The Easiest Ways to Work Smart at Home

The Survival Wall of Efficiency

So you are sitting down to work, and your phone buzzes, your email dings, your child is at your door, asking for something, and a friend calls to remind you to get the theater tickets.  What to do?  How do you avoid the everyday interruptions in your work, especially when you are working for yourself? How do you become efficient when you are working at home?

1.  Make appointments with yourself.  Your calendar has been used for keeping track of social activities, now use it for yourself.  If you need to call for tickets, put it on your calendar, then you know when you will do it.  It doesn’t matter if it feels routine, or if it seems to be something that you can “fit in” while you are doing something else.  Put it on your calendar, and get it off your mind.

A woman at work

A woman at work

2.  Have a place to work.  Your kitchen table might be a wonderful flat surface, but it is close to the coffee pot and the refrigerator.  Even if you resist the distractions of food, you will be hit by thoughts of needing to take food out for supper, needing to buy more, wondering what your children are doing at school, etc.  I am not saying that the kitchen table will never work as a workspace, but it tends to have associations of family and home life.  A work space, even if it is a particular counter in the kitchen that is set up with the materials that you need for your work, will be better.

3. Have a work time on your calendar.  Know when you will work and when you will run errands and when you will relax, make phone calls and go for a walk.  When the thoughts come up, “Oh I should run this errand,” the time needed for the errand is accounted for.  Work time is also accounted for.  Once you have work time, and you have work space you will find that your family will learn to respect that. They will know when you are working and when you are available to them.  (Don’t set yourself up to fail.  If you have very young children, you cannot ignore them.  Arrange for day care either inside or outside of your home so that their needs are met.)   Work time will be more successful if you are available to your children when they are leaving in the morning and when they return home from school.  You can be available for 1/2 to 1 hour at that time, then get back to work once they have the appropriate supervision.

4. Do the most difficult task first.  That way it will be out of the way, and the day will look easier from then on.  Let’s face it, the easier work is also the more fun to do, and that alone will reduce distractions.  After all, one reason we give in to distractions is because they keep us from difficult or unpleasant tasks.

5. Do the most important work first.  That way you will have accomplished something significant with your time, and you will be less pressured during the rest of your day.  Once you have accomplished something important you will feel good about your day, and it will be easier to enjoy the work that you are doing for the rest of the day.  More pleasure = fewer distractions away from your work = more efficiency at your work.