Let’s be honest: being a freelancer is awesome.
You can work from wherever you want, so you’re not forced to spend hours on your commute to the office every day. You can work from your sofa, your bed, your garden, your kitchen… And you can work in your pyjamas, or in those ugly sweatpants you bought when you were determined to go to the gym at least twice a week. And you have unlimited access to your fridge, kettle and coffee machine. And you don’t feel judged if you watch a video by Matthew Santoro on YouTube because you need to relax (plus, it’s informational, folks!).
Ok, this might be getting slightly autobiographic…
As I said, working a freelancer is awesome. But it can be terribly unproductive. Sometimes you just can’t resist the coffee machine calling you. Sometimes Matthew Santoro is so good that you have to watch another video.
Yes, I’ve had my unproductive moments. And I’ve had to sacrifice evenings and weekends because of them.
Luckily, I found a few life hacks to minimise distractions and boost my productivity. And I decided to share them with you.
Appearance is everything. Your brain associates pyjamas with a state of relaxation and sleep, so working in your PJs may slow you down and let you surrender to more distractions. Getting dressed in the morning will instantly get you in a work mode, and will help your brain distinguish between work time and home time.
CLEAN YOUR WORK SPACE
Before turning on your computer to start working, make sure that your work space is clean and tidy. Your desk should be the physical representation of your work mind: if you clutter it with potential distractions (books, crosswords, newspapers, or even your mobile), your brain will be more inclined to give into those distractions.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
There are countless time management techniques that improve efficiency and increase productivity, such as the popular Pomodoro Technique. Personally, I like to work without interruptions for two hours, take a 15 minute break, work another two hours, take a 1 hour break for lunch, and then work another 4 hours with a 15 minute break after the first two hours. This helps me keep my focus and avoid distractions, and also prevents me from going to the fridge or the coffee machine every 10 minutes.
LISTEN TO BAROQUE MUSIC
If you’re like me and you hate silence, try listening to some baroque music. This genre has been proven to help you maintain focus and thus be more productive. You can find some very good playlists on Spotify and YouTube: my personal favourite is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
FORGET THE SOFA
For the same reason you should not work in your pyjamas, you should also not work on your sofa or bed. Your mind will be set on relax mode instead of work mode, and closing your eyes to relax for five minutes could easily become a very long nap. Try to keep your life space separate from your work space: avoid working from your bedroom if you have another area of your home you can use as an office. And if you don’t have another room to use, try to physically separate your bed from your desk, i.e. with a fabric panel or a room divider.