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The successive typhoons that recently came over the Philippines gave my roof and ceiling a complete beating. I thought I could ignore the rainwater dripping into every room in the house but, when I woke up one morning and found my head completely wet thanks to a new hole, I knew I couldn’t postpone the repairs any longer.
But working from home and having your home repaired can be a chaotic mix. It tends to destroy your routine, concentration and even the quality of your work. So what can we home office workers do to prevent that from happening?
Use noise canceling headphones or other protective gear. This is the most straightforward approach, particularly if noise is your biggest problem. In a previous post, WWD reader Mau recommended the earmuff hearing protectors typically found in shooting ranges. If the noise isn’t too loud, maybe ever a pair of earplugs is enough.
Play some music or other non-distracting background noise. I’ve also tried drowning out the noise with music, preferably something instrumental or with foreign language vocals so that I’m not distracted when I write. If you’re solving the noise issue this way, just stick to whatever kind of music allows you to work. Alternatively, you can play white noise or soothing nature sounds. (Here’s a good collection of nature sounds. The menu on the left also points to ambient sound downloads, including white noise.)
Watch out for more than just the noise. Apart from auditory distractions, there are a lot of other things you need to look out for to stay safe. It may depend on the types of repairs you’re having, but there’s usually a lot of dust particles flying around, especially if you’re working with wood. There may also be materials, tools and other equipment lying around your house during this time.
Change your location. The great thing about being a web worker is that we can take our work with us wherever we go. As much as possible, I would look for a room or area that won’t be repaired for that day. That room then becomes my temporary office.
But sometimes, this approach isn’t enough. If you can leave someone you trust to monitor the repairs, you can work outside your home. This is an important move if you need to be available via voice chatting or conference calls. Just make sure you can be easily contacted if you need to make certain decisions regarding the repairs.
Change your work hours. Another strategy that’s been successful for me is to change my working hours around the repair schedule. I take advantage of the handyman’s rest days by working more hours on those days. Also, during his workdays, I get up very early and start work before he does. Alternatively, you can work during the evenings.
Make the effort to do routine home maintenance tasks. It might also help to take preventive measures by performing home maintenance tasks regularly. This may help you spot most potential problems along the way rather than force you to deal with one big problem that requires several noisy days or weeks to fix.
Have you ever worked from home during extensive repairs? What did you to do make sure your work got done despite the distractions?