Dealing with Distractions

Distractions in the home environment exist in many forms—neighbors, street noise, family, pets, television and other electronics. Working from home requires self-discipline and focus.

Dealing with a noisy environment is not difficult. Fans and White noise machines are very effective at canceling out noisy neighbors and loud street noise. Two that I use daily (and nightly) are the Marpac White Noise Sound Machine and LectroFan White Noise Machine.

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Marpac sound machines have been around for quite a while. The unit replicates the sound of a box fan, which many apartment dwellers use to drown out noise. I use it at night to mask the sounds of nighttime revelers from nearby bars and restaurants. The LectroFan is a great alternative if you prefer something with louder volume (this is my go-to machine for daytime hours or when neighbors crank their stereos). It also comes with a variety of white noise sounds. A cheaper alternative, but just as effective, are white noise apps, such as White Noise and Noisli.

Some people focus better when playing soothing music or ambient sounds; for instance, a popular choice (and which I listen to often) is Brian Eno’s Music For Airports.

Others simply need silence. If you fall into the latter camp, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earphones can be your most valuable tool. A quality pair can set you back several hundred dollars, but trust me, they’re well worth the investment.

For distractions of the human variety, you will need to establish boundaries with your family and friends. It can be frustrating at first, because many people have a hard time believing that you’re not available to talk or hang out if you’re home. Be firm. It may take a few reminders but eventually people will get the message that you are working.

If the biggest distraction for you is the television or PlayStation sitting across the room, then you’ll need to summon some self-control. Working at home requires discipline to focus on the daily tasks and goals that you set for yourself. Try different productivity techniques to stay focused on the task at hand, and be sure to reward yourself once they’re done.