Unbeknownst to many, freelancing is a challenging career path. It’s easy to get fooled by the flexible hours, freedom, and a seemingly endless amount of “free” time that most freelancers seem to enjoy. But unlike colleagues in the 8-5 day job that have a guaranteed check every month’s end, freelancers need a lot more than the willpower to wake up every morning and go to work.
To make ends meet as a freelancer, you must cultivate sharp focus and discipline in order to stay productive throughout the day. Freelancers are more likely to get distracted by small things, especially when working at home. Loud TVs, household chores, kids, idle friends, and a long list of other distractions can easily break concentration and keep you further from your goals.
So, how can you stay focused and productive in the face of all these challenges? Read on for tips on how to grow and establish yourself as an efficient, high-achieving freelancer.
1. Set A Work Routine & Stick To It
Setting a regular work schedule will help you separate work and play and become a more successful freelancer. A routine enables you to avoid burnout, sleepless nights, missed deadlines, and unproductive days when working as a freelancer. When making a routine, assign the toughest jobs to times of the day when you are most creative.
Though work schedules and routines vary, a typical routine should look something like:
- 5:30 am: Wake up
- 6:00 – 7:00 am: Emails, catching up on news
- 7:00 – 11:00 am: Work
- 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Gym, lunch, social media, emails
- 2:00 – 7:00 pm: Work
- 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Family
- 10:30 pm: Bedtime
Of course, this can be amended to fit individual lifestyles but, as a rule of thumb, always ensure that at least 60% of your day is committed to productivity.
2. Manage Distractions
One of the major challenges of being your own boss is managing distractions, especially if you are working from home. Family, chores, TV, and the general temptation to lounge at home can keep you away from achieving your goals. Getting an affordable shared office space can be a good option to avoid such distractions, especially if it’s impossible to establish a No Distractions Zone in the house.
Apart from the physical distractions, you can also get hooked to unproductive internet habits. We all know the pitfalls of the cat video conundrum: once you watch the first cat video, you must watch ALL cat videos. Thankfully, there are tons of software you can use to block web-based distractions, including Cold Turkey, Self Control (for Mac), and the chrome extension, Stay Focusd, which gives you time limits to certain addictive sites.
Your phone can also be a source of distraction, especially after blocking yourself away from your computer. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” to prevent unnecessary distractions while working.
3. Make Time To Work Out
Your work schedule should make time for some form of physical activity. Prolonged durations of sitting have been associated with numerous health problems, including metabolic syndrome and obesity. Working out, even in its simplest form, helps to rejuvenate the body and give you a fresh perspective of the task at hand. For instance, a 10-minute workout was recently shown to be just as effective as longer workouts of moderate intensity.
Physical activities also help to improve brain power and boost problem-solving skills, thanks to the rush of oxygen and nutrients into the brain when your heart rate goes up.
4. Reward Yourself
Cultivating a good reward system will not only help you breathe between tasks, but will also give you something to look forward to when working on a task. It acts as a good self-motivational system that can help you tackle the most difficult of tasks. Set small milestones and a reward for each completed milestone, for instance, a chocolate bar after every two blog posts.
Don’t forget to relax after a long day of work. Pour yourself a glass of wine or pop open a bottle of beer while reflecting on the day’s accomplished tasks.
There are so many measures different people take to become productive and focused as freelancers. The key is finding what works for you through trial and error and making it part of your daily freelancing ritual to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency when working at home.
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