Are you settling into your new work-from-home routine? If you are one of the essential workers still going to work each day, I imagine you are also adjusting to a new normal. How are you coping with all the changes?
I have been connecting with a lot of my past & present clients, as well as engaging with my Facebook community members, and last week I posed the question, “What are you most distracted by today?” The responses were varied, but several were common amongst the group: children, spouses, pets, the nice sunny weather, lack of structure & focus, and feelings of overwhelm. Can you relate to any of those distractions in your current circumstance?
Working while distracted can create a sense of frustration and lead to a lack of motivation. It can make simple tasks take twice as long and can make us feel poorly about ourselves. It also can put a strain on our relationships with family members who are also trying to be productive while stuck at home! We really are all in this together.
In an effort to help you keep the peace at home and maintain high levels of productivity, here are a few strategies you can implement to avoid and minimize distractions while working!
1. Anticipate and Eliminate the distractions you do have control over. We cannot be in full control of our environment, but there are several aspects that we can become more aware of and take proactive steps to control. For example, use background music or a white noise machine to eliminate the noise of others in your home. Download an app (such as Freedom, AppBlocker, Focus Me) to lock you out of distracting, time-wasting websites; turn your phone on airplane mode or removing your phone from your office for a set amount of time to avoid unexpected phone calls and non-urgent text messages.
2. Communicate boundaries, needs, & availability to those at home and to those with whom you work. You can do this by posting your schedule in the kitchen and/or on your office door. Plan your breaks ahead of time so your children know when you will be fully available (and when you are very much not available!). Compromise with your spouse so that you each get a block of quiet, uninterrupted time in the home office. Conduct a team meeting with your co-workers and allow each member to share any significant time conflicts they may have throughout the week due to family or personal needs. If there is ever a time for managers and co-workers to give you a little grace and flexibility, that time is now! Do not be afraid to communicate your needs and to uphold reasonable boundaries.
3. Implement Structure through Schedules & Routines. It may be tempting to wake up a little later some days, to follow the flow of the day versus your typical schedule, to be a bit more loose and flexible with time since you are home all day long. But do not forget that structure is a way of organizing your life so that it makes sense to you. And in this time of uncertainty, this may be one of the few ways to have some sense of control and predictability! When you follow a consistent routine, you wake up with a sense of ownership & order; a sense of purpose and direction. Following a schedule and implementing your own structure also means there are fewer decisions to make, helping you avoid decision paralysis. Routine also helps negate the need for willpower and motivation. So, just keep in mind that structure, schedules and a routine can provide that needed familiarity and predictability in this uncertain time.
4. Team Work! If you have children at home, one of the best approaches I can recommend is to create a team mentality. Present to the whole family the idea that working together as a team will help everyone win (and end the day in smiles versus tears). Be creative and select a team name, giving each family member a title and a list of their daily role/responsibilities. Create a point system so the kids can “score” when they cooperate; completing school work, staying quiet during conference calls, spending time outdoors getting fresh air and exercise. Invite your kids to develop their independence skills, give them choices whenever possible, and provide as much visual support as needed (timers, checklists) and verbal praise when deserved. We really are asking our children to take on an unfamiliar role and added responsibility they are not used to! Help them feel useful and feel like they are contributing to your family’s success and well-being.
Have you found a “magic bullet” that is helping you not just survive but thrive while working from home? I would love for you to share your successful strategies – or your challenges!! When you learn to manage the distractions, you will find the power to maintain peace and productivity.
To Your Productivity~