Fending off interruptions as you work from home can seem like an endless battle. Here are some tips to try before tossing in the towel.
Work interruptions are probably one of the most frustrating aspects of telecommuting. No matter how many “Quiet!” signs you post around the house, or how often you tell people you’re working, folks think nothing of disrupting you while you’re trying to work. What can you do, short of screaming bloody murder? How about trying out some of these less frightening tricks?
Look right through people
Have you noticed how quickly a conversation dies out when someone appears not to be listening? This trick is easy to perform with the help of some earplugs. When someone approaches you, give them a blank stare while pointing at your ears. In no time at all they will know that when you’re working, talking to you is futile.
Additionally, wearing ear plugs allows those around you to go about their routine without have to worry about being constantly shushed or asked to leave the room. It’s a win-win!
Become a ghost
Set specific times each day when you answer the phone and refuse to answer until those times. You could record a message that informs callers you are unavailable between the hours of, say, 9:30am and 3:30pm. Tell them if the matter is urgent they can email you.
If someone calls just to “shoot the breeze” they probably won’t bother to leave a message or to email you. If a situation is important the caller can leave a message, knowing you will get back to them soon.
You can’t expect people to take your need to work seriously if they periodically see you posting comments on Facebook or Twitter during your stated work hours. Even if you’re simply taking a coffee break, it leads people to believe you’re available for a while or, worse yet, you weren’t really working at all. Do your best to avoid social media during the period you’ve set for working.
Create an indoor repository
If family members want to talk to you have them write you notes and drop them into a box placed just outside your work area. Post the time(s) you will check the box.
Chances are whatever they want isn’t important enough to bother writing it down. Or, by the time you read their mail, what seemed so dire thirty minutes to an hour ago has lost its urgency.
Run for the hills!
Or the coffee shop, or library. You might be wondering why you should have to leave the house if you’re supposed to be working from home. Getting out a few hours a week to a different atmosphere will do you wonders, I promise.
Libraries, in particular, are conducive for writing or other activities that require long periods of quiet. And, when you return to your home office you will feel refreshed.
Working from home isn’t always a walk in the park. It can be frustrating—sometimes infuriating–dealing with frequent interruptions by those around you. These simple tricks are ways to help you set and protect your boundaries before you begin to feel like telecommuting is anything but a treat.
Your turn: How do you deal with work interruptions?
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