Deal with distractions as a freelancer

How to Deal with Distractions at Home as a Freelancer

Freelancing from your home is often a good idea. You work in a familiar surrounding, can take a break whenever you want, don’t have to deal with traffic to get to work. In fact, you can work in your pajamas (unless you have some strict dress rules in your home) and open a bottle of beer and no one will bat an eyelid to this. But for all that, if you choose to freelance from home, be ready to deal with some distractions at home from your kids, pets, phones, doorbells and other sources.

Tips to Deal with Distractions at Home

Tips to deal with distractions for freelancers

Fortunately, there are some good ways to deal with distractions at home as a freelancer, so here are a few:

  1. Turn your work area into an office

If you work from home, or telecommuting you might be tempted to work at a dinner table, from the couch (right in front of TV as well) or a number of other places around your house. But you shouldn’t. Because every time you sit a dinner table to work, you might get a sudden craving to grab a snack from the fridge (hey, it’s right there, so why not?), or if you site at a couch in your living room, the next thing you know, someone will sit next to you and turn on the TV. So say goodbye to your attempt at working on that project.

Pick a place in your house with the least foot traffic (that’s definitely not either the dinning room or the living room) and turn that room into your office. For most, including me, that’s your bedroom, but if you sleep in the same room with your spouse, it would be very hard to limit them access to the room they use as well. So, make sure it’s a room you can have enough privacy in while working.

  1. Set your work hours

Ah, now we’re potentially leaving that whole freelancing “work whenever you want” territory, right? Not necessarily. You see, you still don’t have to work 9 to 5, but having specific work hours will help you immensely. First, this will make sure that you establish a steady routine and become more disciplined. You’ll need to be quite disciplined if you want to work as a freelancer, trust me. No more last-minute and rush projects for you. Second, having set work hours also means that those living with you will know at what time of the day you are not to be disturbed (unless it’s an emergency like a fire in your house).

  1. Turn off your phone

As much as smartphones and smartwatches are a gift today, they can also be a distraction when you try to work on something and you keep getting bombarded with notifications from Facebook, messages and whatnot. Personally, I don’t even have Facebook on my phone, for this very reason. For other things, well, I try to keep myself disciplined enough not to jump to my phone whenever it beeps. If you just can’t keep yourself from checking your phone every five minutes, consider turning off its WiFi. Yes, you’ll be unavailable for a time, but it will help you keep focused on the task in front of you.

  1. Set your email-checking time

We humans seem to have become preconditioned to check our email every 5-10 minutes. We check our email first in the morning, while we brush our teeth in the bathroom, during meals, while we’re supposed to have a time with the family or friends… you see where I’m getting at with this? You need to stop acting like this, not just if you want to cope with distractions at home, but if you want to have a more fulfilling life in general.

Schedule your email-checking time instead. I usually check my email after I had a breakfast, right before I start to work and once more after lunch. That way I know if any of the clients want to talk about something regarding the project before I start working on it. Remember, communication is key when freelancing, so be sure to let your clients know at what time they can reach you as well.

  1. Fight the temptation!

What temptation you should be fighting? Any, really, that makes you get off your chair, browse the Internet or call someone while you’re supposed to be working. This is why you need to turn your work room into a temptation-free area. For example, I don’t have a TV in my room/office, my desk is clear of everything except for my laptop, second monitor, speakers, notebook and a bottle of water (always keep it handy).

  1. Set a browser just for work

Let’s face it, your Internet browser is probably full of potential distractions like plugins, apps, bookmarks, tabs you opened who-knows-when and so on. It can be very hard not to take a peek at your favorite website, check Facebook or go on YouTube to look at some of the channels you subscribed to. But if you keep your browser clean, you won’t be tempted to look at these things at all! This is why it’s a good idea to use a work-dedicated browser and install and bookmark only what’s really necessary for your work on it. Of course, this also means you should close your regular browser, as it is now just one big distraction.

  1. Take breaks

The longer you work, the less and less attention you can devote to what you are working on. Most people can focus completely on something for about half an hour before their mind starts wandering off. This is the time when you need to step away from your keyboard, get off the chair, leave your office and say hi to the folks living with you. Take a few minutes, see who called you in the meantime, make yourself some tea or coffee, grab a quick snack and then get back to work. One way to do this is to use the Pomodoro technique. Β It’s better to deal with things now then allow them to become a distraction later.

  1. Follow a schedule and set deadlines for projects

Finally, a very good way to cope with distractions at home while you’re trying to freelance is to set a clear schedule and a deadline for projects you are working on. For example, I use an app called Trello to set deadlines for different clients and their projects. Every time I start working with a new client and he sets a project for me, I create a card for him and set a deadline for his project, even if the client hasn’t done that himself. This just helps me keep a better eye on what project I should focus on more on a specific day.

  1. Put headphones on

Your kids are too noisy, the dog is barking, TV is blaring, neighbor won’t get off the doorbell? All these distractions are not allowing you to focus on your work? There’s a perfect solution for that. Put on a pair of headphones and play your favorite music to drown them all down.

  1. Install a distraction-free writing tool

For me as a writer, distraction-free writing apps are really helpful. For example, as I’m writing this post on WordPress, I have distraction-free mode (little square in the upper-right) turned on. This hides the draft menu on the left and everything else not related to the writing area itself. Or, if you’re not writing in WP, you can check a distraction-free program like FocusWriter, which works on Windows, Linux and Max and is free.

  1. Get out and join a coworking space

Of course, if you still find yourself unable to deal with distractions at home, you can always start working in a coworking space. People there will probably be more understanding not to interrupt you when they see you are hard at work on something.

