Creating a Distraction Free Work Environment
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
The pandemic forced most corporate offices to close months ago and many employees had to set up home offices where they continue to conduct much of their work. While working from home has some benefits it also has its share of distractions. Here are some tips for staying focused and maximizing your productivity in a home work environment:
- Use your home office space only for work - You should associate your home work space only with work. Sitting on your bed or the couch shouldn’t be an option. Set yourself up with a work computer and an official “office space”. While a separate room is ideal, the reality is it may be a nook or designated desk area.
- Stick to a schedule - Just as you require a physical space devoted to working, you need to set aside time to do the work. When you’re at home, the lines between work and home can become blurred and you may be tempted to do “double duty” with home activities. A traditional schedule of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. may not be feasible, especially if there are little ones at home, so be creative, if you can. If you’re an early bird, for example, the quiet morning hours may be more productive.
- Provide others with your ground rules - When working from home, others may think they can have more frequent access to you. Interruptions from kids, calls from family members and friends will happen more often if you let them. Let others know when you are working and not to disturb you. Close the door, put up a sign and assure others you’ll interact with them later.
- Clear the clutter – Your desk, computer and phone can all be distracting if there is too much stuff sitting around and to many apps, emails and tabs open. Take time each week to organize your desk and project documents, do a quarterly email and digital document clean out, and don’t be afraid to trash unnecessary items.
- Stay on task - Help yourself stay on task by turning off notifications on your phone and email and have set times for dealing with messages and answering emails. Batching your communication tasks will end up saving you time and keep your mind focused on completing work projects.
- Take breaks and socialize - Working straight for 8 or more hours is actually not a good option as research has shown. Try to focus for 90 minutes or so on a task then take a break to move and reenergize yourself. It’s also important to stay connected with colleagues, friends and family. Schedule calls, meet for lunch or play outside with your children to stay social.