While I think I touched on this in my Top 5 Pros and Cons of Working From Home article, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to perhaps the biggest/hardest part about working from home: focusing.
(If you live alone feel free to disregard most of the following)
When you’re working from home – especially a home that you share with others – sh*t is gonna get loud, especially around the time everyone else comes in from work. They just got back from work, so they want to relax with watching T.V., playing video games, and they most definitely need to cook dinner. You may need to call/text friends and family through out the day, go to the store and if there are pets you need to attend to?
And that’s not even mentioning digital distractions, like social media. So, with all these distractions, how are you ever going to focus? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: You just gotta make yourself do it.
Whether this means waking up earlier/staying up later than everyone else so you can have a few hours of quiet, working with headphones on, or having a dedicated ‘work’ room (or space), do something that will allow you to get your shit done.
Is it fair that you may have to work around others’ schedules just so you can get what you want done? Not really. But what is the other option? Sitting there doing nothing day after day when you could be working? Everybody has to start somewhere, and one day when you’re in the middle of living your dream, you’ll thank your past self for taking the initiative.
Anything that’s worth getting is worth the work.
If interruptions are unavoidable/people absolutely need to talk to you, maybe try giving them certain times they can interrupt you. Like a short recess, it allows you a quick break from your work, and allows the people in your life to not feel like you’re blowing them off. As your list of things that need to get done grows, it will be increasingly good to schedule yourself breaks and check-in times with those around you, so you don’t go down the work spiral. It can be hard to keep to your scheduled breaks, but working constantly isn’t good for your health. And, there are studies that show that constantly working and not taking breaks can actually make you less productive.
I actually gave myself a ‘quitting time’ of 8pm. This may sound late, but since most days I wake up at 10am, it’s actually only 9 hours of work a day – which is only 1 hour more than the typical 9-5.
I also usually write with headphones on, so if people are talking, being loud, etc. it doesn’t usually bother me. And, if I need extra non-distractions? I just close my door. (My desk is set up in my bedroom.)
Everyone in my house knows that if my door is closed, not to bother me, unless it’s really important. Or, a less invasive way to get my attention? Shoot me a text! I always have my phone to the left of my computer, so I can see it light up. This system has been working since I started publishing books in 2016, and so far there haven’t been many issues. (This may be because my mom is also a freelance writer, so she understands the need for space)
However, as life tends to do, things won’t always run smoothly. No matter how many scheduled times/breaks, meetings times, etc. you have, some days it will just feel like people can not give you time to yourself to complete your work. I understand the frustration (trust me), but try not to let this get you agitated. Sure, it’s annoying, but these people care about you, and chances are they don’t realize they’re being annoying.
This is why having a conversation about what you need to be productive can help. (Instead of not saying anything and then blowing up at people when they do the thing that’s secretly been annoying you) I’ve found most people aren’t actively trying to be assholes/annoying, etc. so just tell them what you need so you can get things done.
Okay, I feel like maybe things got a bit muddled up there (I was actually writing this while fielding interruptions… go figure!), so in the interest of keeping things simple:
Ways to Focus:
- Get up earlier/stay up later than others
- Work with headphones on
- Have a designated ‘work’ space (that people know not to bother you)
- Schedule breaks/check-ins with people so they don’t constantly interrupt (or feel ignored)
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