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How to Avoid Interruptions when Working from Home

Over the past few weeks we’ve been bringing you news of the gig economy, what it is and how to make it work for you if you’re a small business owner here in the UK.  Last week, we had some advice for you on working from home, as so many workers in the gig economy do – keeping yourself organised takes a level of self-discipline that’s to be admired as there are so many distractions available to us.  We promised that this week we would take a look at one of the most challenging problems faced by those of us who work from home – avoiding interruptions which cut into your work time, making your workday longer than it needs to be.

Working from home has many benefits and not too many disadvantage, one of the most difficult disadvantage to deal with is the constant stream of interruptions that may occur, whether from family members, pets, friends or callers knocking on the door.  We’ve all seen the comical viral footage that emerged online last year of international relations expert, Robert Kelly being interrupted by his children during a live interview with the BBC.  Whether your work is internet or workshop based, avoiding untimely distractions is vital for sanity and success.  You need to set clear boundaries:

  • Your first tactic in avoiding interruptions is to have The Talk with your family – make sure they all know just how important it is that you work effectively whilst at home.  Make a clear rule that you’re in a “No Interruption Zone” at specific times.  Keep your office/workshop door closed with a sing on the door saying “Sorry, we’re closed right now”.  Make sure they have examples of interruptions that are acceptable so that they know they can disturb you in a real emergency – after all, you don’t want to be sat at your desk whilst your house burns down around you or if your car has been stolen.
  • Set “Office Hours” – designated times during which you cannot be interrupted and make sure everybody in your household knows what these are.  To make sure you keep to these hours, use an alarm to alert you to the end of your “shift” or use a timer app on your computer to log time.
  • Friends and neighbours sometimes get the impression that you’re available all the time because you work from home.  If anybody calls at the door or phones, explain politely that you’re working right now but would be happy to see them later at a time you designate.
  • Screen your phone calls and only respond to work-based calls during your working hours (unless it’s an emergency, of course).
  • If you have kids, you may need to consider working elsewhere during the school holidays as interruptions from the children are likely to increase.  If relocating to a different work place is not possible, you will have to make sure the kids know that you’re not available during your working hours, even if they are on holiday.

Limiting interruptions will lead to a more productive work day for you and reduce the amount of work-related stress you encounter.  It’s challenging to do, but absolutely essential if you really want to succeed in your work from home job.