gets you cranking. It’s okay to take on projects around the house in the middle of the day (that’s one of the benefits of working remotely), but only do them if you can actually finish them in less than 15 minutes, then back to work” — Mike and Anne Howard
Set hard and fast priorities.
“I make a to-do list with my top five priority tasks and then use the pomodoro technique to timebox my day. This gives me plenty of focus time and plenty of breaks. I also find that going running or cycling in the middle of the day helps reset my energy levels.” — Lisette Sutherland
Exercise to re-focus.
“If I feel tired or get an urge to check Facebook or Reddit, I close my laptop and go for a walk. Then I go back to work after I’ve walked it off. I usually need a walking break like this every two or three hours.” — Jay Meistrich
Try a coworking space.
“I really enjoy working in coworking spaces or ‘working’ cafes, as I can get better in the working vibe than at home or in a hotel. I take frequent breaks to move or read a book or talk to a friend on the phone. I also find that meditation and yoga in the morning really helps with my productivity.” — Conni Biesalki
Use a dedicated office space.
“I have a dedicated office, which cuts down on a lot of distractions. I know that when I go into my office, there’s nothing to do but work!” — Jenn Leaver
“I have a dedicated office in our house, with doors. When I’m in my office, I’m at work.” — Jennifer Bird
Set a timer.
“I recently started using the timer on my iPhone to encourage myself to focus on one task at a time. If I’m pitching media story lines, then I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes, and tell myself that I need to have the task complete when the timer goes off. When I’m under time constraints there’s no room for distractions.” — Kristen Marano
Even if you don’t take the exact same tack as these remote workers, you may find inspiration to come up with your own tailor-made solutions. As you find approaches that help you avoid distractions in your virtual job, keep these tips in mind:
- Set boundaries and expectations. Make sure family members and anyone else you may share your home with understand when you are working, and where. Whether that means closing your office door (if you have one), or setting office hours, protecting your work environment can go a long way toward helping you avoid distractions.
- Handle childcare. If you’re a parent working from home, having a childcare plan in place is a major consideration, especially if your children are younger. Consider getting help, whether it’s a relative or a paid caregiver. If your schedule is flexible, schedule your work hours when your kids are sleeping or at school.
- Practice patience. Be in the moment by handling each potential distraction as it arises. Even if you think you’ve planned for every eventuality to avoid distractions, expect the unexpected. Practicing patience with yourself and others can make a huge difference in helping you succeed as a remote worker.
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