Organizing Your Day as a Work-from-Home Freelancer

Working from home comes with a lot of perks—a flexible schedule, a personalized work environment, you can wear whatever you like, and there’s no annoying co-worker to deal with. If you’re a freelancer, you can imagine how working from home is an ideal setup for someone in your line of work. That said, it’s important to be purposeful with how you go about your day because it’s easy to get distracted and procrastinate the day away. Here are ways for you to achieve a work-from-home setup with intent and focus.

Create up to five goals

Making a to-do list for the day can be especially helpful, but instead of writing down all the tasks you need to complete, limit your list to just five main items. This makes your workload more manageable, and you get to feel a sense of accomplishment every time you cross off a task. If you can finish all five before the day ends, you can move on to other things with the confidence that you’ve already accomplished what you set out to do for the day.

Work on one task at a time

While multi-tasking is a skill requirement in many modern offices, focusing on one task at a time has been proven as the more effective way to go through your list of goals for the day. A study by the University of California on multi-tasking and work interruptions found that working on one thing at a time makes it easier to manage work-related frustration and stress. This is easier said than done, especially if you’ve gotten used to multi-tasking all the time, but the more you focus on one task, the faster you’ll get it done with quality, and that can only be good for your efficiency.

Develop a routine

Offices have work schedules for a reason—they exist to let employees know when they’re supposed to work. Setting a regular schedule can help you distinguish between work and play, and to do so successfully, you need to know what time you’ll wake up, as well as when to start and end work. This requires creating a solid routine for how you handle your daily tasks. Here is an example:

· 5:30 am: Wake up

· 6:00 – 7:00 am: Eat breakfast, get ready

· 7:00 – 11:00 am: Work

· 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Eat lunch, check emails and social media

· 2:00 – 6:00 pm: Work

· 6:00 – 7:00 pm: Dinner, check emails and social media

· 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Quality time with family and friends

· 10:30 pm: Bedtime

Though routines vary, the list above shows you what a typical freelancer workday looks like. Truth to tell, it doesn’t differ much from someone who works in an office, but it’s the best way you can stay focused on work and get us many tasks done during the day.

Turn off your social media

Social media is the scourge of many workplaces. Study upon study has shown how social media use can have detrimental effects on employee performance and the overall health of a business. While it does encourage interaction between peers, watching cat videos and scrolling through memes hardly qualifies as efficient use of time. If you want to complete any task, you need to turn off your social media. If you need to use it for anything other than work, set aside specific times to do so, such as during lunch or afternoon tea time.

Create a conducive work environment

While having a dedicated home office is ideal, this is often impossible for many freelancers. If you can relate with the latter, the second-best case scenario for you is to find or create your own space where you can spend a productive workday with minimal distractions. It can help to equip that space with a proper work desk where you have everything you need within reach. Make that space more conducive by ensuring that it’s comfortable, has little to no distractions, and poses no threat to your health (such as improper posture or eye strain due to glaring lights).

Dress for success

Working in your pajamas can be the most comfortable thing in the world. However, getting too comfortable is the enemy of productivity. When you don’t dress up for work, you lose the power to convince your subconscious when work ends, and home life begins. Whether you’re meeting a client or not, you need to look ready to face the world. There’s no need to wear a coat and tie, dress smart in a way that shows you respect yourself and your work.

Practice strict discipline

Social media is far from the only distraction you’ll face as a work-from-home freelancer. Every so often, you’ll find yourself making compromises with your schedule—household chores, neighbors, TV, personal needs—all of these can creep into your work if you don’t pay close attention. Making a plan and routine is the easy part—after that, you need to muster the inner strength required to stick to the schedule that you created for yourself. You have to practice utmost discipline with what you set out to do each day. No one else is going to manage you but you.

Hold yourself accountable

Speaking of managing yourself, staying on top of your work can be difficult if you don’t create accountability. A good manager supports and motivates employees. Since you’re playing the role of the manager and employee at the same time, you simply need to take measures to motivate yourself and provide the support system you need to get your work done. Schedule a time after each day to reflect on the work that you’ve accomplished. Were you able to stick to your schedule? What can you do to become more efficient the next day?

Savor your personal time

When you work flexible schedule hours, it can also be easy to fall into the trap of working all the time. When that happens, you could just as quickly burn yourself out without really noticing it. Spending so much time in the same place can undoubtedly take its toll on your productivity, not to mention affect your overall health. And with that, taking a break from work is just as important as staying productive or organized. Stick to the personal time you’ve set aside for yourself, with no exceptions. Use that time away from work to relax and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul for the next day.

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