Conclusion

Working from home has many benefits, but if you can’t focus on your work, it then becomes more a problem than an advantage. For many people, striking the balance between work and home becomes even harder when they bring their work home with them. Also, if people know that you are always home, they will usually think of you as someone who is always available and you’ll never get anything done because of all interruptions and distractions. But with by following these 11 tips above, you’ll be able to cope with distractions at home a lot better and get more work done.

What distracts you the most when you work at home? How do you deal with distractions at home as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below.

Vladimir Covic
covic.v1ad@gmail.com
32 Comments
  • Emily
    Posted at 21:26h, 13 July Reply

    Very useful tips! Thank you!

  • vinod verma
    Posted at 01:58h, 13 July Reply

    Being a freelancer, all tips are useful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nazrin
    Posted at 19:05h, 03 July Reply

    This is such a great post for me as I only have the time to blog when I am at home so really need as little distraction as possible!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

  • Echoesofhervoice
    Posted at 16:19h, 02 July Reply

    Great tips! This advice can apply to any setting really. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jenni Petrey
    Posted at 13:11h, 02 July Reply

    These are some really great tips. I don’t work from home but my husband does, think he should read these tips!

  • Christiana
    Posted at 21:36h, 01 July Reply

    Thanks for these great tips. I really need them. Seriously, I work from home and I have always had a problem with focusing strictly on my work and not having to check my phone every now and then.
    However, I am beginning to make effort and I will also make sure to apply these tips.

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 22:02h, 01 July Reply

      Thanks for the comment, glad I can help.

  • Miranda
    Posted at 20:42h, 01 July Reply

    #4 & 8 are so crucial! I use these tips for my blog and they work really well

  • Mercy (Zen Maud)
    Posted at 18:16h, 01 July Reply

    I really like the work dedicated browser idea. Bookmarks and tool bars can be very distracting when you want to focus on work.

  • Michelle Langi
    Posted at 18:08h, 01 July Reply

    These are such wonderful ideas for working from home and attaining productivity.

  • J
    Posted at 15:58h, 01 July Reply

    Love these ideas

  • Radhika Mundra
    Posted at 06:08h, 01 July Reply

    Gosh, I have so many distractions at home, and with my infant niece, it’s even more distracting. Thanks for these great tips!!

  • Pooja Sharma
    Posted at 04:12h, 01 July Reply

    I work from home and this really helps. I need to visualise my working space as an office

  • Akash Jayant
    Posted at 04:08h, 01 July Reply

    This really important article for the new freelancers.

  • Rikki Singh
    Posted at 04:05h, 01 July Reply

    Great Tips Sir….

  • jhilmil
    Posted at 02:57h, 01 July Reply

    They are all so true, sometimes I feel so distracted, either by mails or whats app or the environment.. A good workplace at home is must to build that aura to work peacefully!
    Good tips worth following!

  • Mica
    Posted at 22:06h, 30 June Reply

    These are such good tips! While I’m not a freelancer I do work from home one day a week and I’ve never tried the separate browser thing – I’ll have to give that a go to help me minimise distractions! πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 22:44h, 30 June Reply

      Yeah, minimize the temptation to check your FB status or to go watch cat videos on YT while you’re supposed to work.

  • Anmaria Djong
    Posted at 17:09h, 30 June Reply

    The list is wonderful tips for me as I get distracted easily. Its really not easy to fight for temptation to do other things and somehow, I lost my productivity after that. Thanks for sharing.

  • Abhinav
    Posted at 16:57h, 30 June Reply

    Point #5,7,9 are my fav. At times, social sites are the biggest distraction, so all I do is not even have them open when I am working. I have a specific time for those.

  • Lianne
    Posted at 15:56h, 30 June Reply

    You got a tip for a husband who won’t leave you alone? :’) Tried everything.

  • Ronit
    Posted at 15:41h, 30 June Reply

    Nice one

  • Richard Kraemer
    Posted at 14:13h, 30 June Reply

    All great tips, and stuff to think about as I’m constantly considering leaving the office environment for freelance work instead. Only thing I disagree with is no TV. I put my headphones on, and pop on a show and it becomes background noise to me just like music. If I need look away from the computer, as you mentioned, I just turn my head towards the screen. If I need absolute focus though, it gets paused of shut off while I work out my issues…

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 15:22h, 30 June Reply

      Well, I guess that can work. I can’t really concentrate on my work when the TV is on. Of course, I often don’t turn on the TV for days.

  • Michel Piedfort
    Posted at 12:34h, 30 June Reply

    If jou have children at home ask to not be disturbed between certain hours because mam or dad have to work

  • Ashwin Kumar C
    Posted at 12:01h, 30 June Reply

    A Very good post for students or bloggers!! Great!! πŸ™‚

  • Kelly
    Posted at 11:37h, 30 June Reply

    So helpful thank you!

  • Thomas
    Posted at 11:22h, 30 June Reply

    This are really great and useful tips! Most of distraction I get from my phone and noise so headphones are good idea πŸ™‚

  • Gidokblog
    Posted at 11:16h, 30 June Reply

    Taking a break is very important for a more substantial outcome.

  • Jessica S.C.
    Posted at 18:26h, 29 June Reply

    Awesome tips! I’m a freelancer and I’ll definetly use it (:

  • M
    Posted at 14:42h, 29 June Reply

    Some really useful tips! It is really hard especially if you have kids at home to focus.

  • Amanda
    Posted at 14:42h, 29 June Reply

    Great post! As an at home blogger, this post was very helpful to me. Excellent tips!

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