As a freelancer, one of the hardest things for me to do is stay on task. When you work from home, your office is everywhere and distractions abound.
While it’s not always easy to stay on task — even when you’re working on a deadline — when you work from home, it’s important to find ways to focus.
If you’re struggling to stay on task, here are some tips to help you reclaim your time and be more productive:
1. Work During Peak Productivity
One of the best ways to stay on task when you work from home is to work during your peak productivity.
If you can mark off hours to get things done when your attention is less likely to be drawn off, you can get a lot more done in less time. It’s easier to stay on task when you aren’t already tired and worn down.
Pay attention to the patterns in your life. You can use your chronotype to get an idea of where you stand, and when your peak productivity might be.
Once you pinpoint your peak productivity, it’s time to schedule it in for work. I try to avoid scheduling interviews, answering email, or doing other mundane tasks during my peak productivity times. That way, I can devote myself to the most important items of work and I’m less likely to be distracted during that time.
2. Designate a Work Area
I’ll be honest. I’m writing this article from my bed. Normally, though, I don’t work from bed. Or from my couch. Too often, these areas are associated with relaxation and comfort.
They are associated with distractions as well. People coming in and out. Maybe there’s a TV on in the background. There’s a lot going on when you aren’t in a dedicated work area.
Most of the time, I try to work in my home office. I have a desk and a desktop computer in a separate room. Having that space for work helps me focus and recognize that I should be in “work mode.”
Even if you don’t have a whole room you can use as an office when you work from home, it’s possible to designate a work area. Find a place that you can feel comfortable working, and that you can associate with work. That way, you can get mentally prepared to be productive.
3. Take Breaks When You Need Them
The idea of taking a break to stay on task when you work from home probably seems weird. However, it can actually help. Instead of trying to power through something and continually being distracted by how you’re mentally fatigued, take a break.
In general, humans don’t do well trying to push through. I know that the longer I work without a break, the more likely I am to get distracted. If you need a break, take one.
Your break should be a true break. Go for a walk. Meditate. When you have lunch, leave your work area and eat in the kitchen. Less fatigue means a better resistance to distractions.
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