Fighting Distractions as a Freelance Writer

Photo of a woman concentrating on work with her laptop computer.

If you’re a freelance writer, you don’t have a boss peering over your shoulder or a strict schedule that you are obliged to adhere to. Instead, you’re planning out your own schedule and keeping yourself on track. As you probably already know, this can be a problematic task. The world is filled with distractions, and freelancers usually don’t have a dedicated office to keep those distractions at bay.

Distractions can come from anywhere and everywhere, and they can be either welcome or unwelcome. These are just a few of the distractions you might find yourself confronting from day to day:

  • Unwanted noise
  • Household chores
  • Family and friends
  • Texts and phone calls
  • Writer’s block

In addition to all of these all-too-common issues, there’s the most universal distraction of all: Procrastination. As a freelancer, you’re more vulnerable than most to the hazards of procrastination because you are probably using the internet on a routine basis. The temptation to ignore work so you can check your personal email, look at social media, or simply browse the internet can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have an immediate deadline providing you with incentive to work right that moment.

So, what is the solution? Fortunately, there are numerous ways that you can fight off distractions and stay on task during your workday. Here are some effective tips for keeping distractions from swamping you:

Turn off your phone.

Phones are a bit of a necessary evil. Most people can’t realistically go a full day without checking their phones. If you’re trying to get a project finished, however, your phone offers a number of potential distractions—incoming phone calls, text messages, apps, games, and even updates. Fortunately, there is a simple answer: Turn your phone off while you’re working. If you need to keep your phone on in case of emergency, turn volume up on the ringer, turn off all your alerts except for incoming calls, and put your phone on the other side of the room. Remember that you can still check your phone during breaks!

Finish your chores early.

Routine household chores such as doing the dishes, vacuuming the carpet, and taking out the garbage may be a drag, but they’ve got to be done. After all, your home may also be your office, and you want to make sure that your workplace stays clean and comfortable! To ensure that you aren’t tempted to spend your workday carrying out these necessary chores, it’s a good idea to get them done on the weekend or in the evening. The sooner you have your chores out of the way, the sooner you will be able to concentrate on getting your freelancing projects finished.

Make a schedule for yourself.

For freelancers, the importance of having a daily schedule for yourself can’t be overstated. If you aren’t accounting for how each hour of the day is spent, it’s going to be much more tempting to waste time and procrastinate. If you are only designating a certain part of the day for a specific project, on the other hand, you’ll have a reason to continue to work on it. Parceling your day out into different sections will also help to keep you from getting burned out by working on one project for too long. Don’t simply have a schedule in your head—writing it down, whether on paper or in a spreadsheet, will help it feel more real to you, and make it easier to follow it.

Block distracting sites.

If you’re a freelance writer, it’s probably unrealistic to avoid using the internet altogether. In addition to communicating with clients through email, you’ll probably need to use the internet to do research as you write. If you find that you’re spending too much time on certain sites—such as Reddit, Facebook, or news sites—you can set your browser to block them. While you’ll need to unblock them after your workday is over, the simple act of forcing yourself to do this can make you more diligent about purposefully avoiding spending your workday on these sites.

Give yourself regular breaks.

If you’re going to live the freelancing life, it’s important that you’re not simply tied to a chair for eight hours a day. While it’s important to avoid distractions, you’ll be less likely to get distracted if you aren’t trying to force yourself to work nonstop all day long. Schedule regular breaks for yourself at least once an hour. If you are in the middle of an important task—such as an interview—during one of your break periods, be sure to take your break as soon as that task is done. In addition to providing you with some time to check your phone and think about things other than work, breaks will also help to keep you from straining your eyesight, which is a common issue for people who work long hours at their computers.

Try working in a new location.

If you’re feeling especially restless one day, it could simply be that you’re tired of working in the same place day after day. If that’s the case, the solution may be to pack up and move to a different location for the day. If that works, you may want to plan to work away from home one or two days a week. Many freelancers actually find that they feel more motivated to work when they are in a public place, whether that means a library, a coffee shop, or another location with free Wi-Fi. The low-level distractions provided by such places—such as background music or quiet conversations—can actually help some people focus and avoid major distractions. If you can find a place to work with other freelancers, that’s even better! After all, few people understand the importance of having a productive environment for writing better than other writers.

Distractions are just one of the many challenges you’ll face as a freelancer. Fortunately, Writers Work is here to help you face those challenges with confidence. We provide you with the tools you require to build your freelancing career from the ground up, so you can find the kind of clients that will help you get the kind of experience you need. If you want to get the extra advantage you need as you’re getting started with your freelancing career, be sure to visit our website today!

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