When you first tell someone that you’re a freelancer they usually get pretty jealous that you work from home. “Oh that is so awesome. You save so much time on your commute. And you get to wear whatever you want to,” most corporate friends have said to me at some point.
And all of this is true. Working from home can be really awesome for the above reasons. That is, up until the point that you realize you’ve been on Pinterest for the past two hours and still haven’t showered yet. Oh, and is that the sound of the dog needing a walk?
If you’re a typical 9 to 5er, “getting to” work from home (WFH) is a sometimes luxury / perk. But, if you’ve been doing this long enough, there are times when the home office turns into a hole in the office and no work seems to get accomplished. At least any work that is considered billable hours.
With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list to help improve productivity for work from home freelancers.
Freelanzr’s Top 10 Productivity Tips to Work from Home
Start right away.
As soon as your alarm goes off (yes, I set an alarm) get up and get to work. After getting ready, I will only stop to make a Cappuccino on the way to my computer. I feel like this is giving me an edge on the rest of the workforce too since I don’t have to commute – which is important to my personal brand. Breakfast only comes once I need a creative break.
Treat your home like it’s an office
It may seem like a cliche but it’s a great idea to shower and get ready for work like you would if going to an actual office. Now, for me, that’s an office where jeans and a polo shirt are appropriate attire (robes and bare feet are not) but it really makes a difference to my psyche to get ready each day as if I’m going to an office.
Structure your day like you would at an office
Most people have a routine they follow/fall into working for a big corporation. Such as mornings are for setting goals and meetings. Writing happens in the early afternoon. New business is done after lunch. Emails are taken care of in the afternoon, etc. Creating a clear work structure will help you stay focused and be more productive.
Create obstacles to social media
There is no greater timesuck than looking at pictures of your friends going with their kids to visit colleges on Facebook. Or recipes on Pinterest. Or the world’s best beach photos on Instagram. You get the idea. I make a rule – no open tabs with social media sites. And this is tough for me since I’m a freelance social content marketer and I could easily claim it’s part of my job. But I’m also aware of how quickly time can fly by watching cat videos. Shut. It. Down.
Work from other home offices
I like heading out for the afternoon content creation portion of my day down to the Peet’s coffee (two blocks from home). It’s important to get out and feel like part of a community while beating the blood sugar blues with caffeine. Not to mention, it’s my local cafe so seeing other entrepreneurs and business people I may know can give me much needed moments of collaboration as well.
Be the company that goes above and beyond
And by “the company,” we mean you. Think about all of the brands you love to interact with. It’s usually because their product or service has done more than you expected. Be the same type of Freelancer. Commit (in some cases to yourself) to doing more than you think you can or should. Of course, make sure you charge for actual billable hours. But challenge yourself to be more responsive on the phone, give better service, act like your client is your company, anticipate needs before others know they have them.
Additionally, when you commit to more than you think you can do, you will be less likely to waste time doing those things that don’t translate to more billable hours at a higher rate.
Work when you’re at your most productive
It’s a great thing when you understand what time during the workday that you are the most proficient at doing certain tasks. Even if that is actually a work-night. If you find that you are the most creative at 11 pm, by gosh create then. Of course, discovering that your new client networking skills are best at 2 am can be a problem, so be sure to adjust accordingly.
Match your audio to the task at hand
There are those freelancers who feel that they get their best work done by having the TV on in the background. I am not one of those folks. I will get distracted easily and soon be watching Jerry Springer marathons. To me, it’s all about finding the right playlist for the right part of my day. God bless Sonos and the ability to quickly find AC/DC, Coldplay, or even NPR to be the wind beneath my work wings.
Take clear breaks
If you were a salaried employee you would be entitled to two fifteen minute breaks and a lunch during your 8 hour day. These are important and be sure to schedule them. I take mine at 10:45 and 2 – if working during the daylight hours.
But breaks are also vacation time too. And let’s face it, one of the reasons for freelancing is for increased time away from work. Schedule your vacations too. What’s great about this is that you can, in theory, schedule during non-peak travel times… like a Wednesday.
Pick a clear end time each day
Set and stick to a time to stop working each day. It’s important for making sure you don’t waste time too when you know that you’re going to have to shut it down at x o’clock. And don’t be that person who is always on their phone or tablet pretending to have stopped working. No means no and you owe it to your family and friends to leave work at the office. Especially when that office is your home office