Many distractions can fill your work-at-home day, taking your mind off your work and your deadlines.
Here is a lighthearted look at ten ways you can be sidetracked from the task at hand, as well as some advice on handling procrastination and dealing with distractions.
Check Your Email Every Few Minutes
You might receive an important work-related email, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your email. Actually, you’d welcome any new email, even one of those scam emails that tells you’ll win a million dollars if you reply with your bank details.
Surf the Internet
You need to do some online research for a project you’re working on, but, for some reason, you keep coming across interesting articles and clicking on links that have nothing to do with your work.
Make Yourself a Cup of Coffee and a Snack
It’s no more than 20 minutes since your last cup of coffee but you’re feeling thirsty again. It’s time to go to the kitchen and make yourself another drink and, while you’re there, perhaps a snack would be in order. You’re feeling a bit hungry and it’s at least two hours until lunch time.
Check the Mail Box
You wonder if the mailman has left the mail yet. Perhaps that book you ordered from Amazon has arrived. You’d better go down and check for the fourth time today.
Do Some Housework
It’s impossible to concentrate on your work when those dirty dishes are screaming, “Wash me!” and the dirty kitchen floor is shouting “Clean me!” You’ll just have to do some housework before continuing with your work.
Run Some Errands
You really should go down to the post office and send that t-shirt that you sold on eBay and pick up your dry cleaning on the way back. It’s difficult to concentrate on your work with other items on your to-do list running through your head.
Think about Your Health
You’re not feeling well — you have a pain in your shoulder and your leg is aching. Perhaps you should go online and see what might be wrong with you, or call the doctor to make an appointment, or better still, phone a friend and talk about how you’re feeling. After all, it’s not a good idea to work when you’re sick, is it?
Take a Nap
You didn’t sleep well last night as you lay awake worrying about your deadline. Now you feel ever so drowsy. Perhaps you should lie down on the sofa and have a quick cat nap.
You wonder what’s happening in that soap opera you watched during your lunch break the other day. Then you remember that it’s not on for another three hours. Perhaps another interesting programme is on TV — why not switch it on and take a look?
Call a Friend
You suddenly think of a reason to call a friend. You could wait until later, but it’s always a good idea to discuss topics that are on your mind right now, isn’t it?
Is this Normal?
All small business owners have some days when they achieve very little because they are overwhelmed by distractions.
If you normally work productively at home, a day during which you’re perpetually distracted may be beneficial because it can serve to remind you that there’s more to life than work.
What Can You Do if You Procrastinate Regularly?
If, however, you procrastinate on a regular basis, you should take action.
Start by eliminating items from your personal to-do list outside your normal working hours. Run errands in the early morning and do housework in the evenings, for example.
Each day, make sure that you have enough non-work time to yourself for some activities that you enjoy, such as watching television, socializing with friends and surfing the Internet.
If you don’t feel deprived of free time, the desire to devote some time to yourself is much less likely to encroach upon your work time.
If you still find distractions a problem, exercise some self-discipline by, for example, keeping your email and browser closed while you’re working.
Set yourself a time limit before you’re allowed to leave your desk and make yourself a drink or a snack. One short break every 45 minutes to an hour will help keep you focused on your work.
If you still find it difficult to concentrate on your work, consider working in a coworking space with other small business owners or renting a small office in a business center.
This will remove you from the distractions of home and provide a professional working atmosphere, as well as opportunities for meeting and collaborating with other small business owners.
One of the benefits of being a small business owner is the flexibility of being able to fit other tasks and activities into your working day. However, once these activities threaten to overwhelm your working day, it’s time to take action to ensure that your livelihood is not destroyed.