Category: Work at Home

6 Distractions that Hurt Your Productivity When You Work at Home

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Working at home presents challenges to your productivity that are not found at an office. That means you must learn how to avoid distractions and be your own supervisor so that your work actually gets done. Take a look at these six distractions that I have a hard time dealing with while I am trying to do my freelance work.

Watching TV

My favorite place to work is on the couch in my living room because I can put my feet up and use my laptop. However, the living room is the only place in my house where there is a TV. This presents a problem if I want to get some work done but my husband wants to watch the news, sports, or anything else at the same time. It’s too easy for me to get absorbed in a show and not do my work.

I don’t have a problem with TV when my husband isn’t at home because I don’t turn it on. There’s nothing good to watch on TV during the day anyway. The problem is when I am trying to do work in the evening during prime time TV. Plus, the background noise of sports drives me crazy.

Looking at Social Networks

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It helps me stay connected with friends and family, but it also distracts me from my work. I try to only look at Facebook a few times each day so that I can get my work done.

If I have a tab open in my browser for Facebook, it constantly interrupts me with updates, which of course I have to go check right away. I check my other social networks a couple of times each week, but Facebook is the only one that really absorbs my time.

Playing Computer Games

I play lots of computer games, but I have a particular obsession with Candy Crush at the moment. The problem is that I start playing it and then the next thing I know, 20 minutes have passed where I’ve gotten no work done.

I’m not saying you should never play computer games; I’m just saying you shouldn’t play them during the day when you’re supposed to be working. I even try to avoid them when I am taking a break because I don’t want to get distracted for too long. I know Candy Crush is just a phase for me, but there always seems to be some computer game that distracts me, even if it’s just good, old Minesweeper.

Doing Chores Around the House

Housework is a major distraction to me because I have a hard time concentrating when things are messy around me. I’m always worried that somebody is going to stop by my house while it is a wreck. So, I have to exercise great control not to do the dishes or mop the floor if I have a close deadline to meet. I like to get everything in my house straightened up before I go to bed so that it is nice and clean when I start work in the morning.

Listening to Music

Some people find that music helps them be more productive. I think it is more of a distraction, especially if there are words because I start singing along instead of concentrating on what I am writing. However, I occasionally do turn on some quiet or classical music as background noise so I can learn to work with noise. You’re lucky if you can be productive while listening to music.

Caring for Children

Freelance writing is one of the best jobs to have as a work at home mom, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time on the phone. However, childcare is still a major distraction. You’re kidding yourself if you think you can work as much once you have kids as you did before.

For some reasons, people always ask me to watch their kids. They think I have the time because I am always “at home.” You have to really train your kids to be independent and know how to behave while you’re working, and this isn’t something that other people’s kids understand. if you’re asked to watch other people’s kids, simply explain that yes you are “at home,” but you are “working.”

For more information, read, “6 Ways to Stay Organized and Productive When You Work at Home.” It is possible to be productive and learn how to overcome your distractions.

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How to Avoid Eye Strain When Working on a Computer

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Eye strain is a common complaint among people that work on computers. As a matter of fact, Healthland claims it affects 64 to 90 percent of office workers. That’s bad news for us freelancers that spend most of our time in front of a computer screen. Luckily, there are several things you can do to minimize your eye strain discomfort.

Image via Flickr by bark

Adjust the Height of Your Monitor

Firstly, make sure the height of your monitor is adjusted to your eye level. In general, the top of your monitor should line up with your eyes when looking straight forward. This reduces eye strain because it’s much harder to look up than down. The top of your monitor can be a little bit higher than eye level if it has a larger screen.

Depending on the height of your desk and the length of your torso, you may need to elevate the monitor on your desk to achieve the optimal height. It’s better to adjust the height of your monitor than the height of your chair. This is because poor posture and improper chair alignment leads to back discomfort and other problems worse than temporary eye strain.

Laptops present an increased risk of eye strain because they typically sit much lower than eye level. Elevate your laptop as much as possible with a cooling mat, laptop desk, or anything else you can find to reduce eye strain.

Adjust Your Computer Display Settings

Poorly adjusted computer display settings also cause eye strain. Very bright screens and very dark screens are hard to focus on, which means they require your eyes to work harder. Try to adjust your monitor somewhere in between the brightest and darkest setting where your eyes are comfortable. You may need to adjust it several times throughout the day as the lighting in your room changes.

The contrast and temperature settings also make a difference on eye strain. One thing you can try is to reduce the amount of blue color. Blue light is harder to focus on than red and yellow because it has a shorter wavelength.

