As a freelancer, one of my biggest struggles is staying productive. When you work a 9-5, it’s easy to settle into work and stay focused- after all, everyone around you is doing the same thing. But when you work for yourself, it can be extremely difficult to stay on-task, particularly when your bed is calling you for a nap, or the TV is calling you for another episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Luckily, I’ve found some smart strategies that work for me and help keep me productive:
Clean up the clutter
I don’t know about you, but a messy house stresses me out when I’m on a deadline. Which is weird because I’m a pretty messy person every other time. But give me a big workload and I’ll immediately begin doing the dishes and washing some laundry. It turns out that there are scientific reasons why I do this.
Neuroscientists have found that people work better in organized environments. Physical clutter distracts us and overloads our senses. This impairs our ability to think creatively and makes us feel stressed. Spend some time looking at your workspace and decide what really needs to be there and what can go. Each month, set aside time to sort, clean, and discard the things you don’t need.
Choose a smart space
Working from the couch (or worse, from bed) is not a good idea. When there’s a crossover between the spaces where you work and the spaces where you relax, your brain will naturally get confused. If you have a spare room at home, set up a dedicated office. That way, you’ll immediately switch into work mode whenever you sit down in your desk chair. If you don’t have room for an office, at least try to find a dedicated space for a desk and a comfortable chair.
I also like to work in coffee shops or coworking spaces. There are also a number of business spaces available like www.pallmallestates.co.uk.
Set yourself up for success
There’s a reason why it’s sometimes impossible to find the control and willpower to keep going and push through those hard or annoying tasks. We’re all lazy. But it’s not our fault. Our brains are all about conserving energy and subconsciously make decisions based on how easy or hard a task is. When you’re aiming to create a productive work environment, make it easier to do the things you should do, and harder to do the things you shouldn’t. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, put your phone in a drawer and lock it so you have to jump through hoops to get to it.
And when you know you have an important task to do the next day, close all of your other tabs in your browser and leave the most important task loaded and ready to go.