Working from home is a luxury, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of distractions.
Luckily, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of ways to make your home office distraction-free so you can spend more time taking care of business.
What’s so distracting about working from home?
Well, lots of things, actually.
A study from Buffer found that of those polled, 16% reported distractions as one of their biggest struggles when it comes to the WFH life.
Maybe your kids are home with you (summer break anyone?), or you have pets that seem to demand attention at every waking hour. Maybe you’re spending too much time scrolling through the various social media feeds we’re all addicted to keeping up with.
Or perhaps there’s no one home expect you and your thoughts. Is there something that’s stressing you out or causing you to lose focus?
Once you identify what’s distracting you, you can take steps to tackle the issue (however, we highly advise against tackling your kids or pets if that is indeed the case).
Here are several smart ways to eliminate distractions while working from home.
1. Establish working hours with your family
Boundaries are an essential part of being productive at home, and what better place to start than with your family? Communicating not only your work hours but that those hours are for working, sets the expectation that you value that time.
This will vary depending on your family situation. If your working hours change every day per your baby’s nap time, so be it! If your kids are at camp or school and your partner is at work—boom—those hours are golden. Having a condensed window to get things done might motivate you to buckle down, too.
Do whatever works best for you and your family that will make working from home more manageable for you.
2. Work in blocks of time
If there’s a time of day when you’re most productive, divide that time into chunks (or boxes on your calendar) and only work on that task during that time. In other words, if you work best in the morning, block out your entire morning by task, and stick to that specific task during that time.
Time management hacks like the Pomodoro technique and the Action Method are great for maximizing that time. Especially if your mind is prone to wander, breaking up your work into chunks may be the best thing for your productivity.
3. Batch your tasks
Have you ever tried to switch to another task and had trouble getting into a groove? This may be the solution to that problem.
Similar to working in blocks of time, batching your tasks is a great way to focus on one thing at a time. That way, you’re avoiding the brain lag that comes with moving from one assignment to the next.
This may require a bit more planning if you’re juggling deadlines and processes, but it can help you stay focused and not feel so frantic about getting various things done in one day.
4. Keep your phone on do-not-disturb
Do Not Disturb mode is one of the best ways to keep yourself focused and distraction-free.
The constant pinging of notifications, emails, and texts is—you guessed it—terrible for productivity and will leave you scratching your head at the end of the day wondering what you accomplished.
In fact, the average US smartphone user gets about 46 push notifications per day. That’s a lot of potential distractors.
Most smartphones allow you to enable calls from specific contacts—like your partner or your child’s school—so you won’t have to worry about missing an urgent call just because you want to get some work done. Give it a try and watch your productivity soar.
5. Turn on some background music
Zoning out to a relaxing, yet upbeat playlist may be the secret to keeping yourself focused. According to psychcentral.com, listening to music can have a profound impact on our minds and bodies in terms of reducing stress, especially classical music.
Here are a few playlists to take for a spin:
- LoFi Beats: Chill electronic tracks to spark creativity.
- Peaceful Piano: Calming piano music perfect for intense work sessions.
- Productive Morning: Upbeat songs to help you power through your to-do list.
- Quiet Hours: A mix of chill electronic and ambient songs. This one is my favorite.
- Coffivity: Perfect if you want to recreate that coffee shop vibe you love so much but can’t leave the house.
6. Highlight your top to-do list items
Staring at a massive to-do list may not be the best way to jumpstart your day. Plus, trying to focus on one task while being distracted by others is a surefire way to slow yourself down.
Instead, break it down by identifying the items that are of the highest priority—or the items you need to get done that day. You may find that it’s easier to focus on completing two or three major tasks at a time instead of eight.
If this idea sounds good, you should consider taking it further and dedicating some wall space for a personal kanban board.
7. Install a social media blocking extension
Do you succumb to The Scroll more often than you’d like? You’re not alone.
People spend as much as 30% of their time online on social media, with YouTube and Facebook being two of the biggest offenders. It’s easy to log on with the intention of catching up for a few minutes, only to realize 30 minutes have gone by in a snap.
The solution? Install a website blocking extension for your browser. It’s as simple as that. This way, whenever you feel the urge to log on in search of a distraction, you won’t be able to.
Here are a few notable website blockers per browser:
- Block Site for Chome: With this extension, you can block whatever sites you choose, plus you can set a schedule of when those sites are to be blocked. Block Site also syncs with your phone or desktop to keep you focused no matter what device you’re on.
- LeechBlock for Firefox: This extension is equipped with advanced site blocking features, like access control, and access delaying, which allow you to customize what sites you want to restrict your access to during certain periods.
- SelfControl for Safari: This free browser extension is pretty straightforward and lets you block whichever websites you’d like for however long you’d like.
8. Invest in noise-canceling headphones
Sometimes you just need total, complete silence to really focus on what’s in front of you. Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to help you get just that—whether you’re working at home, at a busy coffee shop, or in a loud airport terminal.
Here are a few highly-rated noise-canceling headphones for your shopping pleasure:
These top-of-the-line wireless headphones provide three levels of noise cancellation, so you can be as zoned out as you need to be. Plus, this pair is Alexa-friendly if that’s your jam.
This less expensive Bose pair doesn’t mean a compromise on quality. The QuietComfort 25 is wired and lets you seamlessly toggle between music and the noise cancellation setting.
In addition to noise-canceling, the COWIN E7 Pro comes with Bluetooth, a built-in microphone, a 30-hour playtime battery life, and soft ear cushions for maximum comfort.
If all eight fail, take a break
If you find that nothing seems to be working to help you refocus and get to work, it might be a sign that you need to take a break.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking breaks. We’ll put it another way, just in case: Taking breaks makes you more productive, not less. You read that right—taking breaks could be one of the best things you do to free your mind of distraction.
Taking a break to read, go for a walk, run errands, or nap allows your mind to rest and recharge. Use that time get up and stretch. Clean up your room, while blasting your favorite tune. Put everything unrelated to work away and keep only the essential and functional home office supplies.