Often, freelancers don’t work from company offices or headquarters. Many freelancers struggle to remain on task without the traditional workplace surroundings. If you’re a freelancer who has trouble sitting still and getting work done, then read on — your problem is common and has many solutions.

Balance Work and Distractions

Usually, the biggest adjustment for new freelancers is not having direct managers assigning them tasks and holding them accountable for their performance. Staying focused is a little easier when incomplete projects and lacking efforts have consequences.

Just because you don’t have direct managers doesn’t mean your performance isn’t being scrutinized. As a freelancer, your customer is the boss. The way you deliver your product or service to your customer makes or breaks your business, so you need to be on point.

Distractions abound in the home office. You may be inclined to work in a quick jog in the middle of the day or take an extended lunch with friends. The trick is to make up the missing hours earlier in the morning or later at night so you don’t actually miss anything or let your workload pile up.

Nail Down Your Best Practices Early On

Falling into routines is human nature. The faster you can define your optimal workflow, the more comfortable you’ll feel in the freelance lifestyle.

New freelancers, in particular, find that getting caught up in trying to define who they are as business owners and how they can most efficiently fill their days is easy. The people I see wrestling with running their own freelance companies get caught up in this debilitating internal struggle over their best practices.

Stop overthinking it. Just jump in to figure out what works through trial and error.

Optimize Your Performance

Here are a few additional tips to help you be more productive as a freelancer:

  1. Determine where you work best. When it comes to your work location, try different things. Work from your home office in the mornings and your back deck in the afternoons. Take your laptop to the library one day and to a coffee shop the next. Work on the rooftop, in the basement, on your couch, or at the park. Freelancing is all about finding your work sweet spot — that place that allows you to focus on getting the job done according to your personal preferences. The only way to know where you work best is to try out different places.
  1. Set your own deadlines. Let’s say a client needs a project completed by Friday afternoon. Set your own deadline to finish the work by Thursday morning. Your client will be blown away by your work ethic, particularly if you deliver high-quality results on top of early completion.
  2. Get some “you” time. You didn’t join the “freelance nation” to overwork yourself and hate your job. Work in plenty of breaks, and don’t forget that you have friends and family members. Clearing your schedule and leaving your home office for a couple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon can make you a work machine come Thursday morning.
  3. Take on new projects. Don’t be afraid to test yourself with new challenges, especially if you’re providing a service. Taking on projects that are a little outside your comfort zone can sharpen your skills and help you refocus if you’ve hit a productivity rough patch.

Freelancing is about doing what feels right to you. Work from where you want, when you want, and how you want. Just be sure to get the job done. Don’t forget why you left the corporate grind in the first place: to work for yourself.


Melissa Cooper

Melissa Cooper

J. Melissa Cooper is an expert in the human resources field, with over a decade of experience and a Masters of Science in Human Resource Management from New York University, as well as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She started her own business as a one-woman shop in 2009. Five years later she was managing 400 freelancers.

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