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Your Home Office: Distractions

Apr 10, 2007

Your Home Office: DistractionsGary Opper, CPA, CFPdistraction solutions, successful home business There are many things that can draw your attention away from getting your work done at your home office. With each distraction, your days get shorter. One more thing doesn't get done that day. The key to running a successful home business is to treat the office like a traditional business environment. As suggested by interior designer Marcy Hoffman, "You need to create a space so that when you walk over to that space, you are going through an invisible door to work. This fosters a mental process workers must go through in order to be successful." This article will list distractions and their solutions so that you can make your workday more productive. Pets Pets are just one of the possible distractions that will prevent you from getting your work done. They will venture into your office and demand your attention. You don't want the dog barking, the cat meowing or the parakeet talking. Even former President Clinton's dog, Buddy, distracted him occasionally. (Several things distracted former President Clinton from work at his home office!) According to Clinton, "I could be talking to [then-Russian President] Boris Yeltsin on the phone, and he doesn't care; he just starts barking. The whole federal budget could be at issue. Buddy doesn't care; he just starts barking. And he'll keep right on barking until I go out and throw that ball with him for a while." Your pet may need to go for a walk, eat or be entertained. There are several solutions, to avoid this dilemma. Solutions include: -Get a pet sitter; -Ask a friend to watch your pet; -Keep it in another room; -Keep it in its cage; -Put it outside; and -Train your pet to know that work time is your time. Children Children demand just as much, if not more, attention than a pet. They will come into your office out of boredom and expect you to have free time to spend with them. Unfortunately, during the day, this may cause a loss of business. Your children might interrupt you due to boredom, hunger, illness, attention, assistance or questions. Solutions include: -Send them to camp if it's summertime; -Send them to after-school care during the school year; -Hire a baby sitter or nanny; -Have them stay at a friend or relative's house; -Have them go to the movies; and -Put them to work. Have your child file away the papers that you have lying around your office. They can put those files away that have already been processed. If you make them feel needed, then they will be less apt to get in the way of business matters. The doorbell Visitors ring your doorbell constantly, be they your friends, your neighbors or simply strangers selling something, giving something away or informing you of various issues. If your doorbell is constantly ringing, this will distract you from getting your daily business accomplished. Solutions to this problem include: -Place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door; -If you live in a gated community, inform your guard that you do not want disruptions and that you will keep him informed of whom you would like to see; and -Just ignore it. Maintenance workers One unavoidable disruption is people doing maintenance at your home or a neighbor's home on your street. You will hear a lawnmower, a new home being built or street-repair crews. An easy solution to this nuisance is to drown it out with music. In order to drown out the noise, put on some soothing, classical music or any radio station that will not play a song with lyrics that might tempt you to sing along. The sound of water is therapeutic, and a fountain can not only drown out noises from outside, but also alleviate stress. Your spouse Did you promise to love, honor and cherish your spouse through sickness, health and disruptions? If your spouse is constantly distracting you from your work, then it's time to lay down the law. The following suggestions may be of some use: -Send him/her on errands; -Involve him/her in the business; or -Make him/her understand that during work hours, you're not to be disturbed with non-work matters. Ask your spouse to run some errands during the day. You can profit from his/her free time by putting him/her to work in your office or having him/her make phone calls, soliciting business for your company. Technology These days, a computer can do just about anything. It can even tempt you away from your responsibilities. You may be tempted to log on and chat, answer e-mail or play your favorite computer games. To end your issues with technology, you could: -Put your computers in another room; -Set a time limit or schedule playtime; -Have a separate business screen name; or -Enforce a no-playtime policy during work. Keep your computers in another room so that they aren't staring you in the face, tempting you away from your responsibilities. You can also set a time limit on your computer to only allow yourself to go online only at certain times (e.g., non-business hours). Having separate business screen names will keep you from being distracted by personal instant messages and e-mails. Hunger The kitchen is calling you. It's right there, asking for you to explore its cabinets. Solve your hunger pains through: -Willpower; -Signs; and -Scheduled meals. Use your willpower to avoid those tempting treats. Put up signs around your kitchen, warning you to keep away from the food. Schedule your meals so that you are only allotted a certain amount of kitchen time. Stay out of the kitchen to keep the pounds off. Television Television is a major distraction for a home office. Having a television set in your office is not a wise idea. There will be a constant temptation to see what's on. To solve this problem, simply remove your television from your office. Reading Trade magazines, personal mail and recreational reading material can distract you from keeping your mind on business. These items will draw your attention away from the tasks in front of you. A couple of solutions to this issue are: -Don't check your personal mail until after business hours; and -Keep recreational reading out of the office. Make sure you use business hours for business work. Keep the magazines and reading material that you read for pleasure out of your office. Fewer distractions equal more time to get work done. Personal calls Your friends decide to call you and see if you are available to go out that evening. Your mom wants to know when you're coming to visit. To handle these pesky personal calls: -Have separate business and personal telephones; -Turn your home phone's ringer off; and -Set up an answering machine that will pick up your personal telephone on the first ring. Have a separate phone line installed for your business calls. That way, non-business related calls can be filtered. For instance, you can turn off the ringer on your personal line so that you aren't interrupted. You could also have an answering machine set up to answer your personal line on the first ring, making it more efficient for you to screen your personal calls if you so choose. Household chores You have to mow the lawn and measure the levels of chemicals in your pool. The filter on your air conditioning vent needs changing, and you're out of dog food. Chores can be taken care of by: -Putting them out of your mind; -Doing errands/chores on weekends and at night; -Having your spouse/children help out; or -Hiring someone to help you out with those extra chores that you don't seem to have the time to do. If you have a list of errands to do, put them off until the weekend or nighttime. If something is important and has to be done that day, ask your spouse or child for assistance. The bedroom You might be tempted to take a nap since your bed is so close by and you stayed up late, working. Keep your bedroom door closed during the day so that the bed is not tempting you. Stay in your home office! Conclusion Henry David Thoreau said, "The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task, surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure." Working out of your home can simultaneously provide those feelings of ease and leisure, but it can also distract you from the work that needs immediate attention. It is imperative that you maintain a separate business environment within your home to provide as few distractions and as much profit to your company as possible. As stated at the beginning of the article, treat your office as if it were a real business environment. Don't let yourself get distracted by the luxuries that home affords. Gary Opper, CPA, CFP is the president of Approved Financial Corporation and is past president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers Miami Chapter. He may be reached at (954) 384-4557 or e-mail [email protected].
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