Freelance Friday: 8 Tips for Boosting Productivity When Working From Home

January 27th, 2017 by Chris Henson

This blog is part of our Freelance Friday series, where we discuss everything and anything related to freelancing. If you are a freelance writer and are looking for additional work, consider applying at Search Influence.

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Workforce productivity is a key metric tracked by most businesses. In an office setting, you can use innumerable tools to track productivity and often have at least one manager (if not multiple) on your back making sure your numbers are high.

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But what about freelancers? By design, we all know there are more distractions and temptations at home than in the office. Without the structure, supervision, and accountability of office life, freelancers are vulnerable to diversion, lulls, and even apathy. Freedom and flexibility are the great advantages of freelancing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of productivity.

So, how can you ensure that your productivity is maximized, even while working from home? It all boils down to this: Treat freelancing as you would any other office job. You have to manage yourself and your schedule effectively.

The fact of the matter is that freelancing full-time is a real job. You may think you already know this from experience, but unless you structure your daily schedule to mirror a normal job, it never truly will be.

Freedom and flexibility are the great advantages of freelancing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of productivity. Change your mindset–doing this will ensure maximum productivity.

Here are 8 easy tips to boost productivity when working from home.

1. Create a dedicated workspace.

Working from the couch is just a distraction waiting to happen. Create a space specifically dedicated to working in your home, preferably an office. It certainly doesn’t have to be a cubicle, but rather, a comfortable, stress-free area where you can get work done and where others know you are working so that they do not disturb you.

2. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and get started early.

Getting an adequate night’s rest is important for everyone, freelancers included. Starting early kicks off your day on the right foot and will help you get more work done. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should stop mid-afternoon for a power nap. Get to bed early, wake up well-rested, and stay refreshed.

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3. Shower and get dressed.

Rolling out of bed in your pajamas is fine for the weekend, but not for a workday. For most, a shower helps to wake you up and getting dressed puts you in the right mindset. Getting ready for work at home should be no different than getting ready for work at an office—at least the commute is shorter.

4. Structure your day into attainable blocks.

We all like accomplishing things, especially small, work-related goals. If you structure your day into blocks dedicated to a specific task, you can move seamlessly from one to the next and still get a feeling of accomplishment after completing each step. This way you can also hold yourself accountable and monitor your progress more efficiently. Scheduling and organization are a must!

5. Take regular breaks, but limit them.

Regular breaks to stretch, clear your head, or eat lunch, can recharge you and promote better work afterward. There is a reason why companies are legally obligated to give their employees breaks. You—as a company of one—are entitled to those same mental and physical health benefits. But as both the employee and boss, you have to make sure that time is used effectively. Taking a nap or running errands for extended periods of time are not efficient breaks.

6. Avoid distractions.

Admittedly, this may be the toughest one to accomplish. Distractions are everywhere at home. From TV and social media to the dishes and laundry, there is a never-ending list of things that seem more important or fun than doing your work. This is where discipline and accountability play a major role. Unplug the TV, download an app that limits your social media usage, and know that household chores can be done at more appropriate times (but let’s be honest, you weren’t really going to do the dishes or fold the laundry, were you?).

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7. Set a clear end time.

You may not officially work from 9–5, but quitting time is important nonetheless. When working from home, it is easy for your work life and personal to blend, but having a firm start and end time will go a long way in preventing this. Knowing that you are stopping at a certain time, will encourage you to get the work completed in time so that you are not forced to work “overtime” (without the time and half pay). Making plans after work is a great way to make sure you stick to this.

8. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you.

Though freelancers may typically work alone, that doesn’t mean they live alone. Whether it is a roommate or a family member, make sure they are aware that you are working and should not be disturbed. Ultimately, it is on you to ensure that others respect your work schedule. To do this, you have to respect it first. Set aside your personal life when working from home and maintain your productivity.