Working from Home: A Freelancer's Guide

Work from Home Productivity Motivation Guide Tips

Hey Owlets,

For the last two years I've been lucky to call The Owlet my job - as long as I have a camera, laptop and internet connection I can work anywhere in the world. At times it has it's drawbacks, but as the rest of the world has suddenly been thrown a taste of freelance life (all be-it without the sending shouty emails about not being paid & wondering how you'll pay for the weekly shopping!), we suddenly have the upper hand because we're so used to having to work from home. However, I know there are a lot of people struggling and I'm getting daily messages from you asking for advice, so I thought it would be good to share a few tips about how I work from home so it can hopefully help you too.
Get Ready for Work

I get it, for years you've had to drag yourself out of bed and make yourself look like a civilised member of society at some ungodly hour of the morning and now you don't have to - but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Part of the reason that you're productive at work (other than your boss looking over your shoulder), is because you've gotten yourself in the mindset. When no one is going to see you there's a huge temptation to stay in pyjamas, but you'll most likely find that you don't feel right and can't focus - when you shower and put proper clothes on, you're mentally drawing a line under bed time and getting ready for work. I'm not saying you have to wear formal wear to sit in your house, but leggings and a comfy jumper is still enough to get yourself in work mode.

Work from Home Productivity Motivation Guide Tips

Put Away Distractions

When you're working from home you can almost hear Netflix and YouTube calling out across the internet, begging you to abandon work in favour of spending time with them. The problem is that sites like Netflix, YouTube and Facebook don't have a specific end point, so your brain struggles to shut off. There have been multiple studies conducted on the design of these sites; apps like Facebook and Twitter feature infinite scrolling, and not having a specific end-point is why it's so easy to get lost for hours on your phone. I'm telling you this because as soon as you know how these apps work, you will notice yourself doing it. The easiest way to take away distractions is to make them harder to access - if it's right there on your phone's home page you'll click it automatically. The extent you need to go to depends on your willpower - if you find it easy to focus then just put your social media apps into one folder on the second screen of your phone so they're not in plain view. If you struggle to stay focused more then try deleting the apps or setting your phone to lock you out of those apps during a certain time of day. If you find yourself opening those sites on your laptop then there are some great extensions for your web browser that block the site entirely and keep a record of how often you try to visit them. Once you're confronted with the truth, it makes those automatic actions more conscious so you can stop yourself.

Work from Home Productivity Motivation Guide Tips

Actually "go" to Work

It sounds odd, but actually moving rooms within your house will help you to focus. A lot of people swear by setting up a mini-office or some desk space so you have a dedicated work zone, but if I'm honest I don't always find this helps. I freely admit that I have a unfairly short attention span, and sitting in the same place on my own all day leads me to fidget, doodle, scroll on my phone or do just about anything other than work because I'll be bored and distracted within 20 minutes. If you're like me then rather than having a dedicated space to work, I would suggest having a couple of spaces that are work-appropriate. That way, when you get bored throughout the day or week, you can move to another workplace. I find that the novelty of new surroundings gives my motivation and creativity levels a boost so I feel more inspired to write.

Work from Home Productivity Motivation Guide Tips

Make a to-do List

This might be more appropriate for people who are freelance than those who are used to working in an office with set tasks, but I find that making a to-do list really helps. I make lists for just about everything, and work is no exception. Getting everything down on a piece of paper helps me to clear my mind so I can focus on one task at a time without thinking about what I need to do next. It also helps because I feel like I've achieved more when I'm able to tick something off a list, and it holds me accountable for everything I have to do.

Take Breaks

I know that so far I've only talked about how to get and stay focused, but in order to be productive you need to take breaks. If you're used to having breaks at a certain time in the office then stick to those, otherwise give yourself a set amount of time out each day and take a break when you feel like you need it. Just make sure that when you give yourself a break you stick to it, rather than thinking "I'll just have 5 more minutes" because if you keep doing that it'll be harder to go back to work. Another thing to mention is that when you do take a break, try to take some time away from screens and absolutely stay off of social media, because if you spend your whole break mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, the time is going to pass a lot faster and you won't feel nearly as refreshed.

Work from Home Productivity Motivation Guide Tips

Be Kind to Yourself

I could give you pages of advice on how to work from home, but if you don't follow this one then you'll struggle to do anything else. Working from home is a totally different environment and it is difficult. You're going to have days where you've slept badly and you're really struggling - when you're in an office you feel like you have to work even though you'll probably make mistakes and have to redo it the next day. If you have a day where you feel like you really can't do it, then don't force yourself. Try to work for an hour and if you're getting nowhere then it's not your day and you're wasting your time. If you're able to choose your hours then take some time to relax, have a hot shower, do a face mask, paint your nails or get on with some personal admin. Focusing on yourself both de-stresses you and takes your attention away from work, meaning that when you go back to it you'll be going back with a clearer mind and fresh eyes.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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