One of the most valuable benefits to making your living on the Internet is that you can work from anywhere. You could be hanging out on a beach in the Bahamas, sipping on some espresso in Florence, or navigating through a computer lover’s paradise in Taipei. If you’re online, you can make money.
And while traveling around the world and experiencing difficult cultures certainly has tremendous appeal, realistically you’ll be spending more of your time working from home with a reasonably flexible schedule. This becomes a double-edged sword, of course, as your home is rife with distractions and opportunities for procrastination. How can you avoid these distractions and actually get work done?
Start with a Dedicated Space
The first thing that you’ll want to do is to establish your home office. It can be awfully tempting to take your Macbook, wander over to the living room, and “work” while catching up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones, but let’s not kid ourselves. You’re not going to get much work done when you’re distracted by white walkers and dragon mothers.
The simplest solution is to convert a spare bedroom into a proper home office. This needs to be your dedicated work space, a room that you don’t use for any sort of “pleasure” purposes. If your home gets busy, it also means you can shut the door and focus on what you need to get done.
Put Your Phone in Another Room
Hear me out. I know this is going to be hard, but it could be for your own good.
A recent study found that the average person checks their smartphone 85 times a day. Assuming that you’re not checking your phone in your sleep, that’s an average of about once every 12 minutes.
Maybe it’s a text message. Maybe it’s a Words with Friends notification. It doesn’t matter. If you’re allowing yourself to get distracted by your phone five times an hour, it takes you that much longer to get your head back into the task at hand. Most notifications can wait. Get up every hour to stretch your legs and that’s when you can check your phone for a couple minutes.
Close All Unnecessary Browser Tabs
This is a piece of advice I should really give myself. Far too often, we find ourselves opening far too many browser tabs and we can easily get lost or distracted in the mix.
For example, I have the unfortunate habit of leaving my Gmail tab open all day. Each time I get a new email, the tab will show “Inbox (1)” and I can’t help but to want to see what that message is. The same is true with your social media dashboards or with Facebook.
Close all of those unless you are actively using that tool or that information. Like having your phone in the other room, this places your browser-based notifications out of sight and temporarily out of mind.
Trust the Pomodoro Timer
Zero distractions and zero breaks make dot com moguls go something something. It’s unreasonable to think that you can buckle down and grind it out for eight hours at a time. That’s hardly the dot com lifestyle either.
Integrated into a number of online productivity tools is a paradigm called the Pomodoro timer. The idea here is that you focus exclusively on a task for 25 minutes at a time and then you force yourself to take a five minute break. During that break, you can distract yourself with whatever you want.
If you really buy into this framework and stick with it, you will get more done and in less time. And you’ll be happier and more fulfilled too.
Get Out of the House
Sometimes, the distractions of working from home are unavoidable. Maybe you’ve got children running around the house, demanding your attention. If you really want to focus on your work, whatever that work might be, you may need to get out of the house.
Depending on your circumstances, this can be as simple as setting up a workshop in the garage or just a quieter part of the house away from all the home life bustle. Otherwise, it’s not difficult to pack up your laptop and get some work done at a coffee shop, airport lounge, or car dealership.
That’s part of the beauty and the power of the dot com lifestyle. You can work where you want and when you want. And sometimes it takes shifting both the where and the when to get away from life’s little distractions.