Overcoming distractions when working from home requires self-awareness and self-discipline.
Developing self-awareness to maintain discipline throughout your day is to know your own rhythm so you can create your best way of working.
Are there ‘getting-started’ distractions? Are you an early riser or a late starter? Are you most productive in the early morning or later? When will you have home and family distractions during the day? When should you plan natural breaks?
Everyone’s operating rhythms and working patterns are unique. In addition, working remotely will require a different structure than the office. Distractions in your environment can impact your productivity and ability to work effectively.
Knowing your own rhythm is key to overcoming distractions. It defines your work pattern and helps you set your plan for the day. You are then able to schedule the most appropriate times to:
- Complete your work;
- Catch-up with your team and your manager; and
- Take breaks and switch off from work.
It’s also important that you share with your team what works for you and understand what works for them.
Here are some useful tips on how to best overcome distractions and put you in the ‘get things done’ zone:
Find a space where you can work
Have a dedicated space in your remote environment where you can easily do your work. It should be an area that puts you in ‘work mode’, whether it’s a separate room, the dining room table or the kitchen bench. The point is to create one that works for you. Ideally, it would be a place you don’t go to relax and is most conducive for you to get work done.
Have the basics covered
Working remotely will require the right technology and equipment, which all work! Make sure these basic needs are covered so you can continue to complete your work seamlessly and without any issues. If you’re a manager, you need to ensure that these basic needs are met such as a working laptop, and access to servers and shared drives are available to your team.
Set your routine
Develop your own personal routine which sets the pattern of how and when you work best. We all have other things we do in life such as exercise, taking care of family and house chores. Ensure your routine enables you to complete your work and also fit in your other daily activities. Make this routine stick – schedule your work and non-work-related activities; share your schedule with your manager and colleagues; and tell your family/housemates. If you’re a manager, know this information about your team as it will help you to know when best to allocate work, conduct check-ins and provide coaching/support. For example, if a team member is going to be heavily distracted in the afternoon, you may choose to allocate higher priority activities in the mornings.
Plan your day
For some, separating home life from your work life can be challenging now when all your work resources are so readily available and are in the same space. Set specific hours where you concentrate on work, when to have your breaks and when to clock off. Having this plan will guide you in scheduling your work and when to deal with everything else. Similarly with your operating rhythm, share your plan with your team and family/housemates to set the expectation that this when you will be working. For managers, you will need to ensure that your plan is flexible enough to accommodate the individual working patterns of your people while ensuring that the team is still meeting your customers’ requirements.
Make a to-do list
Setting priorities is important at the office and will be infinitely more important when working remotely. The list provides a guide on what you need to work on and by when. Sync your to-do list with your operating rhythm as it will allow you to work on high-priority items when you’re at your most productive and least distracted. Whatever is not finished for the day can be planned for the next day. Extend this to-do list to your non-work activities as well. If you’re able to plan and schedule how you segment your work and your non-work activities (such as chores or grocery shopping), you’ll be able to concentrate on your work much more easily.