A lot of people wouldn’t be able to do anything productive without a boss or someone breathing down their neck. Without the threat of authority they wouldn’t get out of bed at a reasonable hour, wouldn’t be productive and would basically do nothing but watch television or engage in whatever their favorite distraction is.
For the self-employed individual who works from home, it’s not always easy to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Here are some tactics to keep you off of Facebook, and tuned in to your tasks.
Make a schedule and stick to it.
Write out a list of tasks that you need to complete in the order of importance. If your invoicing can wait until the end of the month, but a report for a client can’t, itemize and rank your tasks in order of immediate to less immediate importance. Once you’ve mapped out everything you need to accomplish, schedule time in your calendar to complete the tasks. Break down your month, week and day of work. If you’re a manual time tracker, this will help you at the end of the month when you’re doing bookkeeping/invoicing.
Give yourself a deadline.
Establish realistic deadlines for the completion of a specific project, or for larger projects, for the various stages of the project. Make sure you log your deadlines to keep yourself accountable.
Take a break.
When you’re working from home, your home becomes your office. It’s important to give your brain some rest. Eat lunch away from your computer. Maybe even head outside for a break and get some fresh air. If you’re finding it hard to focus, a little break might just be what you need. Try not to take your break in front of the TV as it’s never a temporary distraction.
Log out of social media sites.
Unless your work requires you to be plugged in to social media, log out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. Turn social media notifications on your phone on silent. Social media can be a major distraction and once you’ve been sucked in, you’ll lose hours of valuable time that could have been dedicated to completing work that you’re actually being paid for. If you’re not sending emails or need to use the internet, log out of your wifi to ensure you can’t idly log in to social media or surf random blogs.
Always know where you left off and where to start.
If you’re juggling multiple projects throughout the day, keep detailed notes on where you’re leaving your work for the day and where you intend on picking up the next day. If you’re working one on project and switching to another, you’ll know exactly where you’ve left off and what you need to work on – this can save you hours each week.
Change your scenery.
If you have a dedicated workstation or office in your home, and are getting tired of staring out of the same window or at the same computer screen, get up and change locations. If you’re working on a laptop, head out to a Starbucks or library. You can also try sprucing up your office, or moving furniture around to give yourself a new line of vision.
Let go of the guilt.
No one can be productive 100% of the time and everyone has an off day. If you had a day where all you did was randomly look at Ikea furniture online, watch Master Chef, and fold laundry, don’t stress about it. You weren’t as productive as you wanted to be today, but tomorrow you can do better.
Remember why you’re self-employed.
There will be days when your clients haven’t paid you on time, your wifi is falling off the radar, your phone is ringing non-stop and you can’t remember why you’re not working a regular 9-5 that gave you a steady cheque. Stop and remember when you’re self-employed. Whether it was the horrible commute, dressing in a monkey suit every day, or not be able to be as creative as you’d like – you’re self-employed on your own terms. You are the master of your own destiny and are in total control. Take a moment, and a deep breath, and realize how good you really do have it.