6 Massive Time Sucks for Work-From-Home Entrepreneurs

Working from home feels good. You no longer have a manager, boss, or co-workers within earshot so you’re free to get on with your work as you best see fit. However, that freedom is a double-edged sword, as if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time on extra-curricular activities.

What are the top time sucks to avoid when working from home?

1 – Your Family

Harsh but true. Unless you live alone, the top potential distraction for the work-at-home entrepreneur is other people.

Your family, particularly kids, can struggle to get to grips with your need for privacy, quiet, and tidiness in your home office. For them, home is where they can completely relax and there are few rules to follow. It’s hard for some family members to understand that while you are physically there, your mind is on your work.

It can be hard for you to detach yourself from proceedings when there’s a shouting match going on downstairs. Even your spouse can just ‘pop in’ for frivolous reasons all too often.

These problems you don’t have in a traditional office environment.

It will take some time, but getting your family on board with your work-from-home lifestyle is crucial to making it work. Let them know how important it is for you to have the time and space to get work done. If your kids are struggling with the concept, make a placard to hang on your closed office door that shows when it’s OK to disturb you and when it isn’t.

Ensure you’re spending enough time with your family outside of your working hours. Make it a routine to be there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner together and keep the evenings free for them. This way, they won’t feel that work is more important to you than they are.

2 – Household Chores

How can you get work done when the room is in disarray? How can you concentrate knowing that the sink downstairs is full of dirty dishes? Surely if you just spend five or ten minutes here or there out of your workday this will give you peace of mind and you’ll REALLY be able to start working!

When we work in a traditional office, we leave these types of problems behind. To minimize them, keep your home office a separate area that’s always spick and span.  Get into a routine of doing the household chores every day before or after your standard working hours. Close the door when it’s time to get down to work and don’t open it again until you’re done.

3 – Social Media

You kind of knew this one would crop up, didn’t you?. Bet you thought it would be #1.

Without someone looking over your shoulder, you’re free to browse social media in your ‘downtime.’ But for many people, that downtime begins to creep into the time you’re meant to be concentrating hard. Social media’s short interactions and constant alerts make it a terrible waste of time.

Because you’re working from home and have fewer face-to-face interactions, you may find yourself being drawn to social media even more than in the past.

To combat this distraction, consider installing a browser extension like Work Mode or StayFocusd that blocks social media while you’re working.

(For the sake of decency and just so you know, I am including Porn Hub in with “social media”)

4 – Chat Messaging

Another thing that creeps in is chatting with your friends and family via messaging apps. For them, this feels less intrusive than coming into your home office and asking you a direct question, and it is. But because it feels more OK to do, you can find you’ll get more messages from them to the point that it’s constantly interrupting your workflow.

Separate your work communication methods from your personal communication methods and switch off all of your personal communication channels when you’re in work mode. If there’s an emergency, your friends and family will still be able to contact you. You’ll find that all of the small chat messages that are taking up all of your time abate and you’ll have more to talk about when you get together after work!

5 – Noise

While you’re working at home, you’re bombarded with noises that distract your attention from your work. A ringing phone, a TV, dogs barking, kids crying, vacuum cleaners running – all of these small distractions will see you lose your train of thought.   

Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to minimize the effect of these distractions. These emit a frequency that muffles most outside sounds, leaving you in blissful quiet.

You don’t have to spend a fortune – there are some great models for $100 or less these days.

Headphones are also a good indicator for your family that you’re in ‘work mode.’

Working from home can make you more productive, but ensure you’re minimizing the potential for distraction by being aware of all the things that are taking you away from your task at hand.

6 – Your Friends

When friends and neighbours see that you are always at home, they can assume that you are not working (or are completely flexible). You may find that people will just turn up for a chat or a coffee and not always at convenient times.

You may be just about to start a webinar or you may be trying to complete a task to a deadline. That doesn’t occur to most people. They just equate “at home” as “not at work”.

You will sometimes have to apologetically explain that a visit is not convenient. Be respectful but do make sure that the person understands that, just as they wouldn’t just show up at a company office and demand you break off work, they can’t expect you to do so when you are working at home.

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