As a mother, it’s inevitable that interruptions and distractions become an every day part of life while working at home.
It’s the moment most mothers dread at the time and laugh about afterwards…
You’ve just started a webinar with 50 people in attendance and suddenly your 4 year old magically appears and announces to everyone he wants to talk to you…
OR you’re on an important live video call and your significant other enters the room behind you in just his undies with many women watching on in fits of historical laughter…
OR you have an important deadline to meet, and your children or significant other are constantly interrupting you and impeding your progress.
Working from home gives you the freedom of being your own boss, creating your own schedule and the flexibility to work as little or as much as you want.
However it can be filled with mildly awkward, frustrating and highly embarrassing moments, disturbances and demands.
While there may not be a solution for entirely eliminating distractions, there are boundaries that you can establish and tricks to implement that make the situation workable.
Step 1: Determine when are the best times to work in and on your business
Create a clear and consistent work schedule with specific days and times for when you will be working.
Ideally, focused work would be scheduled when you have the home to yourself. Some children are good at occupying themselves, however this only works to a point. Inevitably, you’ll feel the frustration and guilt of dividing your attention between your business and child.
This might mean you’ll choose to get up early, or work either during your child’s nap times, when he or she is in childcare or at school, or late at night when the family is asleep.
As with all things in a successful business, consistency is key. However, you should have some flex to adjust your schedule to suit you and your family’s needs.
Step 2: Communicate boundaries with your family
Often, significant others and children don’t realise that being at home doesn’t mean you always available to chat, have coffee, schedule lunch or play dates.
Have a conversation with your family to ensure they all know the importance of limiting distractions.
Communicate when it is appropriate to interrupt. Provide examples of interruptions that are “urgent and important” (e.g. emergencies) “important and non urgent” and “not important and not urgent” (e.g. where is my teddy bear?)
Set your boundaries and clearly enforce them.
Step 3: Set up your physical environment to reduce interruptions
Create a designated workspace in a quiet part of the house and have visual cues to show you don’t want to be interrupted (e.g. close your office door).
Switch your phone to silent, turn off email – your inbox is the aggregation of everyone else’s to do lists – and do not engage with social media.
Wear noise-cancelling headphones if you work in a noisy environment and again, be flexible in where you work if the home doesn’t suit: cafes, library’s and shared working spaces are surprisingly effective here.
Step 4: Plan ahead to minimize disruptions
It’s frustrating when you’re interrupted for things that can be done without you.
Create a central location for information, resources and supplies. Communicate where they are located ahead of time to help your family
Plan meals and find ways to occupy restless and demanding significant others and children during working hours and client interactions.
Further, invest the time to effectively plan your time! Each month set your top priorities for the business. Conduct weekly planning sessions to establish what must be achieved that week, including anything that rolled forward from the previous week. Every day set your immediate priorities to remain focused.
Always have clarity of purpose in every business action you engage in.
Step 5: Remain calm and go with the flow
There will be times where you cannot plan or control everything that happens in your home and business.
However, the key here is to remain calm and positive: even when your child is shouting at the top of their voice, has been sent home unwell or is otherwise interrupting you from client interactions or completing deliverables.
Observe your self-talk, take a deep breath, adjust, refocus and go with the flow.
So, are you interrupted when working at home? If so, please share how you deal with your interruptions.