Business Productivity

The 7 deadly distractions of working from home (and how to resist them)

- March 3, 2018 4 MIN READ

Working from home isn’t for the weak-minded. It takes discipline and the inner strength of Mahatma Gandhi.

We’ve all been there. You start the day with all the right intentions of getting stuck into some serious work, but when you are working from home, there are distractions all around you. And you have unmonitored access to them all.

I’ve come to realise that if I’m to be productive, I have to stay focused. There are no magic elves hiding in my drawers to do my work for me. I’m all I’ve got. Here’s how I resist the seven deadly distractions of working from home:

1. The pantry

Most specifically – the biscuit jar. The more I visit, the more weight I gain and the more trips to the gym I require. Hobnob crumbs end up everywhere, across my desk, lodged in my keyboard, smeared on my chin just as my most lucrative client Skypes for a chat.

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My advice to avoid the same embarrassment? Donate your biscuit jar to the poor. Empty your pantry of all temptations. Better still, whack a lock on it and give the key to your partner (unless they too work from home, in which case you’re both doomed – I have no idea how the pair of you survive).

2. The kettle

For some reason, tea tastes better at home. I have access to full-fat milk, clean mugs and that organic infusion I like to order from India. Nobody’s watching over my shoulder counting how many tea breaks I have, and it’s funny how naturally the mind wanders to a nice hot cuppa when I hit a complicated piece of work. But here’s the thing, tea breaks = toilet breaks and more visits to the pantry (nobody has tea without biscuit).

My advice? Lock the kettle in the pantry, lob your teabags in the fire and buy a goat. Just the thought of goat’s milk is enough to put anyone off tea.

3. The TV

Working from home, the silence can be deafening. At times, so bad the walls pound. It seems harmless turning on the television for a bit of background noise, until the latest Dr. Phil episode comes on about a man living eight lives with eight different wives and 600 children spread over three continents and I think to myself, ‘Well, it is almost lunchtime after all, can do no harm to take a quick break.’

And I’d be right if I hadn’t been distracted all morning by the kettle and the biscuit jar. Still, I scoff down my sandwich and curl up under a blanket to watch the rest of the show and before I know it, my husband comes home from work to find me in the fetal position, snoring.

On a positive note, watching Dr. Phil does improve my inner confidence.

4. The postman

That joyous time of day when I see the postman slipping a nice fresh batch of mail in my letterbox. What surprises has he delivered today … a free holiday? Letter from the queen? Nomination for small business of the year?

Of course it’s bills. It’s always bills.

So don’t go hurtling outside the minute you hear the clink of the letterbox. It’ll only lead to disappointment, more time wasting and a fractured ankle when you slip on the footpath.

5. Kids

If you don’t have them, well done. Working from home during school holidays is almost as great a challenge as pedalling a unicycle, uphill, with your legs tied together. My kids don’t understand I have deadlines and clients. And closing my office door doesn’t stop them barging in to tell me they’re bored and hungry and the biscuit jar’s empty. And they don’t give a monkey’s bottom when I’m on an important client call – no matter how dramatically I wave the phone at them.

What to do about this dilemma? Join all the other parents under the Western sun and fill your house with electronics then berate your children for becoming addicted.

6. Social media

As a business owner, social media is a necessity, a means of promotion. Only problem is, I keep getting side-tracked by photos of mates belly dancing in Honolulu or clips of camels humping goats or some quiz that determines what type of reptile I’d have been in a former life.

The solution? Block all friends. Of course, that does mean you’ll no longer have any, but really, friends? Highly annoying people, seriously overrated.

7. Housework

That moment when I nip off to make myself another cuppa and next thing I know, I’m under the kitchen sink with a spanner trying to repair what may or may not be a leaking tap. Or balancing on a ladder swiping at ceiling cobwebs with a duster … The trouble with working from home is that I’m surrounded by all the chores I failed to do on the weekend because I was stuck to the sofa with a hangover watching more episodes of Dr. Phil.

My advice? Well we’re back to the kettle problem, aren’t we? If you don’t leave your desk in the first place, you won’t see the cobwebs or the dust or the dirty underwear slopped on the floor that … appears to be growing whiskers. Ahem.

The point of it all?

If you, like me, get distracted by all these things – don’t beat yourself up about it; most people will admit they’re hopeless working from home. Discipline is an invisible magic possessed by the few.

So, next time the kettle glints at you through your office door, or you smell the scent of biscuit wafting from your pantry, simply give yourself a swift slap to the face. Because there’s nothing worse when the end of day swings round and you’ve completed two sentences of a report that was overdue yesterday.

Over to you

What’s your greatest distraction while working from home?