While working from home does give you more freedom than in an office, many freelance logo designers find that working from home can make it harder to focus.
According to the Freelancers Union, there are 53 million people doing freelance work in the US.
That is 34 percent of the whole workforce.
With their rapid growth, freelancers have a big impact on the economy.
The majority of freelancers work from home.
This article will teach people who work from home how to stay focused.
The first step is jumping off the social media bandwagon.
Read on to learn more!
Stay away from social media
If you’re used to being on social media, it can be hard to quit at first.
Steve Corona, the self-proclaimed digital nomad did an experiment where he quit social media for 30 days.
The results were astounding.
Here’s what he had to say about the experience:
“Well, here I am, reporting that I’m still alive and the past month has been life changing – the most successful month of my existence.”
He said that while the first few days were full of withdrawal symptoms, (opening a new tab in chrome and typing in Facebook without thinking about it) the benefits were immediately apparent.
“With a free mind to wander and explore, I started to create things, to make moves, rather than suck down a never ending stream of information.”
He claims he wrote more words in those 30 days than he did in his entire life.
Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration so we’ll just take it to mean that he wrote a hell of a lot!
Writing so many words made him a better writer.
It encouraged him to meditate.
He was able to build stronger real-life friendships.
He forged a relationship.
He gained the motivation to compete in running events and even won trophies.
Imagine how much progress you would make designing logos if you were to cut out social media.
Steve says that moving forward, if he needs to go on social media, he will do so cautiously.
I recommend everyone to set a specific goal each time they use social media.
For example, “upload this finished logo design to my page.”
The key is to use social media productively by building your portfolio and responding to clients, not to get distracted by endless information.
Track how you spend time
There’s a really good application you can download for free to help you stay focused.
It’s called Rescue Time.
Rescue Time helps you see what you spend time on during the day so you can tweak your habits in order to be more productive.
It tracks the time you spend on different things in order to build up a picture of how your day was spent.
The reports it builds are pretty detailed so you can easily see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
Rescue Time is a paid application, however, there is a free version available that you can download.
The free version will still let you track time in websites and applications.
You can view the Rescue Time plans here.
I suggest you download the free version first.
If you want the additional features of the premium version, then you can download that.
Both versions are useful for the intended purpose, which is to track how you spend your time.
Work normal working hours
When working from home it’s a good idea to work normal hours, so either 08:00 – 16:00, (earlies) or 09:00 – 17:00 (lates) so that you get into the habit of working at the same time everyday.
Many people find that they are able to focus more easily when they start and finish working at the same times.
This is because they get used to it and therefore get better at managing their time within those hours.
Not only that, but it becomes easier to gauge how long a specific task will take.
If you don’t work set hours, you are more likely to procrastinate.
Procrastinating during the day can completely ruin your flow.
It takes a lot longer to get back into a task than you realise.
According to the Fast Company it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task, once interrupted.
It was also found that being interrupted and switching tasks causes significantly more stress than if you were not interrupted.
This stress can have negative impacts in other areas of your work, and may negatively affect the quality of your logo design.
Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, has this to say about switching context:
“I argue that when people are switching contexts every 10 and a half minutes they can’t possibly be thinking deeply. There’s no way people can achieve flow. When I write a research article, it takes me a couple of hours before I can even begin to think creatively. If I was switching every 10 and a half minutes, there’s just no way I’d be able to think deeply about what I’m doing. This is really bad for innovation. When you’re on the treadmill like this, it’s just not possible to achieve flow.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gloria works from home.
When asked how she protects productive time, she replied:
“I stay home. I do have to go into the university on some days but I try to schedule appointments so that I can stay home as much as I can, because that’s the only way I’m not going to be interrupted.”
Gloria gives the following advice to people who feel like they can’t keep up:
“Limit your web usage. Be disciplined. I am most productive if I limit web usage to twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. To be more realistic, it’s usually like four times a day that I can check e-mail. If I do that, I can be really productive.
Working regular hours doesn’t mean you are only allowed to take one 30 minute break through the day, however.
Taking proper breaks can be extremely good for your focus.
The rule of 52 and 17
The Draugiem Group did an experiment to see what their most productive employees did differently to everyone else.
They found that the 10% of employees with the highest productivity didn’t work more hours than everyone else.
What the productive employees did do, however, was take 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work.
This is what you call working smarter.
The productive employees treat their working periods as sprints.
When you’re working full on, you get a lot more done.
You don’t procrastinate.
You get into the flow of the task you’re doing and think at a deeper level.
Julia Gifford makes a good point:
The human brain wasn’t built to focus for eight hours at a time – the best way to refresh your attention is to take a break.
Remember, concentration is not infinite.
Breaks are essential for productivity.
Very few people can work for hours at a time.
So get your phone, set your alarm, and work for 52 minutes.
When these 52 minutes are up, relax for 17 minutes and repeat throughout your work day.
If you look in the settings area of your phone, you should have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option.
If you are constantly being distracted by friends and colleagues texting and emailing you this option can be extremely useful in helping you get more done.
Being able to ignore distractions will grant you more productivity.
It will help you keep you flow, rather than losing it to a phone call.
The Do Not Disturb option works by blocking calls and texts and then showing them to you once you turn it off.
In January 17, Copyblogger wrote an article about a writer who after years of being unproductive and getting nowhere, finally discovers the secret to achieving his dream.
In the story, the man decided in his late 20’s that he wanted to become a writer.
He went after all the writing advice he could find.
All his friends were “writers” just like him.
They all went to the literary parties at-least…
The man went to these parties, workshops, and read books by other writers in an effort to get better.
He did this for years., but he began to lose hope because he still hadn’t written anything of value.
Something was horribly wrong.
The writer, not so young now, turned 30.
In his mind, he had an inkling of what was going wrong.
He had a tough decision to make.
On a Thursday night, he heard the phone ring, as it did on every other night of the week.
This time however, the writer made a life-changing choice.
Rather than picking up the phone to talk to his “writer” friends, he stayed sat at his desk, facing a blank piece of paper.
When the morning came, the page was filled with 133 words.
While the man wasn’t happy he was only able to write 133 words, he felt the best he had in years.
After this breakthrough, the man didn’t answer the phone the next day either.
Or the next day.
Or the next.
He stayed in, completely focused, filling up pages with more and more words.
He kept going like that for another 42 years.
A few weeks before his death, the man was asked for the secret to a great career in writing.
The man held up his pen and said “If there’s a secret, it’s in here somewhere, swirling around in all that black ink. It spills down on the age and something happens, or it doesn’t, and you spill more and more of it to try to find your way.”
“What if I use a keyboard instead of a pen?” the reporter asked.
“Don’t get cute with me kid, same damn thing,” the writer said. “Slow and steady.”
This story shows how important it is to avoid distractions so you can focus.
If you’re working on a logo and you don’t know what to do, spend time with it.
Sooner or later, the answer will come to you.
The longer you spend with something, the more likely you are to be struck with inspiration.
Don’t let your lack of ideas in the present moment demotivate you.