I'm about to start my 10th year as a freelancer. Although it's been a very challenging experience at times, it's also been pretty fulfiling.
Every time I move cities, countries, and houses, I think that my newest set-up is the best one so far. But let's be honest, my dream workspace would be a secluded cabin in the countryside, far from any dishwasher that needs unloading or closet that needs decluttering.
I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator and can work from anywhere when a deadline looms in. As for daily tasks, I've found a number of tricks that have helped me stay focused over the years.
1. Create a space you'll want to work in
Give yourself one hour to declutter your workspace and make it comfortable.
For me, that meant putting a cushy faux sheepskin on my beautiful but uncomfortable chair, increasing the height of my monitor, and moving my desk from the living room to the bedroom.
Working from your bedroom seems like a big no-no but it turned out to be the best decision so far. I get up in the morning, tidy the house, go for a walk and come back to have breakfast with Octave once he's up. Then I head to the bedroom and start working.
Having a room of my own helps me stay focused, avoid distractions (does the dishwasher needs unloading?) and interruptions (Octave has to pass through the living room/kitchen/my office to go anywhere from his office).
I can close the door and get in the zone more easily.
At the end of my workday, I shut down my computer, and switch off the extension cord so no sneaky status light may disturb my sleep.
I created a charging station in the living room, where my devices remain during the night.
It did not all happen in one day, and it's always going to be a work in progress but my office corner is now a space that I enjoy spending time in again.
2. Get the right tools
I switched to Apple laptops years ago and haven't gone back even though it doesn't seem to be the standard for my line of work. I plug my laptop into a monitor when I'm at home and use various desktops for various tools.
As for productivity tools, here are the ones I cannot live without.
So spend out and upgrade your tools. Your accountant will agree with me, you need to deduct a couple business expenses anyways.
And don't forget to backup your data!
3. Avoid distractions
Let's not kid ourselves, we do not need to be available at all times. We're not that indispensable! So turn off your notifications, close your messaging apps and only check them at set and regular intervals.
4. Manage your time
I'm the worst at staying still for long chunks of time. For a while, I used the Be Focused Timing App. It helped me figure out how long I spent on a particular task and "forced" me to stay focused for the allocated time.
I don't use it anymore since it stresses me a little, but it was definitely an interesting experiment. And I might use it in the future if I ever start billing jobs by the hour.
I recently saw someone with ADHD recommend a visual timer and I am intrigued!
I highly encourage you to track your time for at least a day, to identify the times when you're the most productive and work your schedule around that (if your job allows it). I'm definitely the most productive in the first half of the morning and the second half of the afternoon.
5. Get in the zone
I'm now gonna share with you my most precious secret. It's Spotify's "Deep Focus" Playlist. It seriously helps me focus so much. It's instrumental (I work with words, so no lyrics is the way to go for me). It's not the kind of music I would listen to ever, so it's the perfect background music for me to get in the zone. It only works if I listen to it with earplugs on, otherwise, I get too distracted by noises around the house.
What's your secret to remaining focused?