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3 Hacks to Stop Home Distractions From Killing Your Productivity

Entrepreneur logo Entrepreneur 4/16/2020 Mike Schultz
a woman sitting on a couch with a laptop © Westend61 | Getty Images

Employees around the world are now experiencing what it’s like to work from home. As you adjust to this new work environment, you’ll likely encounter some unexpected hurdles along the way. 

Distractions. Lots of distractions. And they’re coming from all directions. 

Other adults in your household working from home with you?

Kids at home due to school closures? 

Constant Slack messages or emails from your colleagues? 

Continuous Twitter notifications with the latest COVID-19 updates?  

People and technology are taking over your time and your productivity takes a nosedive as a result.

One study found that people are distracted every 11 minutes. In light of today’s crisis, imagine how that frequency has increased.  

You need to find a solution and get back on track. Fast.

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research conducted a study on Extreme Productivity to understand what drives productivity. After analyzing data from more than 5,000 professionals, we found that extremely productive people (The XP) achieve better results than everyone else (The Rest) by following three keys. One of them being: Control Your TIME

To do this and combat all the distractions you’re currently facing, adopt Habit No. 6 “Play Hard to Get” from the 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity

We were already living in a world of distraction and now we’re dealing with a whole new set of culprits. Here are three hacks from Habit No. 6 to minimize the disruptions and signal that you’re not available. 

1. Be free from the shackles of alerts.

You might be experiencing an uptick in the number of messages you’re receiving now that you’re working from home. While communication is crucial, it’s also important to set boundaries so it doesn’t hinder your productivity.

Related: 4 Productivity Tips That Changed My Life This Year

Let’s say you’re working on an important report that a client requested and one of your colleagues is firing off Slack messages. Do you stop what you’re doing and respond? Or do you continue working on your client report?

The XP stay focused on their tasks. How do they do this? They signal that they’re not available by turning off their alerts. According to our research, The XP turn off their alerts 1.8 times more frequently than The Rest. 

There are things you can do to let colleagues know that you’re busy and not just blowing them off. 

If you’re on Slack, pause notifications and add a note in your status update of when you’ll be available. There are pre-set times starting at 30 minutes and go to four hours. You can also create a custom time notification.

Are you getting bombarded with emails? Compose an internal out-of-office message letting your team know that you’re focusing on a priority issue and you’ll respond when you have a chance. If it’s an emergency, they can call you.

A 2018 Deloitte study revealed that people check their phones 52 times a day. And that wasn’t during a global pandemic. If you can’t stop checking your phone, put it in a drawer or in another room so you can concentrate.

Don’t let technology and alerts steal your focus.

2. Signal “Do Not Disturb.”

Working from home with other adults, kids and even pets around can be very challenging. 

I get it. My wife and I are both working from home and have two young children and a dog. 

If you’re trying to escape those distractions, you can signal that you’re not available. The XP signal “Do Not Disturb” 3.4 times more frequently than The Rest.

Related: 6 Ways Daily Exercise Skyrockets Your Productivity

This can be accomplished by practicing any of these strategies:

  • Close your door: While adults know this indicates you’re busy, make sure you explain it to children so you don’t end up like Professor Robert Kelly did during his live interview on BBC News
  • Use headphones: Put on headphones even if you’re not listening to anything. This will indicate you’re focused on something else. For anyone who is familiar with our personal journey, you know living from the hospital for over a year was terribly distracting. But when I had downtime and could get some work done in the hospital lounge, I’d put on my daughter’s Princess Leia buns headphones. People assumed I was listening to something and didn’t interrupt me. Worked like a charm.
  • Put up a sign: If you’re trying to focus, place a sign on your door letting others know that you’re busy and to only interrupt you if it’s an emergency. 

Implementing any of these “Do Not Disturb” tips should help you concentrate and get more done. 

3. Be someplace else if you want to be productive.

If you’re working from home, you likely already have a designated workspace. But with the countless distractions and different schedules of those around you, this spot might not currently be the most productive place to work.  

If you normally work in an office, you could move to an open conference room or go to a coffee shop. But that’s not possible today.  

For instance, if I’m not able to work at my desk, near the playroom, I move to the outdoor patio table to escape the noise. If the sun’s out, getting some vitamin D is an extra bonus.

Related: 5 Daily Habits That Will Increase Your Productivity Levels

Consider different areas around your home where you can move should you need to switch things up and focus.

Current times are challenging. For some more than others. We’re all trying to navigate this situation the best way that we can. You might not be able to eliminate all distractions, some will be unavoidable right now, but implementing any of these three hacks may help you to control your time and remain focused on your work. 


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