If you're working from home as a real estate investor, it's guaranteed that you'll have to battle some ongoing distractions and interruptions in your home environment.
No matter how you slice it, a home office just isn't the same as a corporate environment. Whether it's the people you live with, the noisy neighbors next door, or your inability to stay focused, you must find ways to cope with distractions.
Working from home doesn't make your work any less important. Boundaries must be established.
After surviving in this environment for years, I've learned a few tricks that have helped me get past these obstacles to productivity. With any luck, these ideas might be helpful for you too.
1. Establish And Communicate Your Work Schedule
Whether you live with your kids, parents, grandparents, spouse, roommate, or fill-in-the-blank, it all starts with communication. The first thing you can do to avoid interruptions while working from home is to create structure and set clear expectations.
Inform everyone that you plan to work from Time A until Time B, and you will be unresponsive during those hours. By simply communicating to your co-habitants exactly what they can expect from you during certain times of each day, you can avoid confusion about why you seem so distant during those hours.
If people understand that you're trying to accomplish something, you'll have a much higher likelihood of finding peace during the times when you need it.
2. Stick To Your Plan
Once you've established the time that you'll officially be in the zone, treat this time like gold. Don't cheat yourself by spending it on things that aren't classified as work, and definitely don't let others see you behave in a way that isn't perceived as working.
If others can see that you aren't taking your time seriously, why should they respect your time more than you do? Remember, setting the right expectations starts with YOU, and if you're a good steward of your time, others will be able to observe this, and in most cases, they'll realize that you mean business.
3. Create Some Background Noise
One of the primary reasons I survived graduate school was that I perfected the art of creating background noise. By walking into my office (entering my work zone), closing the door (visually indicating that I'm busy), and putting on some soft music (replacing distracting sounds with the right kind of noise), I was able to enter a serene world that otherwise would have been impossible.
In most cases, my trusty Bose Computer Speakers were more than enough to do the trick. Still, when I was away from home and the background interruptions were seriously intrusive (e.g. – airport terminals, coffee shops, visiting friends), a good set of wireless, noise-canceling earbuds or headphones can be A-MA-ZING. These will do the trick if you're serious about blocking out noise and replacing it with comfortable, crystal-clear perfection.
4. Leave The House
There is something inherently distracting about working from home. Sometimes it's the people we live with, sometimes it's where we live, and sometimes it's in our heads.
Nobody is standing over our shoulders when we work from home. Nobody is cracking the whip, and ordering us to GET THINGS DONE!
It's all up to you, and if you don't do it, there are still consequences. For many of us, our environment can have a lot to do with our level of productivity, so if your surroundings are getting in the way of your work, change your environment!
If you don't have a good zone away from home, I suggest you find one and frequent it as often as you need to.
5. Organize Your Priority List
When you've got an overwhelming number of things to do, sometimes the sheer volume of work can be paralyzing (which creates an obstacle in and of itself).
For the times when my work has piled up like Mt. Everest, I've found it immensely helpful to focus on one thing at a time. It's important to remember that your half-finished projects don't count for anything until they are 100% done.
It doesn't matter how much time you've invested into property research, sending out offers, rehabbing a building, or trying to get financing. If you spend dozens of hours on a myriad of projects without finishing any of them, what do you have to show for all of your efforts?
It's important to recognize that multitasking has a very real cost. Rather than burning yourself out and taking significantly longer to get the same amount of work done, start by making a priority list (in order of the things you have the resources to do) and focus on those things first. You may be surprised at how much more tangible your accomplishments feel at the end of each day.
6. Turn off the Notifications and Delete Apps
Part of the reason why everyone relies on their mobile devices these days is because app developers have mastered the art of getting our attention.
Whether it's social media, email, or even a good old-fashioned phone call, your mobile device will monopolize your time until you tell it not to.
Figure out which apps are getting the lion's share of your attention (be honest about this, we've all got them) and turn OFF those notifications. Better yet, if you want to get serious, delete them outright.
If you can muster up the discipline, it's quite empowering to scan through your apps once a month and decide which ones to AXE from your phone. I do it all the time!