Minimise distractions while working from home

Friday May 15 2020

Focus.  A man holds his baby as he works from

Focus. A man holds his baby as he works from home. Many people find it hard to work from home but they can be productive if they plan their day well. Photo by Blackenterprise. 

By Nicolas Akasula

Like in other countries, Uganda has had a series of directives, which have since resulted in subsequent lockdowns. And because only a few of the essential staff can still work from their stations, social media has been awash with memes on how it is like a hot seat to work from home.
With some workers having to settle fights among their children at home, or others having to constantly keep checking on who is calling them out. At such a time as this, how can employees working from home minimise distractions?

First things first
Catherine Nantume, the East African coordinator of Women of Purpose International, is one of the many people working from home.
Given her position as regional director, her work has to proceed despite the lockdown on both her side of the liaison office, as well as the headquarters in Massachusetts.
Activity breakdown
“Such a time requires a high level of organisation. And this can be achieved by breaking down the activities into the categories from those that need your highest level of concentration, and those which require less,” she says.
Nantume adds that the former could include duties such as report writing, looking at figures, or doing research, while the latter in returning calls, follow ups, and project monitoring.
“The high level duties can be done in the quieter parts of the day (which can be late at night, or very early morning) then the low level ones can be done during the remaining part of the day” she notes
Joel Kajjajjata, a human resource specialist, agrees with this. He says indeed working from home comes with a number of challenges. However, employees can curb this by coming up with a priority list.
“This should consist of identifying the task and time to be accomplished. It surely calls for self-discipline to be able to have the identified tasks concentrated on, and accomplished. Plus it’s important to know when you start and also end,” he advises.
Evelyn Namuli, a finalist pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Science in Accounting at Makerere University Business School, like other students cannot also travel to school.
She says she is able to keep on with her studies by planning her time well.
“I balance between housework and class work because the lockdown does not mean end of school. I start off with house chores, and later close them off to concentrate on my work,” she says.

Conducive environment
Joel Kajjajjata advises that a conducive working environment should be a priority. “Let it be free from noise, too much heat or coldness. Basically consider a friendly work environment, comfortable to enable you work from home. It can be a comfortable chair, workspace, or good lighting,” he says.
However, the working environment alone is not all as other secondary obstructions like the people we live with can also be an obstacle.
Nantume says: “Domestic partners” such as spouses and children also need to understand that they need to give the worker space to do their work”.
Namuli concurs with the idea saying that if possible, one should lock themselves in a room, and work from there. This is also remedy enough, but Kajjajjata asks that unless your work involves the use of social media, you should try as much as possible to limit it’s usage since it can be a great deal of distraction.

Namuli also thinks that designing a schedule where family members and meals are included, can also help to reduce the distractions.

And Kajjajjata echoes that taking a break will help you to re-energise and enable you attend to other things that would have been distractions.
Nantume believes the status quo is going to just become more of a trend because employers will henceforth look to cut down on rent space, as well as other logistics
“Programmes with interactive software are going to help train us for this kind of work and work hubs like computers, Wi-Fi, and printing services, are going to be even closer to residential homes,” she says.