Finally, someone who understands. In his FreelanceSwitch article How to Work at Home When Your Life Is a Complete Madhouse, Greg Scott paints a picture I can relate to. Some home offices come with their own living, breathing distractions.
Many of you work in a home office. Are there children in the home when you’re trying to work? How do you handle the distraction?
I have six distractions. Most of them are older, so the main interruption to my work is when they need me to drive them places. But my youngest is only three. And he’s here all the time – often with no one to supervise him except me.
Greg Scott has two young distractions in his home. Here is how he describes it:
I’ll be honest– my home life is completely insane. My house is like a zoo with two feral monkeys on the loose, tearing apart everything they can get their little hands on.
There are spills, wrecks, crying jags, minor explosions, loud thumping sounds (heads on walls probably), and occasional horror-movie-style screams. It’s amazing that two tiny people can create so much chaos.
How can you be productive in that environment? Greg has five great tips, which are definitely worth reading. And I’ll add my two cents worth.
I relate most to Greg’s third tip, “Rearrange your sleep schedule.” The best way to avoid distraction is to work when the kids sleep. I used to be a night owl, but these days I’m more productive in the morning. For a while I got up at 4:30 every morning, and got three or four excellent hours of work in before driving the kids to school. That was amazing, but hard to maintain. These days I set an alarm for 6:00, but if I wake up earlier (I sometimes do), I get up and start working.
Another way I avoid distraction is to get out of the house – I physically separate myself from distraction. I try to work away from home for a few hours every day, but in practice it’s more like two or three times a week. I grab my MacBook Air and head to the library, or a coffee shop, or McDonalds. McDonalds works well for me because a few of my kids work there, and they rarely finish on time. So rather than getting frustrated when they finish late, I get there early and get some work done. Sometimes I wish they finished even later.
I also look for ways to help me focus on my work, even if for relatively brief periods of time. After a few experiments with various methods, I’ve settled on the Pomodoro technique, which I’ll speak about in a future post.
I think Greg’s best advice is also his most difficult: “Don’t get stressed.” If my son needs a drink or some attention, I give it to him, then get back to work. If he needs a lot of attention, I give it to him, and work some other time. If I accept that this is normal and OK, I don’t get stressed, and come back to work with renewed energy.
How do you cope with distractions when working from home? Please let us know in the comments.