Prime advantage number one to being a freelancer: you get to set your schedule.
Prime disadvantage number one for freelancers: you get to set your schedule.
Yes, this same benefit can be both a pro and a con when no one is looking over your shoulder, micromanaging your job. It depends on you and your habits.
If you’re easily distracted, you can find yourself going down a rabbit hole and losing hours of productivity each week. To avoid the dangers of getting distracted, use these tips that increase your focus.
1. Establish Your Work Environment
Every freelancer needs an office area where they can turn on their “work” brain.
Even if the work you do takes you out in the field, like photography or construction, you still have a lot of tasks to do behind the scenes. Scheduling, organizing, invoicing, paying bills … all of these things should be done in one central location.
Design your office area in a way that eliminates anything unrelated to your job. Keep the desk and walls as clutter-free as possible. If you’re like many people and you’re doubling up your office inside another room, use dividers and partitions to minimize outside distractions.
These tools can also be a signal to anyone else in the home that you’re working. If the divider is up, you’re not available to talk.
2. Create a Routine
We all get it. It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning, especially when the pillows are extra comfy or you had a restless night of sleep.
Don’t hit the snooze button, though. Train yourself to act like you have a job to go to with a whip-cracking boss. You must be on time, or you’ll get fired.
Having a morning routine is essential if you want to be successful, according to many experts. This consistency trains your brain on what to expect and helps you move forward on your goals faster.
As a gig worker, your time is even more valuable than ever. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Staying healthy is vital, and this routine gives you the chance to bring some wellness into your day.
Healthcare can be expensive as a freelancer. Fortunately, there’s COBRA and other alternatives that freelancers can capitalize on.
Whatever you include in your routine, make it count. You’re taking control of every minute, knocking out any obstacles early, and bringing that momentum into the rest of your day.
3. Recognize Your Distractions
Take a day or two and go through your day as you would normally. The only thing you’ll do differently is to keep a notebook on you and list what you’re doing “on the clock” when you’re not actively working.
Tally how many times you do that particular thing and for about how long you did it.
For instance, you find yourself scrolling through social media, and suddenly ten minutes have gone by when you just meant to check your messages. Write “social media,” make a tally, and put “10” next to it.
Do the same thing for your online shopping distractions, chats, games, and anything else that isn’t work-related.
At the end of the day, you’ll see where your major areas of distraction are and how much time you lost to them. This little activity could be majorly eye-opening, and you’ll use this info on the next step.
4. Put Some Structure In Place
Now that you know where your challenges are, it’s time to put structure in place to knock them out of the way.
This involves setting boundaries for you and others. As long as you’re determined to stay focused and productive, they’ll work.
Here are some tips to add structure based on the most common areas of distraction.
It happens to all of us. We’re in the zone, doing our thing and making great progress when suddenly, the phone rings or a text alert chimes. Without even thinking about it, the phone is in our hands, and we’re dealing with a distraction.
It might be an easy text to respond to, taking a few seconds, but it adds up to lots of lost time. You’ve lost your momentum, and your brain takes a few minutes to get refocused.
If this is your distraction area, turn your phone on silent, set it to Do Not Disturb, and keep it in another room.
Don’t get caught in the black hole of the internet. When you’re working, use an app blocker like Forest.
With these blockers, you choose which sites are “forbidden” and when. The apps gently (or forcefully) remind you to get back on track if you try to access the prohibited site.
Set structure, enforce boundaries, and remind yourself why you’re working so hard every day. Those minor distractions add up to massive time off of crushing your goals.
From the time your alarm clock shrills through the end of your workday, every minute matters. Use these four tips to ensure you’re optimizing your time on task, so you can maximize your personal life, too.