In today's business world it is not uncommon for many sales people to work from a home office. At first this may seem like a great opportunity, however, it does create some unique challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is the number of distractions that can take us away from our work and prevent us from achieving our objectives.
When you work from a home office it is easy to get distracted from work, especially if it is work that you do not particularly enjoy like prospecting or cold calling. Watering the plants, running errands or even doing laundry can be a welcome change from the daily drudgery of selling. And, if you have young children, the number of distractions increases dramatically.
I, too, work from a home office and have had to deal with this challenge. Here are a few ideas that can help manage these distractions and improve your productivity.
Create an office. When I first began working from home almost a decade ago, I used to work at my dining room table. Unfortunately, this put me in the middle of our household action. My wife would turn on the television and I would be instantly distracted from my work. In other cases, she would talk to me or ask me a question simply because I was in the same room. As a result, it was often difficult to focus on my work. Now I have an office and do the majority of my work there. If you don't have space to create an office, find somewhere in your house that has the least amount of traffic and opportunities for distractions.
Set specific "business" hours. This is particularly important if you have young children. It can be very difficult for children to understand that they can't disturb us while we're working. If you have an office, close your door and place a do not disturb sign on it. This is particularly important if you are making client calls because it prevents family members from inadvertently barging in on you during a critical call.
Use a "to do" list-everyday. Having a list of what you need to accomplish each day can help keep you focused; otherwise, it becomes too easy to do other things around the house. If you know that you need to accomplish a certain number of tasks by the end of the day, it can prevent you from getting distracted during the day. One of the challenges with this is that household duties or running errands are more enjoyable compared to work we have to complete. However, I have frequently found that once I get involved in my task, the desire to do something else fades.
Set deadlines for the projects you're working on. Although I don't have anyone holding me accountable to these deadlines, it find that this approach can help keep me on track. You can also share these deadlines with other people to help keep yourself focused especially if this type of accountability works for you.
Give yourself permission to relax from time-to-time. It's okay to allow yourself to get distracted once in a while. As long it's not a regular occurrence, you don't have to worry too much about it. However, if your relaxation time overtakes your work time, then you need to reconsider your priorities.
Share your goals and objections with a group of advisors. This type of accountability works well for many people because they know they will have to report their progress on specific projects.
Recognize that the results you achieve are a direct result of the effort you put into your work. When I first started my private practice, it was easy to put aside work and do chores or run errands. In my first year, I treated work like a part-time job, clocking an average of 20-25 hours per week. When I evaluated my results at the end of the year I realized I couldn't afford to maintain this mentality. So I started working more. And, I got better results. I eventually learned that the more effort I put into my work, the better results I achieved in terms of the revenue and income I generated. This made it easier to avoid the distractions and focus more on my work.
Lastly, you can try an approach I learned from Brian Tracy many years ago. When you find yourself procrastinating on a particular task or project, repeat the following three words to yourself over and over. "Do it now." This can be a great way to prevent yourself from getting distracted by other things you would prefer to do.
Distractions are sometimes positive. A break away from work can clear your mind, give you the opportunity to refresh yourself, and increase your energy level. However, it is important to remember that you have a responsibility to yourself and your business to limit these distractions.
Copyright 2006 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.