Learn about the importance of creating sight and sound barriers when working from home.
- Staying focused is essential to positive time management. Yet, there are two trouble areas when it comes to working from home, sight and sound. It's very common to have little visual or audible distractions that pop up at home. To help you become aware of these distractions, which you may be enduring every day, I'd like you to do a little exercise with me. Find a timer of any type and set it for two minutes. During the two minutes, sit quietly in your workspace and pay attention to what you see and what you hear.
Write down anything that comes to your attention that might be a potential distraction. Pause this video, sit quietly for two minutes looking and listening for distractions, and return after you've completed that and written everything down. Did you do it? Great, let's talk about some common things that may have popped up, and some solutions for them. Can you look over your desk and see people walking by, or even worse, see something like a TV screen showing commercials, news, and sports scores? If possible, try to create a visual barrier beyond your desk.
One option is to place your workspace in a corner of a room. While it may be more aesthetically attractive to have a desk in the center of a room, it's often less functional. It's better to work in a corner wall where you can't be visually distracted. At the very least, put up a visual barrier such as a temporary room divider. What about the lighting of your workspace? Are you able to see everything clearly? It's good to have a little indirect light to the side of you.
Avoid having direct light behind you, especially if you're looking into a computer monitor. This will cause glare and eyestrain. But, be cautious. Every window is an opportunity for visual distraction of what's happening outside. If you're often getting distracted by things that are outside, then you may want to close the shades or even consider using a translucent covering that allows light through, but obscures visual distraction.
Now, what about sound? When you listened, did you notice sounds from children in the house, or nearby construction, or a dog barking outside? The ideal solution is to select a soundproof office away from sources of noise. Yet, I recognize that's not practical for most people working from home. You can do two things, however. One, perhaps the simplest, is to use a set of headphones. Some people are more productive while listening to music.
But if you're like me and find that music is distracting to you, then use a white noise generator, or a white noise track. For example, on my phone I have a 10 hour track of waterfalls. It helps me stay focused and simply drowns out all the other distractions. If you don't want to wear headphones for extended periods of time, perhaps use larger speakers or a simple white noise generator, like a fan. One home-based entrepreneur I coach was constantly distracted by his children running around outside.
While he wanted them to be able to come and get him in case of a true emergency, the rest of the time it was just distraction and noise that pulled him from what he should be doing. He got an inexpensive fan and put it in his office, and the accompanying white noise drowned out the harmless, but distracting, sounds of his children playing. Any visual or audible distraction that you identify is an opportunity to improve productivity. By taking just a little time to create barriers in your home workspace, you'll gain significant time and focus in the long run.
- Creating a productive environment
- Creating a balanced schedule
- Using virtual meetings
- Staying responsive
- Balancing roles as a parent, caregiver, and professional
- Managing interruptions and emergencies at home