How to Avoid Distractions When You Work from Home

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In a post-pandemic world, it’s no surprise that more and more employees now work from home full-time or in a hybrid-fashion. And the number one challenge of those employees? Distractions. There are so many distractions throughout your home that prevent you from accomplishing your remote work. As a work from home employee myself, I completely understand these challenges, and can’t wait to share today’s blog post with you today, How to Avoid Distractions When You Work from Home. Let’s get that work done so we can spend more time focusing on what matters!

Set Your Phone on Focus Mode

This is an amazing tool for iPhone users that want to avoid distractions with their remote work. It’s like “do not disturb” or “airplane mode”. While your phone is in focus mode, your phone will pause any alerts and notifications to your phone. You can turn focus mode on manually when you start working, and then manually turn it off when finished, or you can set focus mode to automatically to turn on and off at specific times, during specific days. I love focus mode because it also tells people who have contacted me that focus mode is on, so they don’t think I’m deliberately trying to ignore them.

Lastly, if you have certain people in your life that are important and need to be able to contact you, even during focus hours, you can find their contact information and mark them as a favorite so they can interrupt focus mode. I have my husband, parents, siblings, and boss set up as favorites.

Turn the TV Off

You can keep telling yourself you can work from home while watching TV, but the reality is you absolutely 100% will find that you briefly moved your attention to the TV just to “watch a moment” of the last scene on Grey’s Anatomy, and next thing you know 5 hours have passed with no work done, and you actually did not avoid distractions while you work from home. But at least now you know how to diagnose pediatric TBI, right?!

woman sitting on the couch watching tv

Find a Great Digital Calendar and To-Do List

Everyone has their preferences for remote work, some prefer the pretty productivity options like Milanote, others prefer options that are easy to use, such as Google Calendar. Regardless, I recommend finding a digital calendar and to-do list so you can access your work on the go from your phone, or from your home office computer.

Google Calendar

I personally love using Google Calendar and Microsoft To-Do. I use Google Calendar for all my personal events like doctors’ appointments, date night, etc. and I enjoy it because I can share my calendar with my husband! This way, he knows when my doctors’ appointments are, can make sure he’s off to attend them, and I’m able to see his work shifts each day. You can use Google Calendar for literally anything, such as grocery shopping, when you want to exercise, scheduled calls with your friend, etc. I also use my google calendar for work items. I’ll add any meetings, the title of each blog post and when they will be published, etc. You can even color code items on your calendar to categorize events as personal, work, medical, etc.

Microsoft To-Do

Further, I use Microsoft To-Do to manage my weekly tasks. I will add the smallest details like calling a doctor to reschedule an appointment, posting on my social media account, finding photos to add to my blog posts, etc. I love Microsoft To-Do because you can add deadlines and reminders to tasks, then Microsoft will notify you of the task you need to complete at the set time. You can view the entire to-do list at once, or you can simply look at what tasks have a deadline today, etc.

Typically, I organize my calendar and to-do list at the beginning of each week, so I know what’s happening, and then modify daily as needed. I start my workday checking both my Google Calendar and my Microsoft To-Do list, so I know what needs to get accomplished and what commitments I have for the day. I would be completely unable to avoid distractions while I work from home without these tools!

Find a Favorite Playlist to Work from Home to

Research has shown people avoid distractions best while working to an instrumental playlist. This is because the words in songs, podcasts, or audiobooks are much more likely distract you. However, many people (me included) don’t care for instrumental playlists, as they’re often slow, lulling you to sleep. Avoid using these playlists!

Instead, find instrumental versions of songs and artists you love to keep you motivated and excited for your remote work, while not distracting you. I love to listen to my favorite movie scores, like Harry Potter or Black Panther, along with music loops from various lands in Disney. If interested, you can simply search items like “Animal Kingdom music loop” or “Main Street USA music loop” on YouTube. I also love these because they typically last at least an hour, so I’m not interrupted as often, trying to find my next playlist.

woman sitting on the couch with a laptop in her lap and headphones on.

Complete the Biggest, Most Difficult Task First, Then Reward Yourself

A trusted mentor once gave me the advice to complete the biggest task or the task you’re dreading the most, first. She said in considering the task, if all you accomplished that day was one task, which of the tasks would you still feel accomplished in completing? This should be your first task of the day.

Likely, you’ll feel a ton of relief after completing the task, and you deserve to reward yourself after! The reward will keep you motivated to complete the task, as you have something to look forward to afterwards. Personally, I like rewarding myself with a cup of coffee on the balcony before returning to my remote work. For ideas to reward yourself with, check out this post.

Work from Home During the Hours in Which You are Most Efficient

After many years in the workforce, I know I’m most efficient in the morning. As the afternoon passes, my brain fog gets worse, so I most definitely work best from 7am-4pm. At the same time, I have friends that would get absolutely nothing done during those hours, as they are most efficient in the late evening.

Instead of working during traditional hours, spend some time paying attention to your productivity and decide what hours seem to be most efficient for you. Then, try to work during those hours moving forward.

Overhead photo of a cup of coffee, glasses, flowers, a notebook, and a laptop computer.

