I’m all for being as sociable and friendly as possible. But – and it’s a big but – when it comes to time management, if you don’t nip the constant distractions in the bud, you really will suffer the consequences.
Whether you work for yourself, or in a large organisation, there will always be that one person who wants to chat all day long about everything and nothing.
When you work from home, that person might be a relative, close friend, or even a neighbour who has spied that you are always indoors and has cherry-picked you for their daily nitter natter.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is being able to establish that you are working. Then to let the good news filter through to the distractors. You aren’t on your own – here are a variety of ways to accomplish this.
Set Some Core Working Hours
The easiest and most important way to let impromptu visitors and talkers stop being a distraction is to you when you are working is to establish working hours.
You can do this by hiring a nanny or mother’s help (the latter being the cheaper option); putting up a sign, turning your phone and other notifications on mute; and letting the people around you know that you have set work hours.
This simple step will also help you to be mentally prepared for work.
Set Up a Designated Workspace
Another key component to working from home is to have a set workspace. Somewhere in your home where you work and somewhere you only go when working. This can be a corner in your living room or in an office – outside your home. These days, you can hire hotdesks very affordably, and they might be a viable option if you just need a space to get away.
Another option is the good old coffee shop. I always joke about a particular Starbucks and Café Nero being my second offices. I have two premises that I can work from, plus a study at home, but there is something about working in a buzzing coffee shop, caramel latté on tap, and a reasonably good wifi connection that helps me blitz through a month’ worth of admin in a four-hour focused session. Only I know which coffee shop I go to, so the distractions that come during the day are only those I allow.
The point here is to make your workspace as defined as possible. Some people use a desktop computer as a way of creating the cubicle feeling they get in a typical office environment. Others use their laptop in the same location over and over. Choose whatever works for you.
Once you have a set up your workspace and announced your working hours, you will have a much easier time saying ‘no’ to talkers or other distractions. If your friends or family ask for chats and get-togethers during your work hours, you will have a real reason (not excuse) to decline and explain that you are working politely. If you respect your time and your business, eventually the people around you will start doing the same. The firmer you make your boundaries, the harder it will be for you and them to break them.
Make an Agreement With Yourself
One thing you can do is to make a contract with yourself and not break it.
They will serve as a reminder for you whenever you are torn between what your heart says and what you need to stick to it. And when you feel guilty about not dropping everything every time someone asks you to.
Write down a list of policies for avoiding talkers and visitors and stick to them rigidly.
Here’s to freedom to freedom to get ish done in peace!