Working remotely is no longer the oddball alternative that it once was. Thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to run an entire business from anywhere in the world. With a good laptop, a mobile device and a solid broadband connection you can share files in seconds, collaborate on documents, connect with internet telephone or videoconferencing and basically do everything you would do from the office. Instead, you get to incorporate your work more seamlessly with your life and work from a home office, the coffee shop or wherever you may be. But whether you’re the entrepreneur behind a startup or one member of a busy department, you’re going to have to navigate all of the distractions that come with this new structure. It’s one thing to want the freedom working from home provides, and another entirely to maintain your focus and get quality work done. Here are five common ways people waste time when they work from home, so you’ll know if you’re entering a serious period of procrastination.
One of the most common ways is eating. Some people eat when they’re anxious, some when they’re bored. But unless you create specific breaks for snacks and lunch, that refrigerator can become a major time waster. The middle of your working day is not appropriate for trying out a complicated new recipe. You cannot step away from your desk every ten minutes for a piece of fruit or a candy bar. Think about your kitchen as you would the break room in an office. If you were hanging around in there four times an hour would someone make a comment? Hold yourself to the same standards, and you’ll keep your work deadlines and your waistline in order.
Cleaning can also be a major time waster. Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your space to be tidy. But are you heading for the vacuum because you can’t face the project staring at you from the computer screen? Even though you work from home, you’ve got to be diligent about how you use your time. You don’t have to punch a clock, but make sure if you do step away from work it’s because there’s no other moment that activity can happen. Cleaning the house can wait until at night or on the weekends, which is much more appropriate.
The television can also be a huge distraction. This is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to set up your home office in a separate room with a door you can close. You want to keep a boundary between work life and home life, even though they are now geographically connected. So hide the remote, don’t think about all of the soap operas you are watching, and if your kids come home and throw on cartoons you should head to the coffee shop. You’re not working from home so you can watch daytime TV, no matter how fun and addicting it might be.
You might think that handling other life chores during the work day is important. But you’re not on vacation, and you’ve got to be very careful about this behavior. You might feel like now is the time to tackle things you’ve been putting off, like finally finishing that scrapbook or getting in all of your doctor and dentist appointments. Relegate them to one day a week, and make your schedule work around it.
Possibly the biggest way people waste time working from home is by surfing the internet. There’s no limit to the online world, and you could literally spend your entire morning catching up on sports, hunting down the latest celeb gossip and wandering the social networks. If you were the boss and you looked over your shoulder would you be happy about this? Pick and choose your online moments, and don’t waste your day constantly checking email. If it isn’t helping you grow your business or complete projects, it should probably wait until later.