This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
10 Tools to Limit Distractions
While Working From Home
Working from home has many advantages. It's comfortable, good for the environment and can even make you a more productive employee. If you're going to stay productive while working remotely, though, you do need to limit your distractions.
As beneficial as working from home can be, it can also be distracting if you're not careful. To be your most productive self in your home office, you need to create an environment where you can focus. Here are ten tools to help you with that.
1. Your Phone's Silent Switch
Turning your phone on silent is an obvious step, but it's crucial enough to be worth mentioning. Your smartphone is one of the biggest distractions there is, especially when you're not in an office around co-workers. To minimize distractions, you should put your phone away and silence it.
Even if you aren't looking at your screen, constant notification sounds can be distracting. Stopping these notifications will help you stay on-task. If you need a phone for work, consider scheduling specific times when you check it or even using a landline.
2. To-Do Lists
Working from home can be relaxing, but too much relaxation can harm your productivity. To help stay focused, try writing, and adhering to a to-do list. As you keep working remotely, refine your to-do list to match your comfort and productivity levels, establishing a routine.
Building a routine gives you a better idea of what you can accomplish in a given time frame. Scheduling your day will help you stick to this routine and achieve maximum productivity. This process will also help you stay on-task without over-working yourself.
It's easy to lose track of time and spend too long on one task. If you use a timer, you don't have to worry about looking at the clock while working on something. It'll be especially helpful for time-sucking, less pressing tasks like checking email.
You can use a timer for every item on your to-do list or just breaks. Either way, it'll help you stick to your schedule and stay productive. If your phone is too distracting to use its built-in timer, you can get an app for your computer or a kitchen timer.
4. Website Blockers
Social media is so distracting that some employees spend up to two hours a day on Facebook while at work. Just telling yourself not to check social media while working may not be enough. Website blockers like Cold Turkey or StayFocused can remove these distractions for you.
These apps restrict access to any given sites during a set time frame. That way, you can block time-consuming distractions like Facebook or Twitter during your working hours. Many website blockers are free, but paid options do exist and often offer more features.
5. Email Managers
When you're working from home, checking your email is a necessary part of the workday. At the same time, it's not the most crucial task and can eat up a lot of time. Using an email manager app can help shorten the time it takes you to check your mail.
There's a lot of different email managers that offer a variety of tools and features. Most include things like automatic sorting to help you see the critical stuff and not the spam. Some even have mute features you can use to block notifications, helping you stay focused.
6. Productivity Trackers
Seeing the results of your workday can help you understand if and how you can improve your productivity. Productivity trackers like Hubstaff or Toggl provide you with this data. Using these apps, you can see how productive you've been, and if you need to improve.
Productivity trackers give you an actionable goal to pursue. Reaching for these performance targets will help keep you motivated and undistracted. You can further this motivation by rewarding yourself for better results.
7. Exercise Equipment
It may seem unrelated to work, but exercise can help you stay focused. At the office, you likely have to stand up and move around throughout the workday. When you're working at home, however, you may not get the same physical activity.
Keep some exercise equipment like free weights in your home office and use them every day. Taking a break or two to work out a little bit will help you stay active and attentive. Even though this takes time away from work, it'll help you accomplish more when you do work.
8. Office Appliances
Standard office equipment like printers and copiers aren't just convenient but can help productivity too. Working from home doesn't always feel like work, which can be distracting. Office appliances can help you make your home workspace feel more like an office, keeping you focused on work.
Making your home office comfortable is also recommended, but prioritize practicality over trendiness to minimize distractions. If your home office is too homey, you may find it hard to stay focused. Converting a space into an office, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.
9. Music Apps
Background music can help you stay calm and focused as you work. That doesn't mean you should blare your favorite songs throughout the workday, though. With apps like Brain.fm or Calm, you can listen to calming music that will help you focus.
Some music can be more distracting than no music at all. Focus music apps like these offer sounds specifically designed to help you stay on-task. That way, you tune out distracting sounds from around the house without distracting yourself further.
10. Videoconferencing Software
Working from home still involves communicating with colleagues. Methods like instant messaging or phone calls can make it challenging to stay focused on the conversation, though. Opt for using videoconferencing software instead, which is more engaging, so you're not as easily distracted.
Suggest to your co-workers and managers that videoconferencing may be more effective. Face-to-face collaboration, even if virtual, can help everyone stay present in the conversation. It also comes with the bonus of helping you fight feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Stay Productive at Home
Working from home may seem like a daunting prospect at first, but it doesn't have to be. If you steer clear of distractions, you can be even more productive than you'd be in a traditional office. Getting to that point can take some work, though.
These ten tools will help you deal with distractions or even remove them entirely. You can then comfortably work from home without any fear of being unproductive. Just because you're not in an office doesn't mean you can't contribute quality work.
About the Author
Kayla Matthews is a productivity writer and self-improvement blogger. You can read more work from Kayla on MakeUseOf, VentureBeat, TinyBuddha and Inc.com.
To support Kayla further, subscribe to her productivity newsletter.