Working from Home with Distractions: How to Stay Productive

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Working from home might sound like the best of both worlds to many, but working from home can actually present many challenges. From your television set, to your family and even your own snacking habits, working from home is battle against one distraction after another. However, the good news is there are many ways to kick these distractions to the curb.

Each of the distractions in your home presents a unique challenge that will likely require a special consideration to overcome that distraction. However, there are some basic tips like creating an office space, setting a schedule and establishing family boundaries that can make you more productive when working at home.

As mentioned before, each of these distractions actually has a unique situation and brings its own set of needs to overcome it. Join us as we delve into all of the possible distractions you might face when working at home and discuss in detail the strategies to overcome these annoying disturbances.

The Top Distractions People Face at Home

When someone seeks counseling to work on a challenge, the first step in that counseling is recognizing that there is a problem.

The same concept can be applied here, if you are struggling to focus when working from home. You typically have one or more distractions around you and recognizing those distractions is the first step to overcoming them.

Now we’ve both established there is a problem we need to fix, let’s get to work. To make it a bit easier for you to recognize what your distractions are, we are going to list out a number of common issues we see starting with…

Family Obligations

If you have family in your home during your working hours, then you can be guaranteed that they will be your number one challenge. This is even more true for parents who are trying to work while children are in the home.

The challenge of working with children and other family members in your home is especially tricky. It is hard to prioritize your work over your family, and especially over your children. So, you might find yourself frequently putting off work to have a chat with family or to do activities (the kids always seem to be bored at the wrong time!).

If this is a new arrangement, then the adjustment is going to be even more difficult. Unfortunately, very young children have an especially tough time understanding that mommy or daddy need to work and cannot play with them right now. The good news is, we have plenty of tips to ease this transition down in the later phase of this article.

Household Chores

Similar to family obligations, many people think that when they begin working from home they will suddenly have all of this time to do household chores during the day. After all, how long does it take to fold some laundry and load the dishwasher?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple juggling your job and your household chores. In fact, your job is likely just as demanding at home as it is in the office.

I would not bet money that you can pull off doing chores and work at the same time. It’s important you continue to complete those tasks after your allocated work hours and don’t be tempted to do a quick vacuum… You never know when the boss or your next client may call.

Phone Calls and Text Messages

It may surprise you to learn that when your friends and family learn you are working from home, they suddenly think that you are constantly available to chat. You will quickly learn that these phone calls and text messages are unwelcome distractions for your work day.

Again, it is hard to ignore phone calls from your mom, and when your friend sends you a funny meme you may be tempted to reply. The temptation is harder to ignore in the comfort of your home as well.

Even though you are working, there are less structures of accountability (especially peer pressure) holding you responsible for using your time wisely.

Social Media and Web Browsing

Speaking of using your time wisely, when you find your mind wondering in the middle of your work day, it can be easy to waste time browsing the internet or looking at social media.

Similar to cell phone misuse this distraction is easily taken advantage of when you know that there is little in place to hold you accountable.

A small tip here…. Log out of your social media accounts before starting your workday – no notifications works wonders for those distractions! (or set a “social media alarm” if you need to! Lucky for iPhone users this option is easily activated by selecting; settings -screen time – app limit – add limit – social networking)


When we are home all day, we tend to snack more often. Part of this is comfort and part of it is boredom, but whatever the reason it might be an issue for you.

Frequent trips to your pantry or to your refrigerator could be causing your productivity to drop. Further, if other family members are in the home, then they are liable to be an additional distraction on your way to get yourself a snack.

Snacking might seem like a good excuse to get up and get a break, but if you have listened to our advice thus far, then you know that you should adhere to a strict schedule.

While this strict schedule might take some adjustment, you will likely notice that it gets easier to follow a schedule over time. You will also notice that by not running to the refrigerator every ten minutes, two things won’t blow out; your deadlines and waistline.

Women looking fridge


The television can be a distraction for many people who find themselves in a work from home situation.

It is easy to allow a television show or the temptation of streaming to prohibit your productivity. Again, this is often caused by a lack of supervision or accountability in place over a traditional office.


Without a set schedule or a specific level of accountability, it is easy to find yourself falling into the trap of procrastination. The truth is that procrastination tends to lead to increased stress levels, and yet some of us continue to procrastinate time and time again.

Do not allow yourself to believe that you work better under pressure.

While this phrase is a common one, it usually is not very true. Stick to the thought that if you get it done early you will have time to review it. You will most likely produce better work this way.

Sleeping or Nap Temptation

Some of you may be surprised here, but it’s more common than you think.

People who work from home tend to have a more freely flowing schedule than people who report to an office. When there are no pressing 8 A.M. meetings, it can be easy to sleep in everyday instead of working a regular schedule.

The urge to nap might also be overwhelming for some. Unfortunately, you probably will not be getting much work done with your head buried in your pillows.

Altering your sleeping patterns too much is also a good way to dramatically reduce your productivity. If you are used to waking up early in the morning and then suddenly begin waking up at noon, your body will go through a phase of adjustment. During this adjustment you will be far less productive and might actually have the urge to sleep more often causing you to be less productive than before.

Wearing Pajamas or Comfortable Clothes

A lot of people claim that the best part of working from home is that you can remain in your pajamas all day. While for some it’s true you don’t require formal dressing, wearing your pajamas all the time is actually quite discouraging to your productivity. Your brain is trained to relax when the comfortable clothes are on. In our household, putting on workplace style attire is our signal it’s time to get busy – think of it as being similar to a superhero putting on their cape.  

