Tech & Work

11 ways to eliminate distractions while working from home

Creating a home office, posting your schedule, and even just getting dressed can make for a more productive working atmosphere.

Working from home is an increasingly popular choice for tech professionals—a September report found that 74% of workers would be willing to quit their current job for a gig that allowed them to work remotely.

With an increasing amount of cloud technologies, collaboration platforms, and advanced devices, more people are able to work from wherever they are the most productive while still remaining connected. Additionally, some office cultures are shifting to be more accomodating of remote workers—the aforementioned report found that 83% of professionals already use technology to connect with coworkers that aren't physically in the office.

While some workplaces are allowing for increasing remote work, actually productively working from home can be challenging for some professionals. Distractions like household chores, kids, and easy access to a TV can prevent at-home workers from accomplishing as much as they want or need to.

Here are 11 tips for eliminating those distractions and boosting productivity while working from home, from current and former remote workers.

SEE: Telecommuting policy (Tech Pro Research)

1. Play background music

Multiple professionals said playing music or an audiobook during the work day helped increase their focus. One option is Brain.fm, an artificial intelligence-driven (AI) music app designed to help people focus.

"I switch this on and within minutes my productivity skyrockets," Dylan Hey, a remote worker at Leadfeeder, said.

2. Break up your work

While some people can sit down and remain focused on a project for hours, most will get burned out and then are easily distracted. Find a schedule that works for you, but remember to take breaks. Hey recommended the Pomodoro Technique, which separates highly focused work sections with short breaks.

3. Use a calendar or to-do list

Several remote workers highly recommended using a to-do list or daily calendar to remember what they need to do and stay focused on those tasks. Some also used these lists as a brain dump area, so they could write out any distracting thoughts or personal to-do items, allowing them to focus on their work.

Planning out your week, including work and personal goals, could also help decrease distractions, Chelsea Krause, head accounting writer at Merchant Maverick, said. Knowing you have made time for personal tasks like laundry may make you less worried about getting them done during your working hours.

4. Get dressed

Maintain a schedule similar to what you would follow if you worked in an office, including getting out of bed and putting on clothes other than pajamas, Phil Lanides, a senior media strategist at MSL Group, said. Follow this by having set hours, including a designated lunch break.

5. Leave the house

This tip is two-fold: Leave the house for long and short breaks. Spending a day working from a coffee shop can give you a change of scenery and take you away from distractions like kids or pets, Lanides said.

Leaving for a short break can also be helpful, some professionals said. A lunch break or a walk can help you refocus your energy.

6. Create a set office

Try to not work from your couch, some professionals said. Instead, designate a home office, preferably something with a door to separate yourself from outside distractions. Only use the home office space when you're working, to help give yourself a feeling of being at the office, Lanides suggested.

Additionally, set up the office with similar equipment that you would have at an actual office. For example, if you use two monitors at work, have two monitors in your home office, remote worker Jeff Moriarty recommended.

SEE: How to optimize the smart office (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

7. Batch tasks

Knock out similar tasks in one batch to maximize productivity, writer Fiona Adler said. Have a bunch of calls to make or emails to respond to? Do them all at the same time instead of doing a few and waiting on the rest. This could help clear out smaller tasks, which can be mentally distracting when trying to tackle bigger projects.

8. Post your schedule

If there are other people home while you're working, it may be helpful to post a schedule on the door of your home office. This can help kids or significant others know when you're free, and when you're busy and shouldn't be distracted.

A schedule can also make working from home seem more official, so people might be more inclined to respect your boundaries, and less inclined to ask you to run errands in the middle of the day, Trinity Manning, CEO of OnceLogix, said.

9. Know your distractions

Pinpoint your major distractions, Krause said, and knock them out before you settle down to work. Without an issue hanging over your head, you're more likely to focus on your work.

"If my kitchen is a disaster, I know I won't get any work done," Krause said. "I'll stop what I'm doing and clean the whole kitchen since I can see it directly from my desk while I work. To help keep myself focused during the day, I make sure the kitchen is clean before my work hours begin."

10. Deal with your personal phone

Multiple remote workers said checking social media on their phones can be a huge distraction.

"It's so easy to pick up your phone, open Facebook, scroll through Twitter, like a bunch of photos on Insta, and before you know it, 20 minutes have gone by," Lindsay Wissman, a remote worker at The Content Factory, said.

Some recommended simply turning off the phone during work hours, while others recommended putting the phone on vibrate and turning it face-down so you can't be distracted by notifications. Find a way that works for you while keeping you available for calls, if needed.

11. Use visual tools to stay organized

If you get distracted or stressed by thoughts while working, try using visual tools like a dry erase board to draw things or take notes. It can also help you understand a project in a different light.

"I tend to feel trapped in my computer screen when I plan," J.R. Duren, a personal finance expert for HighYa.com, said. "it's almost like the small space restricts my ability to see the big picture."

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/PRImageFactory

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is an Education Reporter at Insider Louisville.

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