Becoming self-employed often means spending a considerable amount of time working from home, and while there’s always the option to head out and steal WiFi from your local coffee shop when you’re feeling lonely, it’s a good idea to have some sort of home desk setup ready to act as your office when work hours are in session.
But what if the TV is, you know, right there? And did you finish that tub of Pringles last night or are they still up for grabs? There are a million and one things to distract you at home when you’re meant to be working. Here are 5 ways to tackle procrastination when working from home, and have a truly productive day.
Set yourself work hours, and stick to them
It may sound simple, but deciding what hours you will work in advance means you are more likely to at least attempt to stick to them. Sure, self-employment brings with it the freedom to make your own hours, run errands during the day if you want to, heck you can even nip out to see the new Transformers movie during the day if you fancy it, but the most effective way to ensure you work a decent amount of hours each day is to decide in advance when you will be working, and when you won’t be.
Will you work from 7am until 2pm and then go enjoy the rest of your day? Perhaps you’d like to stick to the standard 9am-5pm to better match your clients? Or maybe you’d prefer to have brunch with your friend next Tuesday so you set your hours from 12 midday until 8pm. Whatever you want is absolutely fine, just decide in advance so you’re less likely to change your plans halfway through the day.
Limit your email response time
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Work Week and all-round cool guy, only checks his emails twice a day. This may seem crazy, especially when your clients are relying on you to deliver the goods and may be hounding you with questions every day, but limiting your email response time means almost certainly increasing your productivity.
Here are some benefits of checking your emails just twice a day:
- You won’t begin to use Outlook or Hotmail as your go-to procrastination page.
- You won’t be distracted by something that comes into your inbox that may seem more urgent.
- Your clients won’t expect you to answer back straight away, and will understand that you have other commitments that take up your time.
- You’ll feel the joy of being “off the grid”, something that you could almost never get away with when working in an office.
Write your to-do list the night before
This cannot be stressed enough as a seriously important step in the ritual of shaping your day. Writing down your most important tasks the night before means that you have created clarity in your brain about what tomorrow will bring (the less uncertainty, the better control you will have over any work related anxiety) and your mind will even begin to process these to-do’s while you sleep, so you’ll feel completely ready to get up and attack the day the next morning.
Choose your six MITs (most important tasks) and write them down in bullet point form. Even better if you include a time next to them indicating what time in the day you expect to start and finish this task. Then, leave the notebook on your desk or work space so that it’s the first thing you see when you start work the next day.
Take a midday walk
Especially in the early stages of setting yourself up as self-employed, you may be working long hours, and exercise is the last thing on your mind. While you don’t need to run out to the gym every night, a simple 20 minute walk outside could clear your head and help you reset so you’re even more productive and efficient when you get back to your desk.
Have designated snack times
The freedom of self-employment is great, but no doubt every freelancer goes through the motions of feeling like they can eat whenever they like throughout the day. Desk snacks? Check. Amazing lunch? Check.
Snacking continuously all day long can be pretty distracting for some, so if you recognise that it’s affecting your pattern of work and interrupting your flow, put down the chocolate and give yourself designated times to snack so you can stay mentally focused on work until it comes time to eat.
How do you stay focused on work throughout the day? What are your productivity must-haves? Let us know next time you’re working from home.
Photo by Corinne Kutz via Unsplash Corinne Kutz