Clutter Free photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
The overwhelming majority of freelancers work from home – and when you do, it can be really difficult to switch into ‘office’ mode – especially when your office dress code is quite relaxed about sweatpants…
Fortunately, there are tried and tested tricks and tips that’ll help you get through a good-sized workload – or, if your workload is a manageable size; let you focus your best efforts on the task at hand.
Create a dedicated space
You might not have the luxury of having an ‘office’ room in your house – but that doesn’t stop you from creating your own bit of workspace.
Perhaps your dining table needs to become your office during the day? Or you can take over the living room while everyone else is out? It’ll mean tidying your things away each evening but having a dedicated space helps you to switch into a working frame of mind when you need to focus.
If you’re spending a lot of time at a desk or laptop, it’s absolutely vital that you’re comfortable – if you’re not, your aching back will impact your mood and have you breaking concentration at the most inconvenient moments.
If you’re at a desk, buy a chair you’re comfortable on. You don’t have to spend a fortune – even a cheap computer chair is better than making do with a dining chair.
Put your phone out of sight
Cell phones are kryptonite for people who work from home – they tend to be sitting in front of you all the time – and they’re so easily picked up when you’re keen to see what’s happening on social media, the news, your email… etc.
You’ll free up at least 30 minutes every day by putting it somewhere that’s out of sight. It might be difficult at first, but when you get used to the idea that you’re not missing out if your phone isn’t in your hand constantly, your productivity will go through the roof.
Home office image by Pexels
Decluttering your workspace isn’t for everyone – there are some people who’ll argue that a messy desk is part of their creativity. If that’s you then great, but for majority of us, having a clear working space means fewer distractions and less time wasted compared to searching through paperwork and mess.
If tidying up saves you 10 minutes of rooting through paperwork and drawers every day – those 10 minutes add up to a full working week over the course of a year. That’s some serious added productivity.
Learn to walk away
This is going to be hard to hear for a lot of people – but it really pays to be able to walk away from your desk and consider your work day ‘done’. This walking away might involve closing your office door, shutting down your laptop – or simply packing your stuff away. Whatever it is, it’s an important ritual.
For many of us, freelance working involves doing something that we’re passionate about and we enjoy – which can make it difficult to draw a line under each day. By closing your ‘office’, you put solid time limits in place – which will help you maximise the hours you have in a day – and help you unwind into the evening – giving you the best fighting chance when you’re back at your desk.
Headphones image by Stocksnap
Set some boundaries
If you’ve got a family or shared living space, it’s often not enough to be disciplined with your own attitude toward your office – sometimes, you need to let people know that you’re busy.
This is difficult – because no one wants to stop you working – but being social or needing your help for 5 minutes here and there is enough to knock you off the flow of what you’re doing, and it can take quite some time to find your feet again.
Creating a boundary is easier if you’ve got a door you can close between you and the rest of the house – but if you can’t, headphones offer something of an alternative. Noise cancelling headphones will help you lock out the noise of people and activity around you – and they can be a clear indication to people around you that you’re in ‘work mode’.
Set the right tone
While we’re talking headphones, it’s good to pipe some music into your ears that creates an office mood
As a freelancer, you’re likely to be working alone – which can leave the atmosphere somewhat lacking. Music can really help though – whether you’re looking for some up-tempo energetic tunes that’ll get you through that early afternoon lull – or you’d like some ambient noise that helps you focus on difficult tasks, services like Spotify or Apple Music will give you a few options that help adjust your mindset.
Task notebook photo by Free-Photos on Pixabay
Have a distractions pad
Unless you have some seriously hardcore level of discipline you’ll find it hard to not let distractions pull you away from your working during that day – and that can be doubly-difficult for you if you’ve got a quick-thinking creative brain.
For many people, executing ideas the second you have them is the only way to be certain that they won’t escape and be forgotten forever – so, if you want to make sure you capture them, have a notepad by your side all the time. When something comes up that you absolutely must do right now, jot it down as the next thing to do when you’re finished with the task at hand. It’s highly unlikely that it can’t wait – and once again, not immediately reacting will keep you in a productive headspace and stop you from worrying about forgetting.
Move the air
When you sit in the same room for most of the day you’re likely to be recycling the air that’s around you time and time again – and as you do, you’re depleting the amount of oxygen you’re taking in – which can make you feel drowsy, lethargic and under-motivated.
Getting a small desk fan can really help to keep the air around you moving. You don’t have to have it pointing directly at you like a hairdryer – just having it oscillating in the room is enough to keep some air circulating and oxygen levels up. Combined with a slightly open window or a gentle air-con setting will stop you feeling like you could put your head on your laptop and fall asleep…
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