Whether you’re working from home or going to another location like your favorite coffee shop, you’re bound to run into a number of distractions. When you get distracted, that interrupts your workflow and makes it more challenging to complete a project.
If you follow these 7 tips though, you’ll be able to successfully prevent distractions from interfering with your work.
1. Build a Productive Work Environment
If you want to avoid distractions, the first place to start is by making your workplace more compatible to the freelancer lifestyle. For example, do you think you’ll be more distracted in a quiet spare bedroom or in the living room with the TV blasting? I think we could all agree that the room where you can be left alone and is free from background noise like the TV or family members/roommates is a give-in.
After you find your Fortress of Solitude, there are a couple of other modifications that you could make in your workspace to become even more productive.
- Exposure to natural light. Researchers have found that workers who are exposed to natural light are more productive than those who are sit under artificial lighting all day thanks to circadian rhythms. If you can’t set up shop outside, at least try to find a location where there’s a window.
- Set the correct temperature. Research from Cornell University discovered that when offices raised the temperature to 77 degrees “typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent”
- Paint the walls the right color. Numerous studies have found that workers have a difficult time concentrating when the office is painted with bold and saturated colors, such as sapphire blue. However, going all white is also a bad idea. The ideal workplace color should be “neutrals and softer, more grayed hues.”
- Bring-in some plants. It’s been found that plants have the ability to reduce stress and prevent fatigue.
- Keep your workspace clean. What happens when you have a cluttered and disorganized workplace? You waste time looking for the materials that you need or just get lost shuffling through the mess around your work area.
2. Use Software and Apps
Since there’s no shortage of software and apps that can help get rid of distractions, why not make the most of the them. You can begin by using time tracking tools to keep you focused, along with concentration apps like SelfControl, Anti-Social, RescueTime, and Focus Booster.
3. Make a Set of Rules
This is one of the most important tasks that freelancers must learn how to master if they want to be free of distractions. Without a set of rules you’re giving the flexibility of your schedule permission to interfere with completing a project.
For example, you need to set working hours and stick to them – no matter what. If you’re blocking out between 9am and noon to write, then that’s when you’re working and not responding to emails, browsing Facebook, or going to breakfast with your best friend. You can work on these chores and socialize during the hours that you scheduled as downtime.
4. Create Batch Processing
In tech lingo, this is “processing transactions in a group or batch.” Freelancers can take this idea and apply it to avoiding distractions by either automating tasks and scheduling certain tasks. For example, you could check your emails, direct messages, social media updates, or voicemails everyday at 8:30am and 4pm. This way, you’re not frantically answering your phone every time you get a notification.
And, if you don’t have the discipline to do so, you may have to use an app like Anti-Social, turn off email notifications, or place your phone in Airplane Mode.
Additionally, if you’re in a field that involves uploading and tagging files onto several websites throughout the day, you may want to that in bulk instead of interrupting your workflow.
5. Put on a Pair of Headphones
Music has been found to increase productivity. But, putting on a pair of headphones and listening to your favorite tunes is another great way to block out ambient noise like your roommates talking or the construction taking place on your street. Keep in mind though that those ads from streaming service like Spotify can become a nuisance. Either pay for uninterrupted service or use music that you already own on your device.
An additional perk of putting on headphones is that this can actually prevent people from bother you when you’re working since they think that they can’t hear and you’re busy – even if you aren’t listening to any music.
6. Prioritize Tasks
Unlike most 9-to-5ers, freelancers have to juggle multiple tasks for various clients. The problem is that if you can’t manage this work, it hangs over your head and become a major distraction. That’s why you need to prioritize tasks.
Let’s say that you just snagged a high-paying project that doesn’t have a firm deadline, on top of the series of smaller projects that are due within the next week. Are you going to brush aside the smaller projects because you’re looking forward to that juicy paycheck?
You may want to knock out the projects with a deadline so that they’re not weighing over. If you have the time during the day, you could actually work on both projects at the same time.
7. Learn How to Handle Distractions
Even if you’ve managed to avoid as many distractions as possible, there will still be moments when you’re going to get interrupted. In these cases, you need to learn how to manage the distractions that have popped up.
For example, if your roommate starts talking up a storm, politely inform them you’re currently bust and you’ll talk to them when you take your break. If someone has a question or concern, jot it down and inform the person that you’ll resolve the problem later.
If there’s an emergency that does take you away from work, make sure that note where you left off so that when you do get back to the project you know where you left off.