"2020, 60 percent of the UK workforce will be working independently. And in the next twelve months, nearly 70 percent of organizations are expected to hire more contingent workers," reported Alice Weightman in a Startup Grind post about a year ago.
40 percent of American workers will be freelancers by 2020," was the report from Quartz. Other reports are beginning to surface stating even higher numbers.
Are you the type of person who could really work from home? There are as many reasons to work online from home as there are people doing so. If you decide a freelancer life is for you, you may want to consider what this type of life really means, if you are cut out for it and most of all -- how will you accomplish what needs to be done?
Here's How To Master Working From Home
1. START EARLY & DO YOUR HARDEST TASK FIRST
Starting your day a few hours before the rest of the workforce is undoubtedly one of the best ways to accomplish more in your day. Just after you wake up, your mind is fresh and you’re not yet suffering from decision fatigue.
Focus in on your most challenging task and work on it first thing. You’ll be free from many daily distractions, allowing you to be more efficient, and you just might complete the task before most people get out of bed. The key to this adjustment is gradually moving your go-to-bed and wake-up times 15-30 minutes earlier over a week or two. Don’t try to make drastic changes too quickly or you’re certain to experience difficulty adjusting.
Those in specialized military training are told to merely say what time they will wake up -- before they go to bed -- believe it -- know it -- and don't set an alarm. You may want to try this on a weekend.
2. MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
In today’s digital world, there are an incredible number of gadgets, apps, and services aimed at increasing productivity. When left unchecked, those gadgets, apps, and services can easily become distractions in and of themselves, taking your focus away from the task at hand.
Here are some ways to minimize these distractions:
Use a handwritten to-do list.
While digital to-do lists and productivity apps can be very useful for certain tasks, the temptation to check out the Snapchat you just received is often hard to resist. Research has shown that writing things down, rather than typing them into a computer, allows for better conceptual understanding.
By tracking the items you need to accomplish using a list, you allow your brain to focus on the task in front of you rather than on thinking about all of your pending work.
I setup my daily priority sheet the evening prior. I write down my tasks, as well as any pertinent details, and prioritize each item. When I start my day, I work my way from top to bottom, focusing on the highest priority items first.
At the end of each workday, before creating the next day’s list, I review what I accomplished and grade myself on a scale of 1-10. I ask myself whether or not I was able to stick to my list and accomplish what needed to get done as well as what issues stopped me from being successful if I missed the mark.
This method highlights the day's successes and provides you a cue that it’s OK to switch into “non-work mode,” allowing you to leave the office physically and mentally. The to-do list holds you accountable for your work and tasks. It also functions as a surrogate boss, helping you become your own performance manager.
Turn off all notifications on your cell phone that are not essential.
You don’t need to know every time someone liked your photo on Instagram or replayed your Snapchat. Schedule yourself a few 5-minute breaks throughout the day to review your accounts for essential info. Other than that, put your cell phone in another room so you can break the habit of looking at it every time you have a few seconds.
For me, this almost always turns into watching 12 videos on Facebook and wasting of 20 minutes of life. Statista estimates that the average daily usage of social media worldwide is 118 minutes per day. That equates to almost 25 percent of the average workday. Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you used that time to focus on your work.
Create a no-fly zone.
Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you’re always available. This is especially challenging if you have young children at home or if your spouse or partner has an opposite work schedule and is home when you’re trying to work.
Create strict rules for when you’re available to speak with and when you’re not. Constant interruptions that “just take a second,” break your concentration, making it almost impossible to complete tasks. In fact, The New York Times found that cognitive abilities dropped as much as 20 percent in subjects who expected to be interrupted.
So don’t worry, it’s OK to shut the door and treat your home office like a traditional office at times. Just don’t fall into the mindset of feeling like you always have to work from 9-5. Part of being an entrepreneur is enjoying the flexibility that working from home allows.
With good self-discipline and established rules, you can take a morning off to go fishing or help a friend move in the middle of the day and still feel a sense of accomplishment.
3. CREATE A SEPARATE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
Working in your PJ’s while relaxing on the couch sipping lattes may be great for stock photos, but it’s hardly a representation of what working from home is really like. Many people find it difficult to handle the overwhelming amount of distractions working from home presents.
Ensuring you have some separation between your home environment and working environment is essential. Whether it’s converting your spare bedroom into a full-on office or sitting at a small desk in the basement, having a space that is dedicated to focusing on work is very important. If you’re sitting at the kitchen table, it’s easy to get distracted by the stack of dirty dishes that need to get done or the carpet that really needs to be vacuumed.
Eliminate these distractions and allow yourself to concentrate on the task at hand by giving yourself a dedicated workspace.
4. MINIMIZE AFTER-HOURS WORK TALK AT HOME
Creating a mental separation between “work time” and “home time” is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. When your environment doesn't change, it’s all too easy to stay in “work mode” when you should be putting your work down for the day. To combat this, establish and stick to a clear stop time, allowing yourself to transition into a non-work state of mind.
Force yourself to listen to other’s problems instead of using your time with them to talk through your own.
For many entrepreneurs, myself included, this is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. To help, share the below video with your spouse, significant other or roommate. In it, business mentor, Patrick Bet-David, highlights the positives and negatives that come along with dating an entrepreneur.
Though it may seem like a self-help video, Bet-David does a great job of discussing issues that really can take a toll on relationships in the long-run.
5. LEAVE THE HOUSE REGULARLY AND WORK FROM A CO-WORKING SPACE OR COFFEE SHOP ONCE A WEEK
Try to leave your house at least once a day to interact with real people. If possible, put yourself in a situation that allows someone else to make all the decisions, such as an instructor-lead fitness class. This will allow your brain to unwind and take a break from non-stop decision making.
Try to find a different work environment once a week to add more variety and stimulus into your work life as well. Many times, working from home can isolate and deprive you from human interaction completely.
Those who work in a more traditional office setting are forced to interact with others on a work and personal level every day, providing much needed human-to-human interaction.
6. CELEBRATE SMALL WINS
As an entrepreneur working from your own home, discipline and self-motivation are essential for success. However, being the boss and making every decision can be both physically and mentally draining.
Everyone needs positive reinforcement now and then to feel a sense of accomplishment. To help with this, set more frequent, smaller goals that you can achieve to help provide a much-needed boost to your morale and the motivation to keep up the hustle.
Celebrate those small successes as stepping stones on the way to achieving your ultimate goal.