Working in your pyjamas from the comfort of your home office has great advantages and flexibility. But every good thing in life comes at a price. Similarly working from home and having flexible working hours has its own pitfalls as well. If you are not very very disciplined and if you can not drive away some very strong distractions then working from the comfort of your home could do you more bad than good. Let us take a close look at the most major distractions one by one.
1. Social Networking
Probably this issue has been discussed before in many blogs yet it is one of the most serious distractions ever for freelancers. How many times have you thought “oh let me just check up facebook for 10minutes before I start my work”, and how many times have you ended up spending an hours checking out photos of your friend’s latest Europe trip and commenting on it? Though this is the biggest issue discussed around the world still people are addicted to social networks like anything. According to mashable magazine (http://mashable.com/2010/08/02/stats-time-spent-online/) we spend 22.7% of our time on social networks and it ranks topmost on the list of online time spent.
2. Phone and Instant Messaging
Telephonic conversations and instant messengers come next. Think of a freelance coder who works from home. How much disturbance will it cause if his skype flashes every time he tries to ponder on a complex algorithm. It could be his client or it could be his friend but it will cause distraction for sure. My advice would be to stay in the invisible mode or even better log off totally to save your day.
I would say that email is a necessary evil. How often have you felt the urge to check your email immediately as it arrives. Statics say that most freelancers keep their inboxes open while working and feel the urge to check any email the moment it arrives. I would strongly recommend time rationing for email. Keep specific time to check your emails. Make it a habit to check your email maybe three or four times a day. Believe me even your clients would love this habit of yours. If you are thinking that you would lose client if you do not respond immediately then you are grossly mistaken. Clients would be happy to receive a response turnaround of 24 hours if their work is well done. So turn off that new mail notification sound and log off from gtalk so that pop up notifications do not distract you.
4. Excessive internet surfing leading to information overload
In today’s world of information technology there is no dearth of one thing, “information” . Information is the most ubiquitous commodity. There are millions of blog posts written every day and google claims that every minute 8 hours of youtube content is uploaded throughout the world. Hence naturally we have an urge to get bogged down by all those tremendously informative articles and videos. There are ebooks, tutorial sites, games, sitcoms, movies to add to the spice. The toughest job is to get your mind back on track from these information superhighway.
5. Messy workspace and desktop
Take a look at your tabletop and desktop minutely. Make a list of all the unnecessary items and papers lying over there. I am sure that barring a few freelancers most of the tabletops of our clan are cluttered with lots of items that we seldom or almost never use. Pens, pads, mobiles, ipods, calculators, physical mails, CDs, DVDs, pen drives, card readers, magazines are to name a few. These items create constant distraction for us. Freelancers working from home have to make it a point to clean their tabletops. Look at your desktop and you will definitely find icons and files that you did not use in the last six months or so. So my advice would be clear up the mess asap to avoid distractions from them.
6. Other distractions
There could be other elements of distractions for people who are working from home. There could be a household chore that you might need to attend, you could have a baby to attend to, some friend or neighbor could visit you in the middle of the day or it could be a family member who might call you for some reason or the other. The best thing to do is to educate your family members about the importance of your work since you are working from home. Make it known to them that you not to be disturbed while you are at your home office. It might be a neighbor or a friend who might come calling but the person who attends the door should say “no he is busy”. It might sound rude but it is the only way. Please should understand that just because you are at home does not mean that you are not doing anything worthwhile. It is YOUR duty to convey the importance of your work to others!
7. Some random thoughts
If you log your time some day while working, or better still, ask someone to log time for you then you might be surprised to find how much time you might be wasting unknowingly. You will find that many a time a short break turns out into hours or a small visit to facebook takes up two hours or so. Hence, you might also consider keeping a log sheet of your working hours and log how and on what you spend time on. Try by giving yourself breaks as incentives to your own performance. Like I will treat myself with a cup of cappuccino after I complete writing this post. I think its time for me to grab that cup while you ponder on how to improve on your working habits.
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