If you’ve ever tried searching for stock photos of freelancers, you can see that they perpetuate the belief that freelance workers tend to hang out in coffee shops, on the beach, or in the park while they get their work done. Although the flexibility of being a freelancer is a huge benefit for many people and sometimes freelancers do take advantage of not-so-typical workspaces, any freelancer can tell you that more often than not, they’re working from home. (Also – don’t take a laptop out on the beach. Sand + keys = bad news.)
Your home is the place you reside, your nest, your comfortable place. It houses all your possessions and passions. So, when it’s time to get down to work, how can you ignore all that your home has to offer and get in the mindset to be productive? You have to free your home workspace of all distractions. Here’s some tips to help make your home office the disruption-free haven you’ve been wanting.
- Have a space dedicated to work
It may be tempting to lay on the couch and watch TV or sit in bed while you get your work done. Being comfortable is important, but these environments offer too much distraction and not enough separation from the rest of your comfortable, at-home life. If it’s possible, set up your home office in a completely separate room so there will be a physical barrier between yourself and distractions in other rooms. If that’s not possible, pick a quiet corner and set up a make-shift barrier, such as a bookshelf, to remove your space from the rest of the room. Having this separate space will help you convince yourself that it’s time to work, not distract yourself with other things.
- Make it your own
Your workspace should be a place you want to spend time in. So, you should make it feel comfortable and have it nicely decorated. Pick a comfy office chair, buy a few house plants, and put some art on the walls. These things shouldn’t be loud, bright, or overwhelming, but just aesthetically pleasing and comfortable enough that you enjoy spending time in your workspace.
- Keep your desk tidy
This is just common sense: your workspace will feel more organized if it isn’t cluttered. Take a few minutes before you start your workday to clear your desk of any clutter and distractions. File papers away, take the dirty coffee mugs to the kitchen, and put away the separate project you’ve been working on. When nothing but the task at hand is in front of you, you’ll have an easier time focusing your energy on just that.
- Create itemized to-do lists
Many people who find to-do lists ineffective are really just creating ineffective to-do lists. Start your day by taking the item to create an itemized list of things you actually need/want to achieve that day. It should be very task-specific, not just general goals and should focus on things you really need to do. Do it old-school with pen and paper so you can cross items off as you’ve achieved them. It’s very gratifying. Having a system for getting things done will help you steer clear of distractions.
- Take meaningful breaks
People tend to focus better when they give themselves a break every once in a while. This doesn’t mean just mindlessly scrolling through social media, however. Stand up from your chair, stretch a little bit, maybe walk outside or get a drink of water. Let your brain be free of anything work or stress related. Play with a pet for a few minutes, read a chapter of a book, or listen to your favorite song. A break should be a break. Don’t try to be productive during it. Purposefully taking scheduled, meaningful breaks will have you feeling rested and ready to be productive when it’s time to work.
If you are working from home as a freelancer, it’s important to set up some sort of office that will assist you, not hinder you, in having a distraction-free workplace. Make it some place you want to work and keep it tidy. When it’s time to work, have specific lists and goals for the day and remember to take a break every once in a while. This combination will allow you to have a workplace free from any commotion or interruption.