Take Micro-Breaks to Complete Household Tasks

Research has shown productivity is higher when you engage in many short, small breaks throughout the day instead of staring at the computer, trying to work for 8 hours straight with no breaks. I enjoy using these small 5-10 minute breaks to complete household chores like laundry, unloading the dishwasher, dusting, etc. This way, I still feel productive with my breaks, but I’m able to take a short rest from the computer screen.

Spend 10 Minutes at the End of Your Day Decluttering Your Home

Nothing is more distracting than spending the day trying to work but getting interrupted staring at your cluttered household. If I know there are household tasks that I need to complete, I constantly feel the pressure of the chores, impacting my work efficiency. Set up tomorrow’s remote work day for success by spending 10 minutes at the end of your day today clearing the clutter in your environment.

woman tidying her living room

Get Ready Before Starting Work

Everyone has different levels of how much “getting ready” they need to do to feel productive, but just about everyone I’ve talked with has said that when they do certain things to get themselves ready at the beginning of the day, they feel more productive as they work from home.

I personally feel much more productive after I’ve washed my face, brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, and gotten dressed in a real bra with no sweatpants. At the same time, one of my good friends feels more productive once she takes her morning routine a step further to do her hair and makeup before starting her remote work. It’s worth it to spend some time playing around with your morning routine to find what things you should accomplish in the morning to feel like your best self when you show up to work.

Set Boundaries

As a people pleaser, this is one of the most challenging ways for me to avoid distractions when I work from home, yet one of the most important! You see, if you don’t set boundaries with yourself, friends, family, and coworkers, you will find yourself getting very little done each day. You must take the steps to set boundaries with remote work if you want to be successful.

Some boundaries that have helped me and others include:

  • Removing your work email from your phone
  • Having a dedicated workspace – one where you can shut the door and avoid distractions if other people are in your home as well
  • Not allowing friends and family to invade your productivity hours
  • Actually observing time off, and not allowing work to invade personal time

Consider Changing Your Environment

If you feel particularly unmotivated in your current space, try changing up your environment! This can happen in many ways. If you are able, try working from a local coffee shop or nearby park for a few hours! I live near Disney World and feel so much more inspired and motivated when I try working from a nice Resort! If you unable to work outside your home, you could try working from your backyard or patio, or working from a different room in your home.

Lastly, if you find you’re consistently unmotivated to work in your workspace, try reorganizing and redecorating the space. Visit a decor store like Target or Hobby Lobby and purchase a few items that fit your space and feel motivating or inspiring to you! Even just one new item can help me feel reenergized in my workspace.

Person sitting on a balcony with a laptop in their lap and their dog laying next to them on a pillow

Conclusion

There you have it, How to Avoid Distractions When You Work from Home. In closing, all the tips I’ve provided essentially boil down to finding the settings and methods that allow you to do your best remote work, and then maximizing those strategies for your best productivity! I hope this has been helpful for you, and if it has, send this post to a loved one who works from home so they can find some tips too! Take care!

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32 thoughts on “How to Avoid Distractions When You Work from Home”

    1. Right! When I make the task to big, I can rarely keep up with it long-term. I have to break down tasks into small goals to make it effective!

  1. Love all of these tips! Starting off with the biggest and most important task is such a great tip as it takes a lot of stress out of the rest of the day! Also literally listening to Disney Area music as I type! Love it as background music!

    1. Right, I feel an immediate relief once I get the biggest/most important task out of the way! It’s my favorite background music to work to 🙂

  2. These are great tips! I often find that I have two work-from-home modes – my unmotivated and my very motivated. Unmotivated is working while finishing that Grey’s Anatomy episode you mentioned, motivated is turning on my favorite up-beat playlist and powering through! It helps that I blog for a living.

  3. I work 3 out of 5 days from home and I love it! I declutter at the end of a day and the start as well (haha can you tell I have a little kid) otherwise I can’t focus!

    1. The hybrid work environment seems to be the best of both worlds! Haha, yes I’m the same! I have to clear the clutter before working or else the work just won’t get done.

  4. This is a fantastic list of how to avoid distractions when you work from home. I really need to set my iPhone to focus mode. I find that this is the biggest distraction for me. Also, I love your idea to create a work music playlist.

    1. One day it’ll happen!! It’s definitely nice to get the work out of the way in the mornings if that’s when you work best 🙂

  5. I like your idea to do the most difficult thing first and then reward yourself. Sometimes, my reward is mini break taking a stroll around my front yard with a coffee in hand and sit on my front steps for a few moments of sun now that the weather is changing. 🙂

  6. These tips are super helpful. I work remotely and have found that having designated office space and taking breaks throughout the day is the way to go! I love being able to get a couple of household chores done throughout the day!

  7. I’m hoping to work from home more in the near future. These are fabulous tips on avoiding distractions. I’ll keep these in mind for the future.

  8. Thanks for these useful tips. First time I hear about playing the instrumental version of your favourite songs. Great idea.
    I like listening to music while I work, but I often get distracted because I start singing along!
    Taking short breaks also helps a lot and is also healthier.

  9. These are so helpful! I love your tip on completing the biggest task first and then rewarding yourself. That’s helpful even if you don’t work from home or can easily be applied to other things like chores.

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