There are many joys that come from working from home. You can usually decide when you need to work and when you need a break. Depending on your job, you can get dressed in business clothes for the day or dive into your tasks while wearing your pajamas.
However, working from home also creates the possibility for a lot of distractions that you wouldn’t normally encounter in an office environment. There is the lull of your bed to take a quick nap. There is the temptation to step into your kitchen for a light snack. And there is the incessant pull of the television to watch your favorite shows.
How can you free yourself from the temptation of watching TV while you’re working from home?
Here are a few ways to avoid television and get more work done.
1. Have a Separate Workspace
One of the most basic rules when deciding to work from home is to keep your workspace separate from your living space. If your home allows for it, you should have an office that is separate from the rest of the house. This allows you to more easily focus on your work in your office and step out of work mode whenever you leave the room. If your office has a door, you can also close it to help reduce the noise from the rest of the house, which can be particularly useful if other family members are at home while you’re working.
If you do have a separate office, then avoiding the television should be much easier. Just make sure you don’t have a television in your workspace.
What if your home is small and you can’t totally close off your workspace from your living space? That is where a schedule, boundaries and watching later come in.
2. Create a Schedule
If you haven’t already done so, creating a schedule for working from home can help you stay focused on what you need to do. You may have designated work hours you need to follow if you are working for a boss or business.
However, if you are your own boss, then you will need to be the one to decide when you are on and off work. Outline your schedule and commit yourself to adhering to those hours strictly. As long as your line of work doesn’t necessitate that you be on call at all hours of the day and night, this should help you draw the line between work and home.
For example, if you decide that you will be working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break at noon, then you should be focusing solely on working from 9:00 to noon and from 1:00 to 5:00.
Once you clock out, do not check or respond to work calls or emails. Likewise, don’t bring in personal projects or off-hours indulgences during your work time. To avoid watching TV while working from home, only let yourself watch during your lunch hour and when you clock out for the day.
3. Set Clear Boundaries
Similar to creating and sticking to a schedule, you need to outline specific boundaries for what is allowed during work hours. If television is normally a distraction for you and you can’t focus on your work with a good show on, then the television should be considered out of bounds while you’re working. If needed, you can even unplug your TV and other tempting electronics while you work.
Boundaries only work if you’re willing to abide by them. It can help if you have other people in the house and you let them know about these boundaries and how important they are.
If you absolutely can’t have the TV on while you’re working, let your family or housemates know, and ask them to help keep you accountable. Then you’re not the only one looking out for you. A gentle reminder to stop watching TV and to get back to work from someone you live with can help you stay on the right track.
4. Record Shows or Stream Them Later
The great thing about modern television is that you generally don’t have to worry about missing a show because you can either record them and watch them later or stream them whenever you want through your favorite service. In other words, you shouldn’t worry that you’re going to miss out on anything too important regarding your favorite TV show because you should be able to catch up when the workday is over. Even if you’re worried about missing some important breaking news, you should be able to catch up in the evening.
When TV Watching May Be Beneficial
For some people, watching television can actually help them work better. It depends on what’s actually on the TV. For example, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t enjoy working in complete silence, then you may require some white noise or background noise to help you be more efficient.
In this case, having the TV on with a show that isn’t too distracting can make you more productive. Just be careful to avoid watching an exciting program that you haven’t seen before and that keeps drawing your attention away from the immediate task.
If you want to use your TV to have some background noise, then it’s usually safe to have a program on that you have seen enough times that you almost know it by heart. It can also help to have the volume turned down so that the noise barely registers. Some devices also allow you to stream radio stations. If background music is your thing but the TV is a tempting distraction, try using your TV for ambient work music instead.
When Family Members Become Distracting
Sometimes your family will be at home while you’re working, and they may wish to watch TV when you need to focus. In this case, you may need to bring your family members or housemates in on your schedule and boundaries. If you absolutely can’t have the TV while doing your job, other household members need to understand.
If you have little children at home, you may need to set a schedule for them and provide them with alternative entertainment options. It helps to explain that it’s only during specific hours or during work calls and meetings that the TV needs to be off. Make sure your family or housemates can adhere to the boundaries you outline, or work with them to find a compromise that hopefully helps everyone be at their best.
Pull the Plug
Television can be a huge distraction for many people while working from home. Much like social media, it can be easy to get sucked into a TV show and not even realize how much time has passed. The background noise can be a comfort for some people, but you’re the one who needs to decide if such entertainment hurts more than it helps.
If TV is a major distraction that keeps you from getting your important work done, you may need to pull the plug for good during work hours. If you have a separate office space, that can make the process easier. If not, now is a good time to have a sit-down with your family or housemates and establish boundaries for TV use while there’s work to do.