Managing Interruptions and Distractions When Working Remotely

Man working from home while child climbs on him

Working remotely has created some interesting dilemmas for employees. One issue is how to manage the inevitable interruptions. From kids to dogs to a chaotic environment, it’s hard sometimes to concentrate on our work.

If you find yourself in this position, here are a few ways to manage distractions when working from home:

  • Start with a clean environment. You’ll be more distracted when you’re working if you are surrounded by a dirty environment. To avoid this, get up early enough to spot clean your house before you sign into work. Put dishes in the dishwasher and clean off the counter. Perhaps straighten up our bedroom and living room. It’s just mentally less taxing when you know you aren’t walking into more work when you leave your office.
  • Set up your space. Think about how you can organize your space to be conducive to work and less distraction. Remove extra clutter and set up your desk for efficiency and organization. You can even consider what colors you paint your office to either be stimulating (yellows or reds) or calming (greens and blues.) If there’s a lot going on outside your window, you might turn your desk so that you’re looking the other way.
  • Limit your social media time. With its addicting nature, social media is one of the biggest interrupters of our work. There’s no easy way to deal with this but to buckle down and just turn it off. If you’re really attached to social media and check it multiple times an hour, perhaps set an alarm on your phone once every few hours where you allow yourself 10 minutes to check posts and respond to DMs. The same discipline will be necessary for personal emails, texts, and other videos and alerts.
  • Write it down immediately. One fallout of working remotely and dealing with interruptions and distractions is losing your train of thought. When this happens, you could easily forget what you were just thinking or working on. To avoid this, immediately jot down something when it comes to mind. You can use the Notes app on your phone or a pad of paper that sits right by your computer. When you consider that poor follow up could cost you a deal, this tiny effort can make all the difference.
  • Set expectations for your family. When working from home, it’s important to set and uphold expectations for those who live with you. It’s easy to think mom or dad is approachable any time of the day when they’re home, but rules must be set you are working just as though you were at the office. You could explain that when you shut your office door, you are only reachable by text or phone, just as though you were away. Placing a Do Not Disturb sign on the door usually helps serve as a reminder too.
  • Have messages for visitors. There’s nothing more disruptive than your pack of dogs going wild when the doorbell rings. And if you don’t have pets, the doorbell itself can interrupt a conversation or your concentration. This is easily overcome by placing notes on your door for your visitors. You could leave one as instructions for people making deliveries, and you could also leave one letting your neighbors know you are working and when you will be available.
  • It might be time for a pet sitter. If you’re not having luck with notes on the door instructing visitors what to do, or you just have noisy pets, it’s also important to think about having someone else to care for them during the day. Plus, pets are cute, and you may just want to give them your time instead of that critical report you’re dreading to edit. There are doggie daycares where you can take your furry friend for the entire day or getting help with walks and feeding may be enough to curb this distraction. You’ll be able to judge just how much of an issue this is by your need to mute your mic and yell at your dog to be quiet or just how much you’re tempted to play or cuddle with them.

For all the benefits of working remotely, getting easily overcome by things outside of work that demand your attention is a major downfall. You’ll need to judge for yourself how much of a problem with concentrating on your work, but there are solutions to most of these distractions. Some will require discipline on your part and others will have outside solutions. The benefits of working remotely are still many, and managing these interruptions is one small hurdle to overcome.

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