How to Avoid Costly Distractions While Working at Home


I was wondering over the weekend how much the World Cup is going to cost self employed people, freelancers and everyone else for whom time is money.

I have to confess that I started to think about this while I was plonked in front of the telly with a glass of something cold in my hand and some calorie-filled treats on the table in front of me. I should have been writing an article at the time but the lure of Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina was just too much to resist. Of course, costly distractions don’t just come around every 4 years. You can lose money like this at any time, so how can you avoid distractions while you work?

Don’t Mix Work with Pleasure

If you work from home then mixing work with pleasure can be really easy to do. In the room where I have a computer there is a TV set and I’m often tempted to stick it on in the background. As much as this might liven up proceedings, I just think that my productivity would plummet if I allowed Big Brother, football and the rest of the shows into my place of work every day. Equally, when I work I never have Skype, Facebook or Twitter open either. I guess the simplest way of putting this is to say that you should treat your place of work in the same way you would if you were at an office or a factory to earn money. Just because you’ve got slippers on and a cup of tea in your hand doesn’t mean that you can sit back and relax all day long.

Have a To-do List

When I sit down in front of the computer with only a vague idea of the work I need to do I find it very easy to waste time and float about from one thing to another without really doing much at all. On the other hand, when I have a clear to-do list in front of me I can work in a far more focussed way. One of the problems with being your own boss is that there is no one to tell you what to do and when to do it. If you find that distractions are easy to come by when working at home then you might discover that having a clear list of what needs done is a big help. I tend to write my list for tomorrow at the end of the day, so that as soon as I sit down in front of the PC I know what I need to do and don’t have any reason to waste time.

Let People Know You Are Working

Another potential problem with working at home is that you might be seen as the person that can do any jobs needing done. If a light bulb needs changed, the grass needs cut or more cheesy biscuits need to be bought then the person sitting apparently idle in front of a computer is often a good choice to do it. Some of these jobs might only take a few minutes but they will have the effect of ruining your concentration and making it difficult to get into what scientists call “a groove”. A simple solution is to let everyone know that you are working and don’t want to be distracted for the next few hours. They might simply not have known this until you point it out to them. Knowing that you have a few hours in which no one is going to disturb you means that you can settle down to the serious business of working and earning money.

What other ways have you found of avoiding those distractions that can cost you a lot of money?

4 Responses to How to Avoid Costly Distractions While Working at Home

  1. I have run my own business for the last 20 odd years. During that time I have always had problems with people assuming they could distract me whenever the mood came over them. When I tell people I’m working, that I’m in that “groove” they get annoyed and don’t believe me. This was a particular problem in my last relationship. It is, I think, a matter of respect. When you have it, people will leave you alone. If you don’t ….?

    • Robert Bell says:

      I agree Brad. It is really a lack of respect when someone doesn’t give you the chance to get on with your work

  2. This is something I’m working on now. I split my time between working at home and working in the office, and my home-time productivity is awful. But my at-work productivity could also be better. (See? I probably shouldn’t be reading blogs while at work, right?)

    • Robert Bell says:

      It’s definitely a tough thing to do Rebecca and I reckon anyone who has ever worked at home has come across the same issues

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