Tips to Overcome Distractions

Now you have identified the distractions that are prohibiting your productivity, it is time to make some changes. In some cases, recognizing the problem might be enough. However, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help get you back on track and keep you on the boss’ good side.

Create an Effective Office Space

Many of the distractions listed above can be eradicated with this simple tip. Making an office space for yourself to do your work is critical to actually getting your work done.

Creating a designated space for your work is a great tip for creating boundaries between your working time and all of the at-home distractions.

If you have a spare bedroom, then now is the perfect time to turn it into a small home office. Place a desk or small table in there, and be sure to bring in everything you need in order to get your work done. This includes your laptop, charger, printer and any other work materials that you may need on a daily basis.

If your home is full and there are no rooms that can be designated as a home office, you can still find that secret space to work each day. Consider putting a desk in your master bedroom, or setting up your workspace in the formal dining room. Some people even set up a tiny office in their laundry room!

Whatever space you choose, be sure it is a space that is not frequently full of the other family members that can distract you.

Creating a space that is yours for work and work only will give you and your family a sense of boundaries. If your work desk is only used for work, then your family will learn that they cannot talk to you while you are sitting there. Further, you will feel more like you have a sense of normalcy inside your work space.

To help create the perfect home office we have found some goodies on Amazon. Here is an affordable and very popular office desk padOpens in a new tab., power outlet strip,Opens in a new tab. under desk footrestOpens in a new tab. and a multi brightness desk lampOpens in a new tab. to get you started.

Set a Strict Schedule

Setting a schedule for your workday is another crucial step in getting into the routine of working from home. Consider that if you were going to the office, there would likely be a specific time that you need to arrive at the office. You would likely schedule meetings and have a set list of tasks that you need to complete for the day.

You should treat your home office just like a real office.

If you are looking to be productive and remain a good employee, then you need to set yourself a strict schedule. Begin by deciding what time your work day starts and what time it ends. If you like an 8-5 schedule, fine. However, if you enjoy the luxury of sleeping until 8, then you may choose to begin your day later.

The important thing is that you have a schedule and hold yourself accountable to it.

You should also schedule out your lunch breaks, so that you know when to stop for a break. It might be a good idea to also give any children at home a strict schedule and try to align it with yours. Having a schedule and expectations will keep them from remaining a distraction to you also.

Get Up, Get Dressed, Put Shoes On

As we mentioned in the first section, wearing your pajamas all day is not good for your mental health. Lounging around in your pajamas sends your brain the message that it is time to relax and not time to get to work or be productive.

Making a habit of waking up, getting dressed, fixing your hair and putting your shoes on is a great way to ward off distraction. When you are dressed and ready for your day, then your brain will automatically be more motivated to get to work.

Silence Your Cell Phone

The great thing about smartphones is that they are really smart. Your smartphone has the ability to refrain from notifying you about text messages and phone calls that come in while you are working. Even better, if you use your cell phone for work, then you can silence only those who are most likely to distract you.

This might be a hard concept for people who are used to having their cell phone attached to their hand at all hours of the day, but it is for the best. Without getting constant notifications that are not urgent, you will be able to get your work done so much more peacefully and without distraction.

Make it a habit to only check your phone during your scheduled breaks. This is a best practice for professionals in any career, but it can give you a major boost in productivity. This can also reduce the urge to browse social media during the work day too.

Schedule a Break or Two

Even in your actual office, you likely would not work from start to lunch without ever taking a break. Schedule a snack break in the morning and a coffee break in the afternoon. Or schedule a walk around the block.

Get out of your chair and complete some stretching exercises. Whatever you do, make sure that you give your brain a break every so often.

I often use this “office break yoga” video on Youtube to refocus. Take a look and see how this short video can give you the boost you need.

End Your Workday at a Specific Time

For some people, work is an addiction. This can become a serious problem when these people work from home. Working late into the night or working really long days can be detrimental to your mental health, relationships and even to your job.

We gave the tip earlier to set a strict schedule for yourself, but we really mean it.

To all of the workaholics out there, set a time that your workday ends and stick to it. Your family deserves to have time that is dedicated to them. You also deserve time that is dedicated to you and making sure you take care of your own health.

Set Boundaries with Family

Setting boundaries with your family is difficult, but it is a necessary part of working from home.

Most spouses and older children will understand boundaries pretty easily. A simple conversation that explains your struggle with distraction and how they can help will usually do the trick.

Younger children may take a little bit more time to adjust to a sudden change in schedule or household customs. They may respond well to signs on the entrance of your work area, a bright yellow sign might mean “do not disturb” and a green sign might mean “okay to enter.”

Even young toddlers will eventually understand the rules through repetition and consistency.

Summary: Working from Home with Distractions – How to Stay Productive

Many companies choose to hire employees to work from home because they can acquire the finest talent through having that option. However, the research on this is extremely limited, and we are living through a time when more people than ever before are attempting to do their work away from an office space.

If you are one of the many who are trying to work at home and feel like you are riding the struggle bus, know that you are not alone. Home has never been a place of work for the most of us. Home is where you relax and get to see your family and it is only natural that working from home would be a hard task to accomplish right off the bat.

The good news is that there are ways to make working from home less of a struggle. The transition is not an easy one and change is almost always a hard pill to swallow, but this transition is one that can be accomplished with some hard work and determination.

We hope that this guide inspires you to overcome the unique distractions in your home. By putting work first for part of your day, you will remain the valuable employee that you have always been in the office.


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Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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