How to Distraction-Proof Your Home Office

Most entrepreneurs spend some — if not all — of their time working from a home office. But if you have pets and family members at home or neighbors in close proximity, it can be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. Here are some strategies for turning your chaotic workspace into a sanctuary.

Wear headphones. Many entrepreneurs love working with music in the background, while others find it tough to focus on their work instead of a singer’s words. If multi-tasking is difficult for you, try listening to classical music or instrumental rock instead of music with lyrics; create a station on Pandora or another free Internet music service to find some work-friendly musical selections. If you don’t like listening to music at all while you’re working, buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which will tune out the barking dogs and screaming kids nearby.

Use a white-noise generator. Love the sound of the rain falling on the roof? Get a white-noise generator (which you can purchase either as an electronic device or a piece of software for your computer), and tune in to your favorite soothing sounds. If you live on a busy road, a white-noise machine is an ideal solution for blocking out irritating traffic noises and replacing them with natural sounds or barely noticeable static.

Create an “office hours” policy. It can be tough to shut out your kids and other family members, but when you’re working, it’s important for them to recognize that you shouldn’t be interrupted unless absolutely necessary. Come up with a standard “office hours” schedule, and ask your family members to pretend you’re not there during that time. If something urgently requires your attention during that period, ask your family members to first listen at your door to make sure you’re not on the phone, then knock and wait for your response. Make sure to create a schedule for play as well as work, though: Take time to actively engage with your family when the workday is done.

Switch up your working hours. If all the distraction-proofing you can do doesn’t make working during the after-school hours any easier, maybe it’s time to switch up your routine. Instead of trying to work amidst the noise, take time off to play with your kids after school, and make up the hours in the evening after they’ve gone to bed, or early in the morning before they wake up. When you’re your own boss, you can control your schedule: Just make your new hours clear to clients and employees, and include your new office hours in parenthesis next to your phone number in your email signature.

Have other ideas for getting rid of distractions in them home office? Share them with us in the comments.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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