Ask any work-at-home professional or small business owner what her biggest hurdle is when it comes to tackling her to-do list and she’ll likely tell you it’s the constant distractions. The kids need attention. Email demands to be answered. The phone is ringing. The dog needs fresh water.
The list goes on. It’s no wonder she – and you – can’t get anything done.
So how do those “have it all” type entrepreneurs do it? They start by creating a distraction-free zone. Here are some of our solutions for eliminating distractions for the WAHM.
A Place of Your Own
Plenty of entrepreneurs get their start working from the kitchen table, stealing a few minutes here or an hour there when the kids are napping or during lunch. But when the business begins to grow, it pretty quickly becomes clear that a laptop in the living room is not an efficient way to work. It’s time to find a real office.
That doesn’t mean you have to go rent space in a high-rise downtown, though. If you run your business from home and want to keep it that way, you just need to carve out a space you can call your own.
For some, a spare bedroom makes an ideal office space. For others, a corner of the basement or even a closet will do. The key is to create a place where, when you’re in it, you know you’re working. And perhaps more importantly, when you’re not in it, you can leave the work behind.
Virtual Distractions You Can Do Without
Of course, just having a nice quiet office with a door won’t eliminate all your distractions. There’s plenty of them right on your computer waiting to suck away all your work time. Here are some of the coolest tools to help you manage your time online and eliminate distractions:
Leechblock -You can specify up to six sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set. You can block sites within fixed time periods (e.g., between 9am and 5pm), after a time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour), or with a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour between 9am and 5pm). With the lockdown feature, you can block sites immediately for a specified duration. You can also set a password or random access code for LeechBlock’s options, just to slow you down in moments of weakness!
Free for Firefox
Concentrate The Mac software allows you to designate various activities (studying, writing, etc.) and then set your computer so that it will only allow certain actions during those times.
$29 – for Mac
Rescue Time – tracks your time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of how you spend your day. It then gives you detailed reports and data, based on your activity.
Available for free, or $9 a month for the pro version, for Mac from rescuetime.com, and available for free for Android
Time Out – If you have trouble remembering to take breaks, try the Mac app Time Out, a tool that encourages you to get up and stop what you’re doing at regular intervals. Time Out reminds you to take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes, and a 10-second “micro-break” — a brief pause to take a deep breath, look away from your screen, and re-center yourself — every 10 minutes.
Free app for Mac
Digital Detox – This app could revolutionize your vacations — or even your weekends. Using Digital Detox, you can force your phone to shut down for a set period of time ranging from 30 minutes to one month (and no, the decision is not reversible). But the app comes with a disclaimer: Only those who are truly serious about unplugging need apply.
Free for Android
The important thing to remember here is that your environment is only the beginning. You need to work on building up your self-discipline as well, so you can say no to distractions and get the work done. What is your favorite tool or method for eliminating distractions?