One of the challenges most flex workers run into is how to stay focused and productive when working from home. Chores, pets, the television and errands - they can all pull you away from the tasks that really need to get accomplished. It is possible to stay on track with these tips and tricks we’ve mastered through trial and error.
1) Get Out If there’s too many distractions at home - then get out and go work somewhere else. Find a coffee shop, restaurant, public library or another space that you can work from without staring at the pile of laundry that needs to be folded or that renovation project that you’d like to finish. You might also find that the background noise from the other patrons helps you to stay engaged versus the silence and monotony that can set in working from home.
2) Create a Soundtrack Find tunes that help you to stay focused and productive. I learned that I couldn’t play anything that I was tempted to sing along to because I would quickly forget what I was working on to jam out instead. I’ve settled on playing jazz while I work. As soon as the music comes on it triggers in my brain that it’s time to buckle down and get started.
3) Make a List Make a List of everything that needs to get done. Physically write it down on paper. You’ll find that as you go through the thinking process of physically writing it down it will be easier to remember what all of your tasks are and any intermediate tasks that need to take place in order to accomplish the big ones. There’s also a unique satisfaction that comes with being able to literally cross things off.
4) Create Deadlines Set deadlines for all of your tasks. I like to break it down to deadlines within the projects themselves. It can be easy to get lost in projects when you are self managing and juggling multiple clients. You don’t have anyone to report to daily and the processes tend to be less stringent than in the corporate world. Suddenly you’re staring down a due date for a project and you realize you should have dedicated more time to it. By creating internal deadlines you are better able to keep track of the scope of a project and let a client know ahead of time if you’ll need more time rather than springing it on them the day before it is due.
5) Network One of the things that you lose when you step away from working in an office is having a network to bounce ideas off of and go to for help when you need it. You need to create that same network outside the office now. Find fellow flex workers in other fields and make connections. If they are local organize a weekly coffee date where you can all discuss projects and get insight as needed. The marketing maven might be able to assist you on branding for the app you’re developing. The author can proofread for the virtual assistant. The possibilities are endless as is the need for connections.
Working from home comes with it’s own unique set of challenges and intricacies to work out. While there is initially a learning curve to productivity there’s also great freedom in being paid to work from your favorite breakfast spot while someone refills your coffee for you and you soak up the morning sun.