When you’re self-employed, you don’t usually have anyone dictating your work schedule. It’s up to you to draw up a to-do list and stick with it. After attempting such a work schedule for a few days, you probably realized that productivity doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
It’s easy to get caught up by social media, news reports, social engagements, and other distractions, especially if you work from home. This state of distraction can’t go on forever.
You won’t achieve your business goals or financial stability if you can’t make the most of every workday. If you’re struggling to stay productive, here are some tips for how to do better.
1. Block Out the Noise
Music and high-quality headphones can work wonders to help you stay focused. You won’t be able to hear other people talking or the noise of your neighborhood when you have music playing directly in your ears.
The beats will keep your mind busy, so it’s less likely to wander. In many cases, music can act as a psychological trigger to help you stay more productive from day to day. You can train your brain to crave work when it hears certain types of music.
Invest in wireless headphones for optimum productivity in your office. You won’t have to worry about removing them when you head to the copy machine, and you won’t get tangled up while you’re working at your desk. It’s easier to work stress-free when listening to music is effortless.
2. Set a Work Schedule
Working independently can be difficult because you may leave everything to the last minute if you’re not careful. No one likes being forced to work until 2 a.m. because he didn’t plan ahead.
Calculate the number of hours you have to work each day, and choose an uninterrupted block of time when you can best accomplish the labor. If you usually work six hours a day and perform best in the morning, you might set your schedule to work from 6 a.m. to noon.
If you work four hours a day and do best in the late morning/early afternoon, work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don’t let trivial things get in the way of this work schedule. Treat it as a real job for which there are penalties for showing up late or leaving early.
3. Stay Off the Internet
If your job doesn’t require an Internet connection, stay off the web. Turn your router off during your scheduled work hours. If you have to get online briefly for work, turn it on, do your task, and turn it off again.
If your job depends on Internet activity, block the sites that are most distracting. Using online software like Stay Focused or SelfControl, you can specify sites (Facebook, BuzzFeed, YouTube, news outlets, etc.) that are the biggest distractions and make it impossible for you to access them during a set time period.
You’ll be amazed by how much more focused you are when you can’t roam the Internet at will.
4. Meditate and Stay Refreshed
Burnout is all too common among self-employed professionals. Your job can feel like a chore that clashes head-on with your desire to engage in hobbies and other pleasures. It takes great effort and concentration to stick to work, and you might find yourself burning out.
Rather than give in to the desire to give up, find a way to refresh your mind. Many professionals choose to meditate each day via yoga, breathing exercises, or mindfulness training. You might take a walk or schedule short, frequent breaks to do something you enjoy.
It’s also worthwhile to take vacations and not overwork yourself each week. Try to give yourself a day or two in the week that’s for you rather than working 24/7. These refreshers will provide motivation to accomplish your to-do list.
5. Slow Down
Most self-employed workers are paid by the project or another pay model other than “by the hour.” For that reason, it’s tempting to work as quickly as possible, and push all your mental limits as well as multi-task.
But that might be what’s hurting your motivation most. Throw out unrealistic expectations that compel you to work faster.
Instead, focus on doing the best quality work you can within a given time frame. Don’t cram too much into one working period. The work will be more enjoyable, and you may find yourself accomplishing much more as a result.
By: Anna Johanson
Anna is the founder and CEO of Johansson Consulting where she works with businesses to create marketing and PR campaigns.