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How to Keep Your Work and Home Time Separate

Tips for Separating Home and Work Routines

If you wonder why it’s been a challenge for you to work from home during the recent pandemic crisis, the University of California Irvine may have an explanation. A few years ago, they published an eye-opening study about the effects of distraction on productivity and focus. The upshot: When we get distracted at work, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task!

The Muse takes the math even further: At that rate, all it takes is three distractions to cause us to lose more than an hour of productivity. For freelancers and startup entrepreneurs, time is money, in a very real sense—so it’s easy to see how distractions like these can add up to lost revenue. One way to reclaim lost time from distractions is by keeping our home and work routines separate from each other. Let’s discuss some creative ways to do that.

Carve Out Specific Work Hours—and Stick to Them

Unless you have a dedicated home office, you may or may not be able to set aside a separate space for working from home. What you can do as an alternative is block out dedicated time. Decide what your work hours are and be diligent about keeping them. In other words—those hours are for work, not for home responsibilities. If you live (or have been sheltering with) family or roommates, you may need to take your laptop into a bedroom and shut the door to reduce distractions. Communicate with others living with you that these hours are strictly your work time, and they should not interrupt you except for emergencies.

By the way, notice we refer to them as work hours. It can be a huge temptation at home to try to work for a few minutes here and there as you go through the day. If the UC Irvine study holds true, you can surely see why a few minutes at a time won’t work. A single distraction could cost your entire productive time. This tactic works best with work blocks of several hours, not a little bit here and there.

Remove Distracting Elements During Work Hours

If you live alone, or if you don’t have the option of secluding in a room during work time, your next best option is to take whatever steps are needed to reduce potential distractions during your work time. Keep the TV off to reduce ambient noise. Send the kids to play in another room, if possible. Avoid the usual temptations to check your email or social media. You’d probably have these temptations in an office, too, but their distracting power may be amplified outside a dedicated work environment.

Consider a Remote Office

As quarantines expire and we carefully begin venturing outside, it may be a good time to consider setting up a remote office, perhaps at a coworking space. With new social distancing rules in place, it’s possible to work outside the home with minimized risk—especially if you rent a dedicated office where only you will be working. Give myOfficeLife a call at 720-600-0065 to learn about availability and the steps we’re taking to maintain clean, safe work environments.

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