Why do you never hear this at the front door of an investment bank? “Yoo-hoo … anybody home? I was in the area, thought I’d pop in for a quick cuppa!”

In our recent Performance, Productivity and Profit webinar (replay online), performance guru Andrew May cited findings that the average worker is interrupted every three-and-a-half minutes, and that the maximum period of uninterrupted time throughout the day was just 11 minutes!

While the biggest culprits are email and smartphones, those of us working from a home office face an additional layer of interruptions and distractions. Four examples are:

“I was in the area”

It’s great when an old friend or family member drops in unannounced, but not when it’s 2.30pm on a Thursday and you’ve got a major project due at 5pm. Stress levels and awkwardness can rise as you balance a smiley “How are you going?” with a silent “When are you leaving?”

Domesticus interruptus

Whether it’s briefing the electrician, rescuing the washing before it rains or picking up a sick child from school, there’s an endless stream of ‘quick’ jobs that can rapidly eat into your work day.

In situations where one partner works from home and the other in an office, it’s inevitably those at home that will bear the brunt of this. You don’t see too many office workers folding baskets of washing between meetings.

The long-time-no-see phone call

While most people would never call someone at work and settle in for a long yarn, it’s not as clear-cut for those working from home. “Gotta go mum, I’m at work!” doesn’t seem to carry the same weight when you work from home.

“I know you’re in there”

When your front door’s open and the radio’s on, you can’t hide from visiting door-to-door sellers, researchers, soul savers and dudes promising 10 per cent off your power bills. Nothing like persistent knocking or doorbell-ringing when you’re on a conference call! Unlike in the office, there’s no ‘gatekeeper’ who can politely tell an unwanted guest that you’re in a meeting.

Whinge as I might, having worked from home for a decade or so, the flexibility to balance work and life is what I love most – and I know offices breed their own stealthy species of interruptions.

But if you don’t set clear boundaries, you can lose hours each day that can seriously damage your business viability.

What are your big time-stealers? How do you manage interruptions when working from a home office?

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