Getting Work Done When You Don’t Have Dedicated Workspace (And Your Family Is Distracting You!)

Focus on your work with a decent workspaceWorking from home on your own business is a dream of many: You can do what you love, whenever you like, and you can work even in your pajamas. Everything seems to be perfect in that scenario, but unfortunately the reality can be tougher than the dream you had in your mind.

This whole dream almost gets crushed when you realize that you are not getting that much done because of the distraction caused by your family. Yes, you like to spend more time with them and working from home is giving you that opportunity.

At the same time you would expect them to respect your working peace, so that you can grow your business and earn more money through it.

The distraction is causing friction between you and your family, and you feel bad when you have to shout at them to keep quiet.

The space matters

No matter how great it is to work from home, you still want to be productive and get your tasks and projects done on time. If this is not possible, there could be one crucial thing that is missing in that case: You don’t have a dedicated workspace to do your work.

If you do your work on a kitchen table and the TV is blaring next to you in the living room, do you really think that you’ll get the work done as planned? Or if your spouse and your children are asking you to do stuff while you are trying to do productive work, can you really focus on your tasks? Unfortunately the answer is no.

Particularly when you don’t have an extra room to dedicate to your work, you may think that there is nothing you can do about the situation. But hold on – maybe you should put your thinking cap on first and see what ideas you come up with.

Have you really thought about the alternatives?

If doing work at home is impossible, I recommend that you sit down and ask yourself these questions. If you haven’t done so already, now is the right time to do it!

The first thing is – have you really mapped all the alternatives regarding your working space? List all the possible options in a document. That way you can really see what solutions you might have.

Then, have you talked with your family about the current situation? If not, then you really should, because otherwise things might continue as before and you may still lose your temper with them when they are distracting you.

Finally, is your office really mobile? Can it be moved around and can you do work location-independent?

If the answer was “no” to even one of these questions, then you have some work to do. In that case the situation continues to be the same and the lack of productivity could eventually affect your business’s bottom line.

It’s time to make you location independent

1. Have a chat with your family. First, it’s time to have a talk with your family and make them understand the value of the work you are doing. Sure, there is always going to be distractions when working from home, but the idea is to cut down the unnecessary parts, and it can be done easily.

You can also talk about the special schedules that you might have related to your business and doing special arrangements based on those needs. For instance, when I’m recording a podcast, I let my family know about it in advance. In that case, my wife can go outside and play with our son, until I have finished recording the show.

You could also define a policy that there shouldn’t be any requests or demands when you are doing work. That way you can get a better focus and obviously that increases your productivity a lot.

2. Check out all the alternatives. Make a list of all the possible work locations that are available for you. The list could look like this:

  • Home: Kitchen table
  • Home: Dedicated room
  • At work (in a meeting room, outside the office hours)
  • A co-working space
  • Renting an office space
  • A coffee shop or a library
  • A dedicated work room somewhere else

Then, go through the options one by one and cross out the ones which are out of the question. For example, right now, I’m writing this post on a kitchen table in the morning, but I can also work in a dedicated room in my home later in the day, work from my parent’s place, in a coffee shop or in a library.

3. Make your office truly mobile. It goes without saying that you should make your home office truly a mobile one. A laptop is a great start (and I’m guessing you have that already). However, have you also invested in a tablet, a smartphone or a Kindle (or any other reading device)? What about your mobile broadband access?

As you can see, there are different elements to a mobile office and if you don’t own the whole arsenal of equipment just yet, don’t worry! Just get started with the most important one (your laptop and the mobile broadband) and then continue investing in the rest your equipment later on.

4. Change your location based on the situation. I mentioned that I’m writing this post on a kitchen table. However, the only reason why this is possible is because I woke up early and my family is still sleeping. And since this is the case, I can work without distractions.

As you can see, even a highly distracting place like a kitchen can be a good place to do work if you choose the right timing. It may not be the most optimum one ergonomically, but still I get to do the work I have planned to do and that’s what matters the most.

I have also realized that I get a lot of work done when I’m travelling. In particular trains are my favorite places to do work. That’s why I’m always looking forward to riding one when going on a business trip.

If you decide to work outside home, make sure that you let your family know where you are. That way they know how to reach you if there is an emergency of any kind.

5. Use visual cues. Using visual cues is yet another way to make other family members aware that you are working and you shouldn’t be disturbed. In fact, I recorded a video about this topic, so take a look at what it’s all about (you have to be a PSD+ member to see, register here).

6. Become an early riser or a late bed goer. I already mentioned about this and I’ll mention it again: Becoming an early riser gives you flexibility to do work even in places where you wouldn’t normally get stuff done (like in the kitchen in my case).

Becoming an early riser is even more important if you are building your business on the side. That way you get some extra hours to do work related to your business – even if you have a day job or a family (+ other commitments).

Rising early doesn’t have to be hard. You just want to set the target wake-up time and then wake up earlier and earlier (say 15 minutes) every week, until you finally reach the target time. You’ll then realize that waking up earlier is not that hard anymore, it just requires a bit of repetition to get used to.

If waking up early is not your thing, you could turn things around and work in the evening or at night. That could work too, since your home will most likely be quiet (as others will have already gone to sleep).

Conclusion

Working from home is great, but you have to make sure you have a place to do your work. Otherwise you’ll get nothing done, it’ll affect your mood, and eventually your business’s bottom line will suffer.

Go through the steps again that I laid out and pay some attention to your working conditions. That way, you have the potential to boost your productivity and enjoy your work more.

Over to you: How can you focus on your work when you are working from home?