Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been working remotely more and more. With mobility in mind, tech companies have geared development towards mobility. There are few situations in which an office job cannot be done remotely.
One of the problems with remote working is creating an environment in which you can be productive. Right now, kids are starting their school years, many from home. This puts parents at home as well.
I’ve touched on this subject before in recent months, but I think it’s a good idea to look at eliminating distractions in more detail.
Certainly, this topic goes beyond remote working, a lot of these pointers will work for in the office as well. But I wanted to focus primarily on remote working for this blog post, as so many are finding that their home offices are going to be more long-term than we previously thought.
Personally, I am distracted by lots of shiny things. Be it a news article, text message, email, or just random mind wandering… I have always struggled with staying on task. Creating a distraction-free environment helps me immensely, especially when I have a deadline or a lot of items that need to be completed soon.
If you’re anything like me, then I know you’ll be able to relate. So, let’s look at some ideas to help keep on task.
Work Time is Work Time.
Household tasks are not to be done during work time. Laundry, dishes, etc. can wait until later. If you were commuting to the office, you would not be able to do those tasks during the day. Why would you want to attempt to do them during your workday at home?
Treat your day as if it’s another day at the office. Need to make a personal phone call? Do it when you would normally do it during a workday at the office. Same with any other task.
Establish routines and schedules to help keep you on task.
Set the Rules with your Household
Families that are working and doing distance learning are all going to have their own separate tasks during work and school hours. Sit everyone down in a family meeting and go over the rules. What works for your household isn’t necessarily going to work for another, so think about your household and everyone’s specific needs.
Impose Quiet Times
When your other family members are also at home, it is crucial to have uninterrupted time to get work done. When you set your rules with the family, set specific times of the day that are quiet times.
Impose Electronics Rules
This is not only for the kids but for you as well. If your iPad isn’t necessary to do your work, it has no business on your desk. Kids need to know that the Xbox will not be turned on until after (insert task or time frame here).
Being the most detractive thing for most people, electronics should be kept at a minimum when you’re at your work station.
Set Designated Workspaces
Every family member that is working or distance learning needs to have their own space. Even if it’s a corner in the dining room. You can get an expensive table, or have a specific spot at the dining room table. This needs to be everyone’s designated space.
From Preschool student to Company Executive, having your own designated workspace will give everyone a sense of purpose, belonging, and gives spatial clarity.
Hard Work Deserves Rewards
Everyone needs to be rewarded for a job well done. This is true, especially with children. When the rules are followed and everyone did a good job for the day or for the week, reward your family with a trip to the park, a bike ride, pizza for dinner, or a trip to the ice cream shop!
Remove Distractions from Your Desktop
I’m talking about your computer’s desktop. Close unnecessary apps, browser tabs, and most importantly social media. Anything that can be a distraction needs to be closed when you’re trying to concentrate on a task.
The fewer distractions, the more likely you are to stay on task.
Understand What YOUR Distractions are
Not everyone is distracted by the same things. Many people seem to believe they work better with music in the background, many believe it to be a distraction. What works best for you? Look at your best work, what was the environment when you were doing this work? Try to mimic that.
It is recommended that you get up at least once an hour. Restroom breaks, refreshing your beverage or grabbing a snack all count. Remember in the office you would get up and walk to a colleague’s desk to discuss something or hand off something. You don’t have that at home, so make sure you are moving your body.
Keep your Workspace Neat and Organized
I find it so distracting when my desk is a mess! I like to keep it at least somewhat organized, or I find that I have a hard time concentrating. Having a decluttered environment also removes clutter from your head, it helps your mindset! Don’t believe me? Try it!
Turn off Notifications
You can turn off notifications at specific times of day in Outlook or Windows 10, as well as turn off the ringer on your phone. When it’s crunch time with your deadline, these can be lifesavers!!
Get Some Exercise
More than just taking a quick break, your body needs movement for energy. Get up and take the dog for a walk or hop on the treadmill for 5 minutes periodically just to get the heart muscles pumping. Your focus levels and energy levels will increase!
Focus on Deep Breathing
If things get stressful it might be a good idea to stop and practice deep breathing for a few minutes. This helps your mind and body refocus. The extra oxygen to your brain has a calming effect. Then you can look at the task(s) before with a little bit better of a mindset.
Try a Brain Dump
Got too many things on your mind at once? Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you can think of in a quick brain dump session. Don’t worry about being neat or organizing your thoughts. The idea is to get it all down on paper so that you can then organize it into categories or priorities.
Keep Pen and Paper at Arms Length
Keeping pen and paper by your side while you’re working will help you when you do get distracted! While you are focused on a task and your mind wanders to a different task, maybe an idea pops into your head, or you remembered another task that you need to do… instead of stopping your current task, write it down really quick and go back to it after you’ve completed the current task.
Multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It can do more harm than good, especially in the quality of your work. Focusing on one task at a time allows you to put your whole brain into the task. Of course, you are going to have some interruptions, that can’t be avoided, but focusing on one task at a time will allow you to be able to check more off of your To-Do list in the long run.
There are too many potential distractions out there to ignore. In order to succeed, and to have your family succeed, those distractions have to be minimized as much as possible. Establishing good work habits will carry you through your entire career. It’s never too late to improve your habits! Think about how you work and what kinds of distractions you have. What can you do to keep on task?
About Harbor Computer Services
Harbor Computer Services is an IT firm servicing Southeastern Michigan. We work exclusively under contract with our clients to provide technology direction and either become the IT department or provide assistance to the internal IT they already have. We have won many awards for our work over the years, including the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010. Most recently we were recognized as one of the top MSP’s in the nation by ChannelFutures coming in at #40 nationwide. And in 2016 as the top Michigan IT firm for Manufacturing. There are a few simple things that make Harbor Computer Services the best choice for your business. •We are Professionals •We are Responsible •We care about your business