Working from home since 2001 has taught me a lot about productivity. My first summer was spent in San Francisco without DSL or WiFi living in a house with one phone line and five people.
It could only get better. When I moved back to Oregon, I set myself up with a separate room. Unfortunately, I shared it with the laundry. My next space, the basement.
Now I have finally carved myself a near-perfect location and I have done some of my best work this past year. With all the excuses gone, though, I found there were still problems in the distractions. Some of these time-wasters are even part of my job.
Enter the POWER HOUR. Yes, the capitalization is necessary. For one hour during my workday, I focus exclusively on one project. Anything that could be a distraction is turned off and ignored. If I gets ideas, I write them down and deal with them at the end of an hour.
Distractions to eliminate:
Another one to add to that list is television. I didn’t include it because I learned long ago that it needs to be completely eliminated. If the TV is on, I’m never doing real work.
I work for an hour or so and then start my POWER HOUR around 10. My original reason for this is because I listen to NPR and Talk of the Nation begins at 11. I’ve found that early is better anyway, because productivity breeds productivity. If I have my POWER HOUR earlier in the day, it helps my post-POWER HOUR work as well.
Why not have a POWER DAY? I need some of my distractions for my work. Say an emergency email or phone call comes in from a client. It can probably wait an hour, but rarely can it wait all day. Also, it takes a lot of effort to focus on one project for an entire hour.
About six months ago, I moved to an office. It’s still just me, but I’m away from the additional distractions that intrinsically exist in working at home. Of course, there is a whole new collection of distractions, so that means from 10 to 11, the POWER HOUR is in effect.