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Why Our Minds Drift Toward Distraction While Working Remotely

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

More people than ever are working remotely after lockdown restrictions have closed offices around the globe.

And if you’re in that boat, you may be finding that working remotely is more challenging than you thought it would be.

Let’s face it. We’re not always at our best in the office, but when we’re away, it seems that there are so many more distractions — and no one there to enforce your work compliance.

work from home laptop

In this post, we’re going to cover the biggest distractions you’ll face while working remotely and what to do about them.


When you’re working from home, you’re going to be surrounded by your personal to-do list while you’re trying to focus on your work responsibilities. This creates an internal struggle for so many remote workers. It’s difficult to focus on your spreadsheet when that pile of laundry is staring you in the face.

To combat this problem, spend 10 to 15 minutes every morning knocking out your chores. This way, everything will be done before you start work and you won’t feel torn between your two worlds.


It’s tempting to want to take care of your errands instead of working during the day. While you’re crafting an email to your boss, you might be daydreaming about how empty the grocery stores are in the present moment. If only you could go grocery shopping now and work later. But the problem with putting off work is that there’s always a reason to procrastinate. Before you know it, it’ll be bedtime and you’ll have to stay up late to meet your deadlines.

To combat this distraction, make a list of all the errands you need to do and consider doing them at lunchtime. That’s probably what you would do if you were at work, but at home, you have a few advantages. When you’re at home, you can break for lunch whenever you want. So, might be able to take an hour break at 10 a.m. when stores aren’t so busy.

Relaxation Effect

Even if your office is completely causal, there’s something to be said about working in your pajamas. And while most people think this will be a dream, it ends up being more of a challenge. When you’re in your comfort zone in your loungewear, it can be incredibly difficult to convince your brain to fire on all cylinders. Your settings are sending the message that it’s time to relax, and your brain is getting the signal loud and clear.

Beat the relaxation effect by changing your surroundings. If you’re struggling to be productive, at a minimum, get dressed for work every day. Wear the same clothes you would and follow the same routine you would to get ready for work. When you’re dressed for success, you’re more likely to follow through.

If you’re struggling with the relaxation effect of your surroundings, change them. If possible, work at a library or cafe. And if that’s not the right solution for you, create an office space in your home that you only use when it’s time to work. This could be a separate room or section of a room, but be sure that you only use it for work.

Kids at Home

When you’re working remotely and the kids are at home, it’s safe to say that it probably feels like an uphill battle. And in reality, short of getting a sitter, there isn’t much you can do to guarantee you won’t be interrupted. But there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of getting things done.


First, plan an activity you do with your kids before work. This will give them the face-time they’re desperate for and they’ll be less likely to interrupt you. Next, plan an activity they can do on their own while you’re working. And finally, set a timer and let them know they cannot interrupt your work until that timer goes off. Naturally, emergencies are an exception to this rule.

Room for Vices

When you don’t have to work at the office, there’s a chance your vices may be calling your name. No one is monitoring how many five-minute cigarettes breaks you take, and your boss can’t smell the Irish Cream in your morning coffee. So, it can be tempting to give in to your vices when you’re working from home. But this can be problematic.

For many of us, remote working has become a way of life. And if you get into the habit of drinking while on duty, it’s likely to remain a habit that may even lead to addiction. Addiction comes on without warning or consent. And when we look at addiction as a brain disorder, it’s easy to see how easy it is to lose control.

If your mind wanders while you’re working remotely, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try the tips outlined here and do your best to stay on track. There will always be distractions. It’s how you handle them that will define your productivity (or lack thereof).

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