How to Keep Focused When You Work from Home

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For the work-at-home agent the work/life balance can be tricky. Here’s how to get the most out of your time “at the office.”   Working as a travel agent out of your own home seems like the perfect dream job. You’ll set your own hours and you can kiss the hectic commute goodbye. Sounds great, but now the dogs are clamoring for your attention, the dishes are piling up, and the laundry needs to get done.
It takes a great amount of skill and dedication to block out the distractions and get your work done. In this article for Forbes magazine, Holly Reisem Hanna, who founded The Work at Home Woman blog, says “What people need to realize is that even though working from home offers a great amount of flexibility, it is still a professional job and it needs to be treated as such.”
There are several steps you can take to tune out the distractions and meet those deadlines.
Identify Distractions: Before you can solve the problem, you need to know what’s stopping you from doing your work. Is it really the dishes or perhaps you enjoy the social aspect of going into an office and you miss conversation. What’s your diversion?  Once you figure it out, you can find creative solutions.
Set Yourself Up: Create a designated workspace in your home — an extra bedroom, section of your family room or an extra-large closet — where you cannot see the laundry or dishes. It will cut down on distractions. Entrepreneur magazine suggests not having a window in your office. “Situate yourself so that you can enjoy the natural light of a window but are not set up in direct view of visual distractions,” writes Adam Callinan.
Get Organized: For most people, messy offices are a distraction and definitely a time killer. Take a few minutes each morning to get yourself set up. Put papers away and keep to-do lists to keep you focused. When you can’t find an important paper or you waste time thinking about what you have to be doing, it can take the focus away from what you should be doing.   Apps Help: Can’t stop checking Facebook and Twitter? There are apps and productivity programs, such as Cold Turkey, that prevent you from getting into your accounts for a certain period of time. SelfControl is a free and open-source application for Mac OS X that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet.   Take Breaks: Wait, what? Isn’t that a distraction? Not necessarily. According to a study done by Muse, the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time and then take 17 minute breaks. You’re more focused and ability to take effective breaks.   Get Out: On some days, you’re just going to need a break from home. Thankfully, technology is portable today and you can work from almost anywhere. Head to the local bookstore, coffee shop or library and take a day off from working from home.
Ask for Help: Working from home doesn’t mean that you have to cook, take care of the kids, clean and be a chauffeur. Instead, hire someone to do some of this work so you can focus on your career. Younger children can be hired as a mother’s helper, while teens can clean your home and start dinner.
Turn it Off: If you have to catch up on paperwork and emails, turn off your phone. If you have to catch up on phone calls, sign out of your email. One can distract the other.
Most importantly, keep trying techniques until you find what works for you. Eventually you’ll become more focused and productive than you ever have been before.    

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