When you work from home, there can be a million and one distractions. It’s also quite difficult to motivate yourself to keep working, and ignore temptation. When you can have a nap or spend an hour on social media whenever you like, getting any work done is kind of a challenge.
I’ve got some handy hacks to help you be more productive. But you will only get more done if you actually follow them. I can’t say I always do. I know what I need to do to stay focused, but nevertheless, I still get distracted and do things that I know are wasting my time.
However, if you at least try and do some of these things most of the time, you will find you get a lot more done. Here’s my top productivity tips for those who are self-employed, work from home and freelance.
1. Turn off mobile data on your phone during the day
Don’t let those constant Whatsapp messages and social media notifications crush your productivity. Turn off your mobile data then it’s only calls and texts you can get distracted by.
2. Don’t have too many tabs open
Having a gazillion tabs open will distract you for sure. It also makes your brain feel really cluttered. If you need to keep lots of tabs open for reference, keep them in a separate window.
3. Take a break every hour
Simple advice I know, but crucial. Don’t try and power through hours and hours of work without breaks. The quality of work I produce when I try and do this isn’t up to scratch, so if I need a break, I take one.
4. Check your emails at set times
Don’t constantly check your emails and reply to them throughout the day. I’m guilty of this. One email can send you on a wild goose chase, and before you know it you can lose track of what you were doing in the first place.
5. Write a to-do list, and don’t stray from it (do nonurgent things)
Every single morning I write a to-do list, and yet, I still end up straying from it. Your to-do list has items on it for a reason, because they need to get done. So don’t get distracted and do other things, even if a client is tempting you to.
6. Don’t overload yourself
If you set too ambitious targets for the day, not only will you fail to achieve them, but you will feel guilty for not managing to get everything done. It causes unnecessary stress. You aren’t going to be productive if it feels like you have a million and one things to do.
7. Manage people’s expectations
I’m not talking about your clients (even though managing their expectations is also uber important), I’m talking about your friends and family. It’s tough when you are freelance not to just pop out and spend time with your friends.
Because you can be flexible, people expect you to just be able to do stuff. Be strict and don’t be afraid to say no. Just because you don’t work set nine to five hours doesn’t mean you don’t have a shit load of work to do.
8. Find out what time of day you work best
Don’t feel restricted to the bog standard nine to five just because society tells you to. You are freelance. Which means you are free to choose your own hours based on what suits you.
If your work best super early in the morning then start early and finish around 3. If you are a night owl, then work some evenings instead of during the day. Being a successful freelancer is partly about figuring out when you are at your best, and capitalising on this.
9. Ignore non-urgent work distractions
You might get people hassling you for stuff during the day. When you are really focused on a project, this can be frustrating. Unless it’s in your interests to get something done or it’s urgent, try and reschedule the work for another day.
10. If you hit a wall, stop and catch up later
Don’t try and soldier on when you clearly aren’t getting anything done. You are not in an office, you don’t have to plough on through the day. Take advantage of being your own boss and walk away from your computer. Come back to your work again when you are feeling refreshed and you know you can do a good job.