Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Distraction Free Workplace

Ask any boomerpreneur what their biggest hurdle is when it comes to tackling the to-do list and they will all likely tell you the same thing - it’s the constant distractions.  I'll bet it's also true for you.  The kids are calling you.  Email or social media notifications keep popping up.  The phone is ringing.  The dog needs fresh water.

The list goes on and on. It’s no wonder you can’t get anything done.
So how do you do it? You start by creating a distraction-free zone.  A place of your own.

Plenty of entrepreneurs got their start working from the kitchen table, stealing a few minutes here or an hour there when the kids are napping or during lunch.  But when the business begins to grow, it pretty quickly becomes clear that a laptop in the living room is not an efficient way to work.  It’s time to find a real office.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go rent space downtown!  If you run your business from home and want to keep it that way, you just need to carve out a space you can call your own.
For some, a spare bedroom makes an ideal office space.  For others, a corner of the basement or even a closet will do.  The key is to create a place where, when you’re in it, you - and everyone else - knows you’re working!   And perhaps more importantly, when you’re not in it, you can leave the work behind.

Of course, just having a nice quiet office with a door won’t eliminate all your distractions. There’s plenty of them right on your computer waiting to suck away all your work time.  How you deal with those will depend largely on the type of work you do.
For example, many writers find it beneficial to block out all other applications while they work.  Tools such as ByWord and OmmWriter eliminate the distractions by offering full-screen text editors that also lack all those formatting bells and whistles of a typical word processor.

Does the Internet call to you? Consider installing browser software such as LeechBlock (for Firefox) or StayFocused (for Chrome).  Both let you block certain sites (Facebook, for example) for specific periods of time.   If you want to get in a solid 3 hours of work before embarking on another Candy Crush tournament, just turn on your timer and you won’t be able to access Facebook at all until your work day is done.  You can do the same for any site that commands your attention, but keep in mind that if you have more than one browser installed on your computer, you can always click over to the unlocked choice to sneak a few minutes of play time in.
Now about that smartphone.  Since you can do almost anything on your phone that you can do on your computer, it can be one of the biggest distractions in your workspace.  If you don't need your phone, leave it in another room until you are finished working.  If course, there is always the exception for family emergencies.  If you can't put it aside, at least turn off all the social media and email notifications.
Speaking of family, they can also be a distraction, along with friends and neighbors.  While you want to actually eliminate them, you can reduce the time you spend interacting with them.  Make sure family members, including children, understand that when you are in your workspace with the door closed, you are to be disturbed only for emergencies or for something business-related.  Also do not allow yourself to get pulled into your friends or neighbors plans or problems.  Simply tell them you are working and you will be happy to catch up with them later.
Of course, the important thing to remember is that your environment is only the beginning.  You need to work on building up your self-discipline, so you can say no to distractions and get the work done!


Liz Delaney said...

Great post Melodieann. Thanks so much. I work from a spare bedroom at home. Earlier this year, I underwent a 90 day blitz where I had to learn to ignore distractions. My friends understood not to ring me during the day. Family was a different matter. I had to ignore phonecalls. I figured if it was important, then they would leave a message and I could get back to them. It is amazing how many telemarketers are out there!!!! I am still training my husband to not interrupt when I am in my

Melodieann Whiteley said...

I know how hard it is to ignore family! It took me a long time before I was able to let go of what was happening in the household and focus on my work. I did find it was easier if I closed the door to my "office". At least it muffled the sounds!

Jenni Ryan said...

Some great advice! I think everyone needs those browser blockers. It's so easy to be distracted with everythign else online.

Debra Jason said...

It's important to set boundaries with friends & family (especially when working from a home office). When I first started my biz (25 years ago), friends would call in the middle of the day and ask "what are you doing?"
They always seemed surprised when I said "working." Eventually they got it and respected that I was indeed busy making a living even though I was doing it from home. Today, it's no longer an issue.