If you're one of the millions of freelancers working from home, you know it's not just rainbows and unicorns.
The moment you sit down and open your laptop, distractions come at you from every corner.
Pets, kids, roommates...the fridge all make staying focused and getting things done challenging.
But fear not, my fellow home-office warriors! 🪖
In this guide, we will share some practical tips and tricks to help you stay focused and productive when working remotely.
The problem with freelancing from home
Working from home has its undeniable perks.
It can save you 4 days (or 104 hours) in commuting time every year.
Not only do you get to skip the dreadful morning commute, but you also have the luxury of being in the comfort of your home.
Need a power nap? Your bed is just a few steps away. Feeling peckish? Your kitchen is stocked and ready to prepare a delicious lunch.
On the other hand, working from home comes with challenges, especially when starting as a freelancer.
Household chores will start looking really interesting when you have a dreaded project you haven't even started on.
You may find yourself scrubbing the floors or rearranging your wardrobe instead of focusing on tasks that can move your business forward. 🤷♀️
A structure in your everyday routine is also challenging unless you consciously try. Not paying attention to small tasks becomes easy when you don't have any accountability from coworkers or a manager.
Without the structure and accountability of a traditional office, it can be challenging to maintain a routine and stay on top of your tasks.
You may struggle to separate your personal life from your work life, leading to a constant feeling of being "on" and difficulty switching off.
While working from home offers many benefits, it also presents unique challenges that can hinder productivity and lead to anxiety, stress and burnout.
How to create the perfect work from home environment
Distractions are inevitable no matter where you work, but they can be particularly challenging when working from home.
Here are some practical tips to help you create a productive and relaxing atmosphere.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
Working from your bed or sofa is tempting and fun until you realize how counterproductive it is.
But creating a dedicated workspace will help your brain go into "work mode" automatically.
Ensure your space has a comfortable chair, a suitable desk, and good lighting.
Consider adding two external monitors to your workstation; you will notice a significant boost in productivity. Trust us, once you experience the benefits of a second screen, you will not want to go back.
Investing in a standing desk is also a great idea if you sit at your desk for hours.
It will help you stay focused longer and break up the monotony of sitting in one spot all day.
A standing desk not only can improve your productivity but your health and can alleviate neck pain.
You can easily switch between sitting and standing positions, keeping your body engaged and helping you maintain a healthy posture.
2. Go full Monk Mode
Monk mode is a productivity hack popular with busy entrepreneurs and executives.
It involves actively escaping all distractions and working in a quiet environment that facilitates focus while working on a single task.
To "enter" Monk Mode, start by creating an environment completely free of distractions.
Move your phone to a separate room, put it in "Do not disturb" mode, or even better...lock it in a dedicated container.
You can also install app or website blockers if you find yourself "accidentally" spending hours on Tik Tok or Instagram.
Consider aslo Deepwrk's body doubling website to escape distractions, focus better, and get more done.
Lastly, keep a pen and some paper nearby to write down any ideas that come to mind during your bouts of focused work.
You might suddenly remember that a lightbulb needs changing or your plants need watering, but those tasks can wait.
3. Change scenery
Staring at the same four walls all day can drain your energy and creativity.
Changing your environment can be a great way to boost your productivity.
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple change of scenery to give your brain the motivation and creativity it needs to tackle complex tasks.
Try working from an ambient coffee shop, a nearby coworking space or a local library.
The change of scenery provides fresh air and a new perspective that can do wonders for your mood, focus and motivation.
4. Set expectations with family and friends
Setting expectations with family, friends, or flatmates is essential when working from home.
Just like how you would expect your coworkers at an office to be mindful, those living with you should also respect your work schedule.
Communicate clearly - let them know your work schedule and make it clear you need focused and uninterrupted time.
Putting up a "do not disturb" sign or using noise-cancelling headphones can also help.
Setting expectations and boundaries allows you to work more effectively by minimizing interruptions and distractions.
How to get more done in less time when working from home
1. Plan your day
The bad news - our brains are not designed to handle the demands of the modern world, especially when working from home.
If you struggle to concentrate or your mind constantly wanders off, it's not just you.
The good news - planning our day can trick our brains into being less of a disorganized mess.