Another setting you can change on your computer to reduce eye strain is font size. Large text is easier on the eyes than small text, so adjust the zoom in both your word processor and internet browser. There is a typically a zoom setting at the top of your word processor and you can adjust font size in an internet browser by holding CTRL and moving the scroll on your mouse.

Wear Glasses

One of the best things you can do to reduce eye strain is to wear corrective glasses while working on the computer. Everyone’s eyes get progressively worse each year and eye strain is one contributing factor. Even people with nearly perfect vision can benefit from computer glasses. You can get special lenses that filter light, reduce glare, and compensate for any vision impairment you have.

Before heading to your eye appointment, measure the distance of your eyes from your computer screen. This helps your optometrist create the best glasses prescription for you to use while at your computer. People get glasses for driving and reading, so why not computer work, too?

Take Short Eye Breaks

People tend to open their eyes more when looking at computer screens and this dries them out. Dry eyes contribute to eye strain. Eye drops help, but it’s not a permanent solution. However, you can minimize dry eyes by blinking often and taking short eye breaks. My father-in-law is an optometrist and he told me to look away from the computer screen every once in a while and focus on something far away. If you have difficulty remembering to take eye breaks, download a break reminder app.

If you have problems with eye strain, these tips will help you minimize the effects and be more productive while working on the computer. Do you have any other suggestions to help freelancers and other office professionals suffering from eye strain? Leave a comment below.

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4 Ways to Deal with Freelancer Loneliness

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When you work at home, you don’t get the same kind of social interaction as when you work in an office. This can make you feel lonely at times. If loneliness is something that happens to you as a freelancer, take a look at these four ways to deal with the problem.

Do Your Work in a Public Place

Sometimes when I feel lonely I grab my laptop and hop in the car in search of a place to work that is away from home for the day. This could be a park, café, library, or even a university. The only thing I care about is if I have access to free WiFi. Getting out of the house helps me combat the feelings of loneliness simply because I have a change of scenery and it takes my mind off my loneliness. This isn’t a permanent fix to feeling lonely, but it can help you feel better for a day. Plus, working in a public place occasionally gives me the opportunity to meet new people.

Connect with Other Freelancers

Another thing I like to do to combat feelings of freelancer loneliness is to create unofficial coworkers. You can do this by meeting other freelancers in your community or chatting with people in similar circumstances online. I am a member of several online freelance communities and I’ve made quite a few friends and connections this way. I know I can turn to my unofficial coworkers if I need motivation or just want to talk about a project that I am working on.

Make More Time for Friends and Family

As a freelancer, I sometimes feel like I work all day, every day. And, this actually is the case some weeks. However, all that working makes me feel lonely. The only way for me to keep my sanity during these hectic work weeks is to build in time to see my friends and family. Even a chat on the phone with someone helps me feel less lonely. I aim to chat with a friend at least once a week and to see family that often, too.

Volunteer Your Time to Local Charities

Another option for getting social interaction is to find places in your community where you can volunteer. Schools always need people to help kids with their reading and most communities have homeless shelters and other causes where you can help out. This will help you feel less lonely as a freelancer because you’ll get interaction with other people and get away from your computer at the same time.

Freelancer loneliness is sometimes a problem for me, but there are plenty of ways to deal with it. What do you do as a freelancer to make sure you get enough social interaction in your life? Leave a comment below.

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6 Ways to Stay Organized and Productive When You Work at Home

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Working at home is great because you don’t have to worry about a commute, you can wear whatever you want, and you are in complete control of your workday. However, working from home does present challenges that make it difficult to stay organized and productive. Take a look at these six ways to eliminate distractions and get your work done faster.

Choose a Productive Place to Do Your Work

Some people find that a traditional desk in a quiet area is the best place to work. This is definitely the case for people who get distracted easily, but I think the most important thing to consider when choosing a workspace is your comfort. Personally, I like to move around to different places during the day.

You just have to find a place that works for you where you are productive and organized. If that means sitting on the couch with your kids playing nearby, great! If it means you need a home office where you can shut the door, that’s fine, too.

Set Your Work Hours

One of the hardest things about working from home is trying to separate work life from home life. Setting specific work hours can help you find the divide so you don’t feel like you’re working all the time.

After you’ve been working at home for a while, you’ll start to notice peak hours when you’re the most productive. This might be 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. after your kids have gone to bed or normal business hours of 8 to 5. It doesn’t really matter when you work, but you should try to find a time when you have the least amount of distractions and when you’re the most productive. Then, don’t work at other times of the day.

