Greater than 2 minutes, my friend!
Is it just me or one of the hardest aspects of working as a freelancer is to keep yourself focused and motivated? Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but in the beginning of my freelance career I would often find myself struggling to resist how cute my animals are, the pile of dishes that I had been neglecting for a while, or just everything else that seemed to catch my attention and make me think, “I can’t finish this project until I have cuddled with my animals!”
After a few long nights catching up on work that was affected by my procrastination, I decided I needed to find tools that would help me concentrate and block those distractions.
Of course everyone is different, and what works for me might not work for you, but below is a short list of things that I found helps me concentrate:
- Use Your Nights to Prep for the Next Day
This seems like an obvious “tip”, but it really can make a difference during your work hours. Remember those dishes calling your name? Gone last night. Need to figure out what to eat for breakfast or lunch? Done the night before. Again, as obvious as this may seem, I can’t count how many times I looked over the sink and thought, “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, and then found myself spending 1 to 2 hours a day cleaning up after the day before while cutting into time that I could’ve been using in a productive way. Use the famous “2-minute rule”, in which the basic concept is that if something only takes you 2 minutes to do, then do it. It’ll save you a considerable amount of time later.
Again, seems like an obvious “tip”, right? But it’s very important that you don’t feel like you have to do EVERYTHING today. Not everything is due immediately. Sit down in the beginning of your day and write down all of the things that you actually have to accomplish that day. Be realistic and don’t overshoot it. I personally think that it’s better to under-estimate how much you’ll be able to get done in a day, and then surprise yourself with the amount of time that you have left to accomplish the “not-so-urgent” tasks, than to rush past your tasks in order to accomplish all the things you wrote down. Prioritizing and making a plan for your day will not only help you accomplish the things you want to accomplish, but will also help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and lost.
- Leave the House
Sometimes there’s just no other option. Freelancers are known to work in coffee shops and in co-working spaces, and there are many reasons for that, one of them being productivity. Being away from all distractions with only your computer/work in front of you, at the same time as you’re surrounded by other people who are probably doing the same thing, really helps. Plus, you get to network with a bunch of different freelancers who may or may not want to collaborate with you 😉
And as the renowned French to English Translator and author Corinne McKay once said on Twitter, “The best anti-procrastination tool? Doing work that you find interesting and meaningful.”
At some point you have to ask yourself, “Am I a distracted person, or am I just not passionate about what I do?”
What about you? What helps you concentrate and block out distractions?
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*Article originally posted in Life in Translation