Planning your day involves the following steps:
- Identify the tasks that need to be done
- Setting achievable goals
- Allocating time slots for each task
- Allowing for time buffers
- Having a clear timeline in mind
This entire process should not take more than 15 to 30 minutes.
It can be done early in the morning or as part of a shutdown ritual in the evening and can help you reduce stress and anxiety.
One helpful technique for planning your day is to set achievable goals and work backwards.
Break down your tasks into manageable chunks, track your progress, and reward yourself for staying on track.
By planning your day, you can increase your productivity and stay focused on what really matters.
To maximize your workday, consider incorporating timeboxing into your routine.
It involves allocating a specific time slot for each task on your to-do list.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, Twitter and Tesla, is known to use timeboxing to manage his busy schedule. He breaks his day into five-minute intervals, assigning specific tasks or meetings to each block of time.
Timeboxing your tasks creates structure, helps you avoid overwhelm, and clarifies how you spend your time.
By incorporating a deadline and restricting the time to complete a task, timeboxing helps you escape Parkinson's law and work spillage.
To implement timeboxing effectively, start by breaking your tasks into manageable pieces.
For instance, if you have a large project, break it down into smaller sections and assign each a specific amount of time.
This way, you can manage your workload more efficiently and avoid procrastination.
You might find our article on the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD particularly helpful if you want to implement a highly impactful timeboxing technique.
3. Time blocking
Time blocking is similar to timeboxing in that it involves scheduling specific time slots for tasks.
The one key difference is that time blocking involves assigning a set amount of time for a group of related tasks, whereas timeboxing is focused on individual tasks.
By grouping related tasks together, you can work more efficiently and avoid wasting time context-switching between different types of activities.
One famous proponent of time blocking is Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square.
He divides his day into themes and allocates specific time blocks for each task, such as meetings, creative work, marketing, product, exercise and meditation.
Of course, you don't need to be a tech billionaire to benefit from time blocking. It's a technique anyone can use to structure their day and get more done in less time.
4. Write down your goals and share them
Writing down goals could increase the likelihood of achieving them by 42%.
Putting your goals and tasks on paper forces you to think about your progress and brainstorm a plan of attack.
Writing down your daily, weekly, monthly or yearly tasks clarifies what you want to accomplish and helps you get motivated.
Want something even more powerful? Then share your goals with a friend or an accountability partner. This can provide an extra layer of motivation to stay on track.
5. Accountability groups & accountability partners
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs and freelancers is staying accountable.
Without a boss or supervisor to keep you on task, it's easy to fall victim to procrastination, missed deadlines, and missed opportunities.
This lack of accountability can lead to procrastination, missed deadlines and missed opportunities.
That's where accountability groups and accountability partners come in.
They provide external motivation, support, feedback, and advice to help you stay on track and achieve your goals.
The concept involves working alongside others or having a regular partner/group to catch up on goals and progress, so you can stay motivated and on track.
The idea might sound strange and foreign at first. But let me ask - when have you ever done your best workout?
Let us guess (since you can't answer anyways), it was in a group setting - an exercise class, coworking space, or a library.
Humans are social creatures at heart.
Even the most introverted of us have an innate desire to fit in and show our tribe that we deserve their recognition and acceptance.
External accountability fosters productivity, and a sense of community and belonging that is especially important for those working independently.
You can try an accountability partner app - a tool to easily find accountability partners on demand.
6. Virtual coworking
"Wait, virtual what now?" you say.
Virtual coworking is like having an accountability group at your fingertips whenever needed.
You work alongside others in a remote environment, share your goals with your online coworkers and work in a focused, silent environment.
Online coworking is the perfect solution when you need to buckle down to get things done.
It's like having your own personal cheering squad, without the distractions of a physical workspace (...or the commute).
Consider online coworking next time you need to get stuff done, as it is an excellent tool for mindful, concentrated productivity.
Working from home may have its challenges, but with these practical tips and tricks, you can conquer distractions like a pro.
Take some time to experiment with different strategies until you find what works best for you.
Whether it's creating a dedicated workspace, going full Monk Mode, or joining an online coworking space - remember to prioritize your well-being first.
Good luck, and may the flow be with you. 🌊