Get Dressed Before You Work

I’ll admit that oftentimes I don’t go take a shower until after lunch because I know I don’t have to. That’s one of the perks of working from home. However, I don’t recommend making this a habit. I find that I am more productive when I get showered and dressed early.

Being dressed for the day puts you in a more productive mood and also makes you feel more professional. It also makes it easier to pick up and run errands if you need to. Plus, scheduling time to get dressed prevents you from wasting time.

Schedule Time for Housework

One of the biggest distractions of working from home is housework. For instance, you might go to the kitchen for a glass of water but get distracted by the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Next thing you know, an hour of valuable work time has gone by because you’ve been cleaning. That’s why I suggest scheduling time to do housework. Basically, this means that you don’t clean or organize anything in your house unless it is during those designated hours. This will help you stay focused on your work and keep a separation from your home life.

I have an especially hard time with this one because I get distracted when things are dirty — it’s an OCD tendency. So, I try to schedule time in the evening, right before I go to bed, to tidy up. That way things are nice and clean when I wake up and start to work. If I don’t have time at night, I try to clean up the house before I start working.

Tell People You Aren’t Available

People don’t always understand what it means when you tell them you’re working from home. They assume it is great because you can still keep your house clean and watch your kids. You have no idea how many times I have been asked to babysit simply because I work from home. Babysitting is a lot of work, and something I have a very hard time doing if I have to work.

Watching your own kids is one thing because you can teach them how to behave when you’re on the phone with clients and they will eventually learn how to entertain themselves while you’re typing away at your computer. However, babysitting throws off your entire work schedule because those kids haven’t been trained. So, make sure your friends and family know that you aren’t available to babysit because you are “working,” not simply “at home.”

Create To-Do Lists and Take Breaks

Working from home requires a lot of organization and dedication. However, you have to balance this with breaks to walk around and get snacks. You can help yourself get things done by creating to-do lists. I find it’s best to focus on one task at a time because my thoughts aren’t all over the place. Working from home does require the ability to multitask, but not at the sake of productivity.

The most important thing to remember is to be flexible. There are always distractions and things that arise when you work at home that wouldn’t happen if you worked in an office. Therefore, you may need to make adjustments to your schedule on a daily or weekly basis.

What are the biggest challenges you face while working from home and what do you do to stay productive? Leave a comment below.

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What Does Your Home Office Look Like? I’ll Show You Mine.

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I love freelancing because it means I’m not confined to a desk. As a matter of fact, there are several places around my home where you will find me working because I don’t like the traditional home office. I think I’d go crazy if I had to stay in the same place all day. Take a look at my favorite work spaces at home.

 With My Feet Up on the Comfy Couch

On the Couch

The number one place you will find me during the day is sitting on my living room couch with my laptop. It’s a comfortable place to work because I get to put my feet up. I usually start my day on the couch and then move around later. I can’t really work on the couch when my husband is at home because our couch is in the only room where we have a TV and I get too distracted from my work when the TV is on. However, if I had to pick just one place to do my work, the couch would be it.

At a Traditional Desk in My Office

Home Office Desk

I like to transition to my traditional desk around noon, mainly because I can eat my lunch without worrying about my drink spilling. I write a good chunk of articles at my desk because I have a really big screen — this lets me open a Word document on one side and have my internet browser open on the other side. That beats clicking back and forth between research and my documents when I’m on my laptop. Additionally, I have the least amount of distractions in my office because the only thing in there is my desk and computer.

Walking on the Treadmill with my Laptop

Treadmill Desk

When you have to be in front of a computer screen to get your work done, it’s easy not to get enough exercise during the week. So, one day I decided to buy one of those laptop shelves that attaches to the handlebars of a treadmill and try to work while walking. I know this sounds crazy, but it works; you just have to walk slowly. Actually, I’m able to increase the speed a bit when I’m simply editing, so that’s when I like to work on the treadmill the most.

I’m not in very good shape, but I do try to stay as active as possible because otherwise my legs get restless and that makes it hard to concentrate. I’ve also tried pedals that you place under a desk to get your legs moving while you work. This worked for a while, but I couldn’t use them anymore when I got a new desk because my knees would hit the bottom of the desk.

Outside on the Back Patio

Back Patio

Another place I like to work is outside. During the warmer months, I really enjoy taking my laptop out to my back patio. However, this isn’t one of my most productive work spaces because I can hear the school bell and noisy kids playing at recess during the week days. I also have a neighbor that likes to play loud music, so I have to move inside when he’s outside working on his car.

So, those are the places you’ll find me working at home throughout the day. Do you do similar things or do you prefer sitting at a desk all the time? I’d like to know. Leave a comment below and links to pictures of your at-home work space.

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