Leaving a highly structured workplace for the home office can be a huge relief and quite exciting. Freelancing has become increasingly popular in all domains.
Creative individuals are finding ways to contribute in the comfort of wherever they want to be. As your office becomes your couch, productivity can get harder to maintain. When Netflix is a click of a button away, it’s hard to ignore. Here are some tips for maintaining a standard of productivity in your freelance pursuits:
- Change Locations
Sometimes you just have to leave the home office and change locations. The appeal of freelancing is that you can work from wherever, not just your couch. Many freelancers find themselves stuck in a house bound routine where the only location change is from the kitchen table to the couch. You can go to a local café or coffee shop; these places tend to offer Wi-Fi. If you don’t need Wi-Fi for your current task, head down to the beach or park and get some sun while you write.
Getting out of the house provides a refreshing change of scenery that will certainly generate productivity. Looking at the same walls of your house can provide an overwhelming distraction from your tasks at hand. Being in persistent comfort may create a sense of fatigue and laziness provided by the sounds and smells of your familiar surroundings. Comfort means relaxation, and relaxation often means a lack of productivity.
A new location forces you out of the comfort zone of your home and into a setting of less immediate security. This lack of easy comfort will force you to concentrate on your projects. A new location also offers a breath of fresh air. Being around other people, particularly productive people, creates a contagious spark of energy. Sometimes the best way to be productive is to put yourself in a place where it would be odd to not be productive. You can’t kick back in your underwear and watch Game of Thrones in a public setting, or at least I wouldn’t recommend trying.
- Sleep Cycle
Without the routine demands of getting to the office by 8 or 9, it’s easy to get caught up in a strange sleeping pattern. Many freelancers work well past midnight and into the early hours of the morning until they finally go to bed and wake up around mid-day or early afternoon. Although you may be able to function in this pattern, it is important to work your way back to a normal sleep cycle.
People who get enough sleep at the right times are the most healthy and successful. Going to bed at a decent hour and waking up before 10 A.M. offers a fresh perspective on your day. By waking up with the normal morning crowd, you are finding ways to be a part of the normal routines of society.
By sticking to a sleep cycle and work schedule, you force yourself to feel as though you are not completely removed from the flow of society. Sleeping through the morning and well into the afternoon can lead to a lack of motivation and energy. By seeing half of the daylight, your body naturally begins to adapt to a nighttime schedule. Being wide awake while everyone else is winding down can create a strange disconnect from people.
We’ve all heard the benefits of exercise and probably feel some sense of guilt for not doing it. For freelancers, exercise can be an incredibly beneficial way to organize your day and generate some energy. Exercise naturally increases endorphins and blood flow that results in mental stimulation and productivity.
This doesn’t have to be running five miles every morning. Just doing some basic jumping jacks every day to increase blood flow is valuable. Exercise is the key to cardiovascular health, which is directly related to stamina. An increased stamina allows you to work productively for longer periods of time.
Exercise is also a way of improving overall mental health. Increasing your heart rate daily helps to manage anxiety and depression. The release of serotonin helps you to feel more positive and capable of taking on your day. A solid sleep cycle is incredibly important for exercise. People who feel as though they have more time in their day tend to exercise more.
- Dress the Part
Along with getting out of the house, it’s important to feel good in the clothes you wear. They don’t say dress for success for nothing. A recent study by Northwestern University researchers found that certain clothing can highly influence a person’s psychological processes. Wearing formal business attire increases a sense of competency and self-confidence that directly translates to productivity. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel good about the work you’re doing.
I am certainly not suggesting you throw on a suit and go to your local coffee shop. I’m saying a collared shirt and some decent shoes (not flipflops) can create a better sense of purpose and self-respect. A collar alone does not equal increased work productivity. The improved mental state from the increased confidence will help work productivity.
- Music is Your Friend
Light background music can increase work productivity. This is especially true with tasks that are a bit mundane and repetitive. Subconsciously following and focusing on a melody can heighten your focus on tasks at hand. Most importantly, your favorite music can put you in a good mood. The aforementioned positive mental state will increase workflow and stamina.
The life of a freelancer can be void of consistent human contact. Naturally, my main advice would be to make sure you are seeing friends and family. However, as deadlines pile up and you need your space to work, music is an easy way to provide some company.
For the freelancer, music can be your friend through the day. Especially if you choose to work from home and away from people, hearing some voices in the background can decrease a sense of isolation that may cause depression and anxiety.
- Give Yourself a Break
The life of a freelancer can get very stressful very quickly. Freelancing often involves developing creative content on your own. You are not following strict guidelines that can train you into a mindless routine. These are not monotonous tasks that pass time. You have to think, reflect, and create. It is important to take frequent breaks in between the mental stimulation.
It is completely inaccurate to assume the longer you stare at your computer the more you will get done. Research analyzed by writer Phyllis Korkki states, “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity – and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” Even if you’re spending extended periods of time in front of your computer and actually getting work done, this work tends to be less creative and lacking quality.
Freelance writing has many benefits, especially if you are a creative and self-motivated individual. The demands can be tough. The responsibility of quality performance is completely reliant on you. There is no team to blame. It is important to get yourself into healthy routines to improve your mental state and overall productivity.
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