More people than ever are making the shift from their office to their home, allowing them to complete their workload from the comfort of their own environment without noisy coworkers, stressful commutes, and strict schedules to hold them down. However, working from home isn’t all sunshine and daisies; in fact, there can be many distractions keeping your productivity level low.
Here are four reasons why working from home can be distracting:
1. More Pressing Issues
The benefit of working from home is a flexible schedule. If you were working in an office, your cat knocking over a fish bowl, your toilet backing up, or the laundry needing done wouldn’t be known to you until you came home. While this does allow more freedom to multitask and balance your personal life with work, it provides its own set of distracting issues to keep you from actually working.
- Handling household chores.
Those breaks in between workloads would normally be spent in the lunch room, surfing the internet, or walking around the office, but by working at home, this free time can be devoted to doing the laundry, bathing your pets, or making sure that your children are behaving. All advantages, sure, but it becomes increasingly easy to handle more of these tasks than your paying ones. “I’ll put a quick load of laundry in the washer, and then go back to work,” becomes, “while I’m at it, I might as well organize my shoes, or feed the dog, or make the bed…” until hours have passed and the work needing done is neglected in favor of other productive but distracting tasks.
- Handling outside emergencies.
If your neighbor found themselves in need of borrowing your lawnmower, they would normally wait until normal working hours had ended and they knew you would be home from the office before asking. However, if they know you’re home, it’s much more tempting for them to ask then and there, interrupting your work. These impromptu emergencies that could have waited are now immediately in your focus, and the same applies for when your pet makes a mess on the floor and your bathroom sink’s faucet breaks, and this causes your work to take a back seat instead – significantly lowering your productivity.
2. “You’re Not Really Working”
Anyone who has worked at home realizes that sitting on the couch in your PJs with a cup of coffee and your laptop is not always what it seems. While the image projected is “wasting time,” you are actually knee deep in a project that could bring your business outstanding profits. Other people such as roommates and family may not draw this same conclusion, and if you’re not really working, then what stops them from interrupting?
- Constant interruptions.
If your toddler really, really, really wants to show off their newest drawing at that exact moment, they have full access to come up, demand your attention, and bring your productivity to a screeching halt. If your roommate wants to ask you a quick question that won’t take much of your time, it doesn’t matter if it only took a moment – your productivity has been stalled. In an office, a worker at a desk typing away is a clear sign to “wait until later,” but the same does not always apply at home, causing a stream of distractions that hold you back.
- Fear of constant interruptions.
Perhaps you have a quiet day where no neighbors are asking for lawnmowers, no children are vying for your attention, and no roommate is asking you “just a really fast question,” which would draw your attention away from work. However, this does not mean the end of distractions. Working from home makes you available, allowing people to take advantage of this availability to the max – and after a while, you begin to expect them to. The sound of footsteps outside your room can make your brain seize, expecting the knock at your door and the inevitable distraction; even if it never comes, you have still lost your focus and the momentum driving you towards greater work.
3. Lack of Schedule.
A flexible schedule is the most appealing aspect of working at home, yet it also offers one of the greatest dangers to successfully working at home. Since you are essentially your own boss, there is no one else looming over you to ensure you come to work on time, work the necessary hours, and avoid longer breaks than necessary. This does make working much nicer, but it’s a burden in disguise.
- “I’ll finish later.”
When distractions arise or the workload is just a touch too straining for the day, having the option to put off the tasks until later is as easy as closing your laptop. When you have the entire day at your beck and call, what stops you from simply doing it later that night, or in another hour, or in another four hours? Unfortunately, you are now making yourself even more available for distractions, which develop into greater distractions, which result in the day being gone and your work not being finished. In essence, “finishing it later” becomes a distraction of its own, preventing you from ever doing so.
4. More Appealing Things to Do
Of course, people are able to distract themselves better than anyone else. With the freedom to work when you want, how you want, who is there to tell you “no” when that Facebook tab looks at you longingly? While doing a load of laundry may be a simple temptation to avoid, the appeal of surfing on the internet for a while, having a snack, or taking a quick nap can talk you out of work faster than the interrupting roommate or distracting toddler.
Working from home is the dream situation, but while it offers a reprieve from many distractions, it encourages them in other places. The only way to make working from home as productive and comfortable as you imagine is by identifying these distractions and then putting barriers and tools in place to avoid them.