6 Time Wasters to Avoid When Working from Home

woman working from her couch

This is a guest post written for the MELD Coworking blog by Adrian Agawin.

Due to the pandemic, many companies across various industries have enforced mandatory work-from-home guidelines to continue their business operations and prevent further revenue loss. This remote management work set up has become the “new normal” for many employees and employers.

Before the novel coronavirus outbreak, people thought that remote work or telecommuting was only for online-based companies. But since businesses are forced to adjust and adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic, the truth behind people’s common work from home misconceptions start to unveil through experience.

If you’re one of the many employees who suddenly find themselves telecommuting, below are some handy tips for working remotely that will help you eliminate distractions and boost your productivity. Let’s get started! 

woman playing on her smartphone

1. Your smartphone

If placing your smartphone on your desk when you were working in the office distracted you from your computer screen, then what do you think is happening at home — now that there are no bosses who can see how much time you spend scrolling through your mobile apps? Every notification you receive instantly calls for your attention.

To avoid getting distracted whenever your phone lights up or dings, make sure to put it on silent which includes switching off the vibration. Moreover, put it where you can’t see it—as they say, out of sight, out of mind. Of course you can still check your phone, but limit it to certain times of the day (like during lunch breaks) and for several minutes only.

social media icons on a phone

2. Social media (and the internet in general)

Sure, you may hide your phone away from you which prevents you from checking your social media and online shopping notifications. But if you can still access these platforms on your browser, then hiding your mobile isn’t enough.

If you’re having a hard time restricting yourself from accessing your social media accounts and other time-wasting websites, consider installing a website-blocking software or browser extension to help you stay focused on your tasks.

You can check out tools like Freedom, LeechBlock, RescueTime, and StayFocusd. Distraction-blocking tools should be your last resort if you think you really aren’t disciplined enough to stop yourself from accessing such sites.

woman working at home next to her dog

3. Email and instant messaging

Often, the thought of your work emails stacking up and sitting on your inbox unopened is enough to put you off in the middle of work. Although these emails are work-related, they can interfere with your current tasks. You might think that constantly checking your emails and responding to them is productive.

If it reaches the point where it gets in the way of ticking your tasks off your to-do list, it’s high time that you schedule specific window times when you check your inbox and respond to emails. You can also turn off your email notifications so every pop-up doesn’t distract you from the task at hand.

4. Household duties

House chores are unique to remote workers. In the office, you probably will not cook your breakfast and lunch, wash the dishes, run a load of laundry, or take care of your child in between meetings. This isn’t to say that you should ignore your housework.

Much like when in the office, you can squeeze in some phone calls and run a couple of errands. You can do the same at home since there’s no escaping them. But don’t let household chores take over your work. During your work hours at home, make sure you don’t do heavy tasks.

woman working with her kids playing behind her

5. Noise

How is the noise environment in your home? Your kids or husband could be playing games, listening to music, or watching TV in the background while you work. These loud activities can interrupt your thought process, making it challenging to get work done.

Moreover, noise from your own creation such as the music you’re playing or the loud dishwasher can also be the culprit. Ask if your family can keep the noise down while you work. Meanwhile, avoid doing chores that cause a lot of noise. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your work, move to a quiet place where you can amp up your concentration.

6. Distracting family members or pets

While it doesn’t sound nice calling your family members or furry friends distractions, they may start to get in the way of your work and become a distraction. Talk to your family members and get them on board with the time you need to accomplish your work. You can give them a signal when it’s okay to interrupt and when it isn’t.

If there are times when you need to do urgent and critical tasks or have to deal with a ton of meetings, consider heading out to do your work in a coworking space. These shared workspaces can help you escape the noise and distractions at home and motivate you to get things done as if you’re in an actual office. 

team working at a coworking space

Summing it up

When you finally identify the biggest time wasters that plague your productivity when working from home, you can remedy them quickly and immediately. Hopefully the points above can help you work more efficiently and comfortably.

Since you’re looking for ways to minimize distractions and boost your productivity, why not host an employee engagement activity with your team? This can be a healthy break from work that can improve company morale.