Tips to remain productive while working at home

Fighting distractions to earn a nickle at home

Working at home offers challenges and rewards both, but requires balance and discipline both to be effective.

One of the biggest challenges in working from a home office is drawing the line between"allowable" interruptions and the rest of the background rumble of daily life. This line needs to be clearly identified whether you live alone or in a raucous household with a half dozen children and a spouse.

I am reminded of the classic answer to the generalized question, "How do you write a (book, article, column), "well, first, you defrost the refrigerator". Many people working at home have little distraction rituals that signify to themselves they are settling in to work, much as a dog may circle a spot three times prior to collapsing for an afternoons nap.

One needs to have both a practical and symbolic space between the home work area and the rest of the living space. Some of us may be lucky enough to have a separate office up or down a flight of stairs, others may have to make do with a computer table set in the back corner of a bedroom.

Whatever the space, it should be a space where one is ready to and planning to work when one sits down in it, and it helps to have a demarcation line between it and the rest of the world. I know a woman who remembers clearly her mother opening the door to a sitter every morning, then donning her coat and hat, walking outside and around the house and going into a basement door, to a room where she worked on her dissertation. Some people find going to a gym early in the morning an adequate demarcation between home and work.For some, simply booting the computer, pulling up the headlines and reading the online funnies is an adequate transitional activity.

Whatever works for you, it helps to have family and friends aware of your schedule as well. One should set a minimum time between breaks. It can be hard letting go of the moment to moment crisis management which seems to make up a good part of a parent's day, but kids need to understand their co-operation is needed and necessary. It's helpful to give some thought to what you are going to do and make sure you have the materials you'll need at hand, stamps and envelopes are handy if you're sending out correspondence, reference material, perhaps, if you're writing an article. The fewer times you need to get up, the fewer times you pass a bulb that has needed changing for a week, a coat that needs to be hung up or a loose hinge "that just needs a thicker screw".

Once settled in and working, screen your calls. If you see a caller ID number from a friend signifying a long chit-chat, let the machine answer until you decide to take a break and shift to "personal" time. Don't cruise the fridge every 20 minutes, just cause you're afraid its getting lonely.

But, you are working at home, and how cool is that? One of the perks of this deal should be that some days you can simply say, "I'll do it later", and you can choose to read the Fuzzy Wuzzy Frog for the seventh hundred time to your little one before going outside to shoot a few hoops. After all, the desk is right there, and you can get caught up tonight.

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Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 8 years ago from London

That's a very interesting hub. I especially like the idea of the demarcation line.

Distractions are a huge problem with working at home. Even before having a child I found plenty of things to distract me, and would put all sorts of things before doing my work; including cleaning and ironing, which are my least favourite activities!

Thanks for the useful tips.


LouiseKnittel profile image

LouiseKnittel 8 years ago from Ohio

This is so true! I have to try very hard to stay focused! Some really good points!

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