Working From Home Distractions: 8 Causes and Cures

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woman working from home
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Monday November 2, 2020

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Have you decided to work from home permanently? Whether by necessity or choice, the situation offers tons of advantages.

One of the primary drawbacks is that distractions can keep you from completing your tasks on time. Racing to finish your duties before bedtime can leave you feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Here are eight work-from-home distractions and how you can address them. 

1. Your Lack of Direction

If you recently began working from home, you might feel like a rudderless ship. What do you work on first? You might find the decision fatigue overwhelming. 

Procrastinating while you figure things out leads to guilt. The feeling that you’re accomplishing nothing turns to panic, and you start to question your abilities. 

Cure: A Planner

Fortunately, there’s a painless cure for this phenomenon — an old-fashioned planner. Before you wrap up your day, make a to-do list for the following morning. Instead of wondering where to start, you’ll jump right into your duties. 

2. Your Tummy Tiger 

It’s not near noon, but your stomach rumbles like the threat of a summer storm. You know you should wait, but the kitchen is right there

How long would it take to rustle up some grub? Come back and answer that question after you spend 15 minutes staring alternately into the fridge and freezer, hoping an easy snack miraculously appears. 

Cure: Meal-Prep 

Working from home does not mean you can give up on meal planning. Continue using a slow day to chop and store ingredients in easy-to-grab snack-sized portions. Stock your freezer with make-ahead burritos you can nuke in seconds. 

3. Your Messy House

If you don’t mind clutter, you might walk right by the pile of laundry on your bedroom floor like it’s nothing. However, if you have Tidy-Tina tendencies, you won’t focus on earning money until you fold it and put it away. 

The problem compounds if you have a spouse and kids. They might overlook the stack of dirty dishes in the sink if they know you typically take care of it. 

Cure: A Dedicated Workspace

You wouldn’t be thinking about vacuuming if you were at the office. Create a similar “commute” from household duties by designing a dedicated workspace. Once you enter, you can leave only at scheduled break times. 

4. Your Spouse and Kids 

It wouldn’t be a Zoom meeting without an uninvited guest shouting, “Mom! So-and-so took my toy.” You know to turn your video off when you’re painting your toenails, but your spouse might lack the tact to refrain from an inappropriate, “Is that stupid meeting over yet?” 

Cure: A Thinking Cap 

If you have an office door that closes or locks, you’re fortunate. For those who have to work in the living room while their child homeschools at the dining table, you need a signal for when mum’s the word. A designated hat you call your “thinking cap” or even the blazer you save for video calls can alert the family that they shouldn’t interrupt. 

5. Your Roommate’s Loud TV

Your roommate works second-shift, and you don’t want to deprive them of the latest episode of “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” However, you can hear their TV through the walls, and it’s frankly distracting AF. 

Cure: Noise-Canceling Headphones

Solve your problems with a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. While they may set you back a pretty penny, you can make do with a less expensive version if you stream relaxing and nondistracting background tunes. 

6. Your Smartphone 

Do your cellphone’s alerts trigger you like a bell does one of Pavlov’s dogs? Turning off the volume doesn’t help if visual indicators make you wonder what’s up. Plus, you don’t want to miss a vital text or call. 

Cure: Lock It in a Drawer 

Apply a two-part cure for this one. First, go into your phone’s settings and turn off notifications for all unnecessary apps. Then, lock your phone in your desk drawer. You’ll still hear it ring, but you won’t see visual clues prompting you to check social media. 

7. Your Social Media Feed

Is there no escape? Apps like Twitter, Reddit and Nextdoor all work on computers as well. What’s the harm in having them open in a separate tab? 

You find out quickly when 5 p.m. rolls around, and you haven’t finished your assigned tasks due to scrolling through your feed. However, the temptation to check can prove overwhelming. 

Cure: Set Parental Controls 

Take a clue from many HR representatives and remove the temptation by blocking certain websites from your work computer. If you use your device for pleasure, too, you’ll have to release the prohibition at day’s end. It’s still better than burning the midnight oil when you should be relaxing.  

8. Your Sense of Being Overwhelmed

You spent hours working on your budget report, but the numbers still don’t add up. You can’t see where you made a mistake to save your life. How much longer will it take before you figure it out? The stress makes you want to scream. 

Cure: Set Regular Break Times 

At such times, pushing through is sometimes the worst idea. Instead, schedule breaks and take them even when you feel stuck. A little distraction can provide room for the “aha” moment to click into place. Don’t stay at your desk — get up, go for a walk or chat with your children before returning to the grind. 

Eliminate Work-From-Home Distractions With These Eight Cures 

Working at home cuts your commute and provides respite from micromanagers who live to look over your shoulder. To succeed, you must first eliminate distractions, and the eight tips above should do the trick. 

Updated on February 23, 2024

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