Working From Home – Best Tips to Stay on Task

Staying on task can be a challenge when working from home

Working from home - Stay on TaskStaying on task can be a challenge when working from home especially during the school holidays. The children are fighting, your partner wants you to take out the rubbish, and the dog is making circles around the front door wanting to be walked. But, you’re on a deadline and have work to finish.

How do you deal with the constant interruptions when you have a home office? To finish off this series on working from home, here are are some of my top tips to help you.

  • Have an isolated space for your office if at all possible when working from home. A room that you can go inside, put the “do not disturb” note on the door knob, and shut the door. Not everyone is this lucky. And even if you are, there are likely still things fighting for your attention.
  • Put dinner in a slow cooker (I think they’re called crock pots in some countries) so you don’t have to give it another thought for hours.
  • Let your family know your schedule and stick to it as much as possible. If you’re going to work for two hours after dinner, then tell them you’ll be ready to play a game or read a bedtime story at 8:00. Then stick with your promise.
  • Assign tasks to your children. Let them help with the chores around the house. It will teach them responsibility and give you a tiny bit of extra time. When they go off to college and University they’ll already know how to do their own washing and ironing.
  • Rule No 1 is Don’t multitask, Rule No 2, if tempted to multitask Rule 1 applies in all cases. When working from home it’s easy to get drawn in to the trap of multitasking, there is always so much to do. Trying to keep two or three projects going in your head will keep you from doing well on any of them. Do one thing at a time and give it your full focus.
  • Set two time slots during the day when you check email and stick to it. Answer or delete and then move on. Unsubscribe from any lists that don’t offer real value. The same applies to your Social media accounts, check them once or twice a day and set a time limit on how long you’ll be there.
  • Disconnect or shut your browser If you’re working on a project that doesn’t require research on the internet.
  • Work for a set period of time, then get up and walk around. Sitting for long hours in your chair isn’t good for you and you’ll feel exhausted. Plus, you’ll have backache at the end of the day. Getting movement into your day will give you more energy and help you think clearer when you are working.
  • Turn off your mobile phone and turn your landline down, allowing both to go to answerphone. Check messages when you’re on break. Schedule phone or Skype meetings. Other than appointment times, don’t answer the phone, whilst your working.
  • Keep a bottle of water and a few healthy snacks nearby so you don’t have to keep running to the kitchen.
  • Save tasks like laundry and house cleaning until your work day is over. It may be a beautiful day outside, but the lawn can wait to be cut, you have a deadline to meet. Don’t try to multitask business and household chores. You’ll end up doing a terrible job at both.
  • Play music to cut out background noise from the rubbish truck or the neighbor’s barking dog. Find out what kind of music works for you. Some want the energy from rock and others prefer classical.
  • Take a break or relocate if you have to. When your working from home, sometimes there is simply too too much going on in the house to allow for full concentration, if this happens you may be just aswell admiting defeat and taking a break or consider uprooting to a nearby coffee shop. People will still be around, but they won’t be fighting for your attention.
  • Develop a ritual. it’s important to have a ritual that gets you in the mood for work when working from home. This ritual is designed to tell your mind that you are now in work mode rather than parent/partner mode. Your mind will quickly learn that when you turn on the jazz music, light a candle, and sit down at your desk, it’s work time. This helps get you into the groove quicker than if you wait for inspiration.

When working from home, the secret is to find what works for you. Do what you need to do to ensure you can focus completely on work until your present task is done. I hope you have picked up some useful tips from this series and are able to put them in to practice so that you’re able to enjoy all the benefits that working from home can bring.

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Till next Time

Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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30 thoughts on “Working From Home – Best Tips to Stay on Task

  1. Excellent suggestions and recommendations, Mike. I’ll be happy to share these because this is a huge challenge for many. Only about two months ago I visited my daughter and baby-sat her her two year old, which gave me a new appreciation for the challenges mothers who work from home have.

    I would add: if possible, make it appear to neighbours (who do not understand you’re WORKING from home) that you’re not home. 🙂
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  2. I’m going to try the email checking only twice–starting tomorrow (since I’ve already checked it twice this morning!!!) I love that at my home in Florida, I have my own separate office (in what used to be my daughter’s room) and I’ve named it the “Diva Den!”

  3. Great post, Mike. A lot of this advice resonates with me and I need to give some thought to creating a ritual – something I haven’t tried yet which I think I would find really helpful. Thank you.

    I will share this post on the OVO HQ Twitter account – it’s part of a project I’m working on, specifically for homeworkers, so this is a perfect post for us.

  4. All great points Mike. I too love music when I really need to concentrate, however some people would not find that works for them, usually those that are more introverted or grounded in their energy.

    For those that do, Coffivity is a great app that reproduces cafe sounds and you can also play your music through it.

    An additional tip for people to be more productive is in this short video I made, I trust you and your readers find it helpful:
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