how freelancers can stay focused working from home

How you can stay focused if you work from home

Posted on 24th May 2019 by

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people who work from home rose 74% between 2008 and 2018.

Working from home is popular, not only with self-employed workers, but also with employees of companies who operate flexible working conditions, such as Caunce O’Hara do.

Sometimes, it can be important to get away from the office, and away from day-to-day distractions, to catch up with your admin, or to write content for company websites, brochures and newsletters.

Yet, working from home can have its distractions also, including; daytime TV, the postman, social media, and sunny weather to name but a few.

If you work from home on a regular or permanent basis it can become a lonely existence and you can be driven to some distractions in an effort to alleviate boredom… and even just to hear another person’s voice.

We look at a few ways you can stay focused on the job-at-hand when working from home while also preventing yourself from going stir-crazy.

freelancer procrastination

Ditch your PJ’s to get yourself into ‘work mode’


Ditch your PJ’s

The best way to start the day is to prepare yourself properly and that means getting dressed. Lounging around in your pyjama’s all day isn’t going to be conducive of a productive working day.

Making a point of getting dressed, as if you were going to the office to work every day, will help trigger your ‘I’m in work mode’ attitude and set you up mentally for the working day.

freelancer distracted by mobile phone

Put it down! Your mobile phone is a fantastic device, but if you don’t need it for your work you should put it away otherwise you could lose precious work time surfing your social channels.


Turn your phone off… or at least hide it in the next room

Your mobile phone is arguably the world’s most distractive device. If you don’t need your mobile for your work, then turn it off. This will help you forget about it and nullify the urge to browse your social media channels.

Remember the old saying ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

freelancer working from home in a designated workspace

Creating a designated workspace will help you focus on your work


Create a designated work area

Only a small percentage of work at home professionals will have a specific office, but that’s ok. You can create a designated work space anywhere in your home.

Most popular would be the dining table or kitchen table. Wherever you choose, ensure your work area is free from clutter and gives you enough room to work in comfortably.

freelancer work planner

Set out your work plan and stick to it.


Work to a pre-set work plan

Decide a day or two before what exactly you need to achieve in your working day… and stick to it. Working to a pre-set plan will help keep you focused on your tasks and help to create a sense of work pressure that everyone who works needs to help improve their performance and output and ensure they meet agreed deadlines.

working late

Burning the midnight oil isn’t always a good idea.


Don’t work too late

Working from home can be great for your freedom, but it can also mean you lose track of time and end up working late and skipping lunch. Whatever you do, look after yourself. Taking a break is just as important for keeping your focus when you work at home as it is working in an office.

If you don’t take regular breaks you risk making silly mistakes which can mean your work will take longer to complete because you have to correct the errors.

exercise for freelancers

Exercise can help to re-energise you and keep you focused all day.


Get out there and exercise

Sitting in front of a computer all day, or at a sewing machine or easel or even at a potter’s wheel, without a break, can have a wearing effect on you.

Fatigue, eye strain, repetitive strain and lack of concentration can creep in which will have an adverse effect on your productivity.

If you want to stay sharp all day, it’s a good idea to do some exercise.

As little as 20 minutes each day can be enough to re-energise you and keep your mind sharp and fully focused on your tasks and client commissions.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to start exercising. There are plenty of simple workout routines you can follow online. Alternatively, if you like the fresh air, put on some trainers and go for a short run.

If you’re not the active type and prefer exercise that is good for your mind as well as your body, you could try a yoga class. Drop-in yoga classes allow you to attend whenever you are available rather than being tied to a set course of 8-12 weeks. You will also meet like-minded people who may be attending the class for the same reasons as you.

Whichever exercise you choose, you will benefit both in terms of improved physical fitness and enhanced mental wellbeing. The knock-on effect will likely be an increase in your productivity.

No excuses. Just Do It!

avoid being distracted by your household chores

Avoid being distracted by your household chores.


Avoid personal distractions

Working at home can offer many comforts, but it can also deliver many distractions. As mentioned earlier, these can include daytime TV and household chores.

Other distractions that are part and parcel of the modern world include App Notifications. Where possible, it is probably a good idea to turn these off or schedule them not to work during your working hours.

Some freelance professionals go to extremes in their efforts to stay focused. One example mentioned on the BBC recently told of a freelancer removing the batteries from her doorbell.

The easiest method of avoiding distractions is to create that designated workspace we mentioned earlier and ringfence it from all activities and potential distractions that are not relevant to your work. Because as soon as you become distracted, it is very difficult to regain your focus.

freelancer working in a cafe

A change of scenery can help to keep you focused and prevent feeling isolated.


Try a change of scenery

“A change is as good as a rest” as the old saying goes.

If it is possible for you to work at a new venue, then it can be highly beneficial to do so, even if it is only for one or two days each week.

MIND Charity recently expressed its concerns over the mental wellbeing of the freelance ‘work at home’ community.

For some people, working at home can be a lonely existence and the feeling of isolation can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mental health.

Working in an environment where you can have contact with other self-employed freelance professionals can help you stay focused and also provide opportunities for new ideas.

Working elsewhere can also give you a feeling of something to look forward to.

The rise of co-working spaces across the UK provides relatively inexpensive opportunities for freelancers to work away from their homes and in the company of others. But there are more opportunities for a change of scenery that will cost you as little as a couple of cuppa’s.

Libraries provide ample desk space for quite working or you could find a comfy corner in your favourite café for a few hours. You could even go to your local park to work if the weather was nice enough.

Why not try a few of the options to see which you prefer?

Caunce O’Hara have been providing insurance protection for freelancers since 1995. If you would like a competitive quote for your freelance insurance, you can build your own online quote here.


Related Articles:

Top 10 challenges every freelancer faces – Part One

Key reasons why it is important for freelancers and the self-employed to be active networkers

5 tips for improving your fortunes as a freelancer in 2019


Author Phil Ainley, Marketing Manager

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