February 8, 2016

5 Ways Freelance Writers Can Eliminate Noise Distractions

eliminate noise distraction home office

Even freelancers can't always work in the peace and quite of the beach.

You’ve finally realized your dream of working as a freelance writer – from home. You decorated and organized your office just the way you want. But there’s only one problem: noise.

The dog barks; the children chirp, laugh, and bicker; the email dings; the phone rings — the distractions just seem endless. Even if you live alone, environmental noise (or even lack thereof) can cause a loss in productivity.

So, what can freelance writers and journalists do to eliminate or, at least, mitigate the noise distractions that rob them of productivity and, thus, their success?

Reduce Noise Distractions with These 5 Tips

  1. Get the bulk of your work done – the work that requires uninterrupted attention – after the kids leave for school and before they return. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get bogged down with social media engagement and other administrative tasks during the day. Before you know it, the kids have returned and you still have to finish that story for a health and wellness magazine. You know the story – the one with a deadline about 45 minutes after the kids rush through the door.
  2. Put Fido and Garfield outside. If you have a yard, and you feel comfortable doing so, let your dog or cat out in your manicured jungle where they can frolic and do what domestic animals do outside.  If you don’t have a yard, or your pet is strictly an indoor companion, give the dog a new rawhide to chew on or some other quiet toy to occupy his brain while you toil away. Cats don’t usually need too much maintenance; although one of mine always feels the distinct need to literally walk on my keyboard while I work. She ignores me all other times. Solution: shut the office door or shut her in another (litter-box enabled) area.
  3. Turn off the television and get down to business. You tell yourself that the TV provides background noise while you work. