I do not know if you're like me, but I dream of a job that gives me flexibility of time and location. I find myself searching through the employment ads of Craigslist.org or our local big classifieds site on KSL.com for legitimate jobs that allow for me to stay employed at home. Most are the "business opportunities" and are scams with companies trying to take advantage of the dreamers like myself. Truth be known, I do not know if I could handle a work at home job right now in my life. I have a three year old and a one year old at home, and a list of honey do's that keeps growing from my wife. I find coming to an office is a break at this point in my life, but I know many people may be ready for a work from home career.
That got me thinking and wanting to help others thinking about a work from home career or even thinking about getting their online degree. Those students who are able to develop the discipline to go to school, graduate, and get their online degrees are much further ahead in their modern day work ethics. There are so many distractions at our fingertips now a days that you really have to have a plan of attack to stay focused on tasks and to do what needs to be done. I thought I would try and put together a list of things that have distracted me when working from home and / or studying from home, and actions to overcome the distractions.
Distractions and Actions
* Empty Stomach
* Instant Messenger
* Unnecessary Programs
* People / Family
* Computers and Software
If you have a television in your office or study, remove it from your office or study or at the least, TURN IT OFF! If you're a YouTube addict, turn off YouTube. You can even block it using OpenDNS.com or other website blocking services. This can help you to overcome your YouTube addiction.
Have you ever found yourself jumping up out of your office chair and playing air guitar and taking the lead on the microphone, right in the middle of something very important that needs to be done? Well that's kind of distracting is not it? If your music is distracting you, then you should do something about it. Change what you are listening to, turn it down, or turn it off. Music during work and during studying is not meant for entertainment, it should support your mind in processing information.
When working at home it can be easy to just work in your underwear and not completely commit yourself to the day. I alway recommend taking a shower and getting ready just like you were heading into an office or up to school. This will help you mentally feel ready for the day and feel like you have already done so much. You should always be ready for any situation and respect yourself, your family, and / or your roommates with good hygiene. 🙂
An empty stomach can have a distracting effect. Make sure to feed yourself. You are less likely to get up and snack if you fill your stomach first. I know I often times find myself getting up and snacking all day long. Get what you need and bring it to your office. Schedule breaks for snacks, but treat them like mandatory 15 minute breaks every 3 hours or so. Do not make them every 10 minutes.
More recently I've tried to create a separate Instant Messenger account for work. This has preceded a lot of BS conversation. I know I start a lot of unnecessary conversation over IM. If you get enough friends, the IM conversations never end. Do not abandon IM altogether, but turn it off when working or studying. Instant Messengers can be a great way to network, but there should be a reason that they're on. Same can apply to Twitter. This applies to text messaging too. Turn off your phone if it's too big of a temptation and becomes too big of a problem.
I'm sure most of you have plenty of different programs from graphic design to Twitter programs. You should eliminate any distractions that are caused by idle programs. If you need a program you can always reopen it, but do not leave it sitting idle, shut it down. This will also improve your computer performance by not consuming computer resources.
Goals require game plans. Your work day or education should have some kind of a schedule. Just because your schedule can be flexible does not mean you just do things whenever. You should create a set schedule for working or for studying and doing homework. The flexibility should only be used when it has to be used. Remember that when you take some time out of your schedule you have to put it back in. Flexibility just means that things that are usually done at a specific time can be pushed off to another time. You need to make up any lost time without disturbing the rest of your schedule. This is often times the most important element when it comes to working at home or doing school from home.
People / Family
When working or schooling from home, boundaries need to be set with your family, friends, and / or roommates. They need to respect your time so you can keep your job and / or get your education. It is much easier for them to respect your time if it is scheduled out. When they do not know the next time you are going to be available, then it's easy for them to justify disturbing you. That's why a consistent schedule is so important. An office with a door and a lock never hurt at all either. It's nice to create a work / study space. Heck maybe even get yourself one of those "OPEN" signs or some sign that helps to illustrate to people that you do not want to be disturbed. You can teach your kids to understand the sign and to leave mommy or daddy alone when the sign is on.
The internet can be a distraction in a bunch of different ways. First of all the obvious, do not look at stuff that is unrelated to your goals and tasks for the day. I think the internet is the leading cause of ADD now a days. It's way too distracting and easy to lose your bearings for the day. Second thing that can be distracting is the speed of the internet. You have committed to work or school from home, invest in a decent internet connection. Find something that is quick and reliable. You should be able to write it off on your taxes so you might as well get the good stuff. Sometimes schools and employers will help pay for the connection.
Computers and Software
OK, the last one is the one you've all been waiting for. If your computer sucks and is slow, get one that will help you be more productive. A computer that just works and requires less maintenance. This is a loaded discussion. My two cents is to get yourself a Mac. Sometimes your employer or even your major at school will have required programs you have to use and may require a Windows machine or vice versa. Make sure to ask the right questions to your school or employer before getting a new computer. You may also find that there may be some software that will help you be more productive. Identify the things that you will be doing with the computer and get some programs that will help you be more productive. Again this should be a write off. When purchasing your computer and programs, ask about a student discount, most students get very deep discounts on software and computers.
Working from home or getting your online degree from home can be a difficult thing to do even though it looks much easier. It requires some organization and planning to make sure that your employer and schooling gets the necessary time and respect. You can apply these suggestions as a full time or part time employee. You can apply these suggestions as a full time or part time student learning their online degree or getting their online training. Make sure to organize what works best for you and respect yourself by executing what you have organized. Stay focused and good luck.