While it’s so exciting to be working from home and earning an income, entrepreneurs and bloggers who work from home trade in their commute and office politics but acquire a brand new set of distractions in their house. What often starts out as, “Let me throw in a load of laundry first,” can turn into doing other household chores, paying bills, or grabbing a quick bite to eat while watching your favorite show. Before you know it, the school bus is about to roll up and you have no idea where your day went.
Close The Door
A couple of easy ways to block out distractions while working from home are to close the door to your office and to turn your telephone ringer off. With the door closed you won’t see the laundry or dirty dishes. Psychologically, the closed door helps tune out the world so you can focus on your work.
Turn Off The Phone
The same can be said of the silent telephone. Set specific times that phone calls will be returned – you could even let your friends and family know about this policy so they don’t panic if you don’t pick up on the first ring.
Close Your Email
Many online business owners complain that answering emails and spending time on social media are the biggest ways they waste time. Granted, answering emails is important and if you send out 50 responses, that can be seen as productive. However, keeping the email window open on your computer tempts you to always watch that screen, which takes away productivity from the project at hand.
As with the silent telephone, set a specific time where you will answer emails or, if you can, hire a virtual assistant to sort them into order of importance. If the VA is familiar enough with your blogging practices, she can even respond to emails on your behalf while you focus more on the money-making aspect of your blog.
Be Choosy With Your Social Media
Social media is one of those necessary evils…it’s incredibly powerful when it comes to forming relationships and publicizing events or products but it’s so easy to become distracted by following multiple conversations. And if you decide to spend 10 minutes playing one of the Facebook games, those 10 minutes often becomes an hour or more.
To combat wasting time on social media, choose which platforms work best for you and also create a comprehensive plan for how you’ll use social media. Don’t just log on to Twitter to get the latest gossip. Have a reason for being there and remember that engaging your followers on social media is vitally important before you’ll see any profitsas a result. Ask them questions, create a survey, share a relevant news story or give them a special discount coupon. It’s not all about promoting your blog; it’s much more subtle and dependent on forming a relationship.
After you choose which platforms to use, consider using automated social media software such as Hoot Suite or BufferApp. These web-based softwares allows you to plan out your days’ worth of postings so you don’t have to be watching the screen all day, waiting for some interaction. Hoot Suite also links your Twitter and Facebook accounts so you can see everything on one screen and also so you can post the same thing to each account simultaneously.
Your followers will expect to get responses to any questions or interactions they post that day so your live presence at some point is required to make the most of social media, but these two tools can help you streamline a lot of your social networking.
If you really can’t trust yourself not to wander online during work hours – LeechBlock is an add-on for Firefox and Chrome which allows you to block certain sites during certain hours of the day. During the one-time setup, you select the sites and the times and then set a password. When you visit one of the ‘forbidden’ sites, you’ll see a blocked message, which is supposed to get you back to focusing on work.
LeechBlock also has a feature that monitors how long you spend on certain sites during the allowed time frames. If you like to play the Facebook games during off hours, you’ll be shocked at how much time that adds up to! This simple little add-on might just spur you to get off the computer or at least spend your online time more wisely.
Change It Up A Bit
If worse comes to worse, and you’re able, pack up your laptop and work from the library or local coffee shop that has wifi. Some work at home entrepreneurs and bloggers like having the change of pace and will schedule this one day out of the home office every week. Having the change of scenery might invigorate you and knowing you only have a set amount of time before the kids get home from school or before the establishment closes should spur you into action.
Take Some Time To Evaluate
The important thing to do is really evaluate what your time suckers are and develop a way to deal with them. I can guarantee that your productivity will vastly improve when these distractions are gone.
What Do You Think YOUR Biggest Time Waster Is?
Mine has to be email – I get on to reply to a couple of emails and before I know it, I’ve been dealing with my inbox for almost an hour! This week, I’m going to try setting certain times during the day that I can even check email – and then limit that time to just 10 minutes.
What’s your biggest distraction? How will you combat it this week? Share in the comments below!