Working From Home? Secrets to Dodging Distractions

Working remote has become a hot topic. And it is one that won't be going away soon. Scott Costa, tED Magazine Publisher and founder of the podcast DistributED, shares what works (and doesn't work) for him and how he's learned to dodge distractions. 

I am not afraid to admit this. Probably just about every person in the United States today is better at working from home than me. So, congratulations to everyone for being better than me at this. When I am trying to work from home, my short attention span has me spinning most of the day, and when the day is done, I always feel like I did not accomplish enough.

But there are times, like now, when we need to work from home.

When I feel my mind wandering away from the task at hand, I don’t fool myself. I walk away from the task at hand. But for me, it’s important to not pick up any other tasks.

I don’t let the dog out or change a load of laundry. It’s called a 5-minute break. We may not realize it, but we take them while we are in the office.

  • Walk around the room.
  • Look out a window.
  • Get a Diet Coke.
  • Breathe.

Then get back at it. I find that those short breaks actually allow me to collect my thoughts a little more clearly, and I am ready to go back into attack mode. Those breaks also allow me to process everything I want to accomplish for the day. When I get back to work, I may write down a couple of tasks, or just organize my daily goals, and then I get back at it.

Another thing that helps is trying to create a little of the atmosphere that I have in the office. A little noise helps me, because my office isn’t silent. I think the silence would drive me crazy. Don’t go overboard by turning on your favorite episode of Dr. Phil so it distracts you. But a little music or a podcast can help you with some background noise. There are some people who need the silence, but any way you can replicate an office environment might help.

It’s really important that you let your managers and co-workers know how you want to communicate with them. The great thing about living in this age is there are countless ways to stay in touch with each other. Managers today need to adapt to those communication devices, and not the other way around. Phone calls, e-mail, text messaging, and IM all are possibilities. This is a great time to over-communicate. When you are having face-to-face meetings, you can always tell if everyone in the room understands the plan for the day. You lose a lot of that in an e-mail or text message. Don’t let a new form of communication be a barrier to success.

Tune in to the DistributED podcast today. 

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Scott Costa

Scott Costa

Scott Costa came to tED magazine and the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) in November 2012 after a 24-year career in broadcast news. Scott has worked to increase the profile, relevance and brand of tED magazine at NAED and throughout the supply chain. Since becoming publisher, tED magazine has earned 85 national and regional awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. tED magazine’s lighting-based website “lightED” was named Best New B2B Website for 2017.