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How to Work From Home During Chaotic Repairs

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1224085_measuring_tapeThe 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?

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7 Responses to “How to Work From Home During Chaotic Repairs”

  1. This post really illustrates the fact that just because you work from home doesn’t meen you can avoid normal outside stress. In order to be productive in a work from home situation, you really need to be able to adapt to a range of situations. You need to learn to ignore distractions, stay focused, and keep yourself on task to succeed as you won’t have someone looking over your shoulder all the time to make sure things get done.

  2. I am in the same predicament as you are right now. And I also have to deal with nasty paint odors. Good thing that our house has a second floor and the repairs are only on the ground floor. And since I cannot leave the house because I need to be constantly talking to the carpenters and buying materials, I simply requested my client for a slight change in my schedule. And it’s been working out great.

  3. I’m dealing with this right now – the most frustrating part is that you cannot leave, since you are the point person for the contractor with regards to questions about the job. Some days, it’s not a problem, but there are days when there is a constant stream of interruptions. Unfortunately, there is no solution for this problem. Arghhhhh…

  4. I was also having a same problem since I work home and I had my flat renovated. I simply solved the problem by going to vacation while everything was being redone in the flat. I returned 14 days later and continued with the work. So I guess I went for the “change of location” solution from your list.