Many freelancers are surprised at how easily they get distracted when working from home. They sit down at their desks, coffee at hand, and find themselves two hours later deep in YouTube videos and their Facebook news feeds.
Time is a freelancer’s most precious resource, so it’s your responsibility to utilize your time for your freelancing business. But instead of telling you to completely change your lifestyle or make huge leaps to boost your productivity, let’s start with the baby steps.
Here are 7 quick fixes to stay focused and productive when working from home:
Quick Fix #1: Create a work schedule.
A work schedule may sound counterintuitive to the notion that you can work at any time of the day, but I find that having a simple routine in place gives me the direction I need to stay focused and organized throughout the day.
Create a simple work schedule that fits your lifestyle while enabling you to work efficiently. Make sure to include breaks in between work hours to give yourself the rest you need to keep going.
Quick Fix #2: Break large tasks into bite-sized tasks.
Whenever we’re faced with a big task, we feel the urge to distract ourselves to get out of doing the work. Fight back the urge to distract yourself by breaking your daily to-do’s down to smaller and easier tasks.
For example, you can break down “Write a new blog post for Client A” into three smaller tasks:
Task #1: “Write the introduction.”
Task #2: “Write the body of the blog post.”
Task #3: “Write the conclusion.”
Another benefit to this is being able to create and celebrate small wins, which can motivate you to keep on going until you’ve reached completion.
Quick Fix #3: Allow yourself to take timed breaks
Work without rest is the quickest way to burn yourself out, but you don’t want to spend too much of your time browsing or reading people’s Facebook statuses.
Instead, set a limit to the length of your breaks when creating your work schedule. In my case, I give myself up to 30 minutes of rest before diving back into work.
Quick Fix #4: Remove all sources of distractions before going to work.
Research shows that it takes a whopping 25 minutes to get back to work after being distracted. That’s 25 precious minutes that could have gone to billable work!
Prevent this from the beginning by removing all sources of distractions before sitting down to work. This includes notifications and pings from email, social media, and the like.
Quick Fix #5: Immerse yourself in creativity and inspiration.
Give yourself the opportunity to be creative or to expose yourself to sources of inspiration. This enables your brain to be inspired and to create new ideas that can be implemented into your client work.
Immersing yourself in sources of creativity doesn’t always mean a trip to the national museum. It can simply be a walk around the park, watching someone’s creative process, listening to a good joke, or reading your favorite book.
Quick Fix #6: Be more in tuned with your body’s needs.
When I started freelancing, I always thought that being able to fight hunger and sleep to do one’s work was cool and ideal. I tried it myself, but always came out exhausted and with low-quality work that I had to redo the next day.
Instead, I listened to my body’s needs more. When I needed to take a nap, I set my alarm for twenty minutes and slept. When I needed a drink of water or a few minutes to stretch, I did so without hesitation.
The result? A clear head for focus, energy to work, and a happier freelancer to do business with.
Quick Fix #7: Use apps to automate your daily tasks.
The final quick fix is to automate low-priority tasks to save you more time to do the most important work.
For example, you can use an invoicing app like Nutcache to handle time tracking, estimations, and invoice generation rather than creating your own invoice on Microsoft Word.
You can also use apps like Zapier to perform specific actions between apps, such as sending Gmail attachments to Dropbox or saving client email addresses to a spreadsheet.
What productivity tip works for you?
All these productivity tips may or may not work for different freelancers, so it helps to widen the conversation. Tell me, what productivity tip or quick fix do you implement and that works for you? Share your experiences in the comments.
Stef Gonzaga is a writer and creative who creates passion-driven work for people to use, enjoy, and share with the world. To learn more about how to launch and build your freelancing business for success, check out the Launch Your Freelancing Biz program for a lifetime access to all of her freelancing tools, guides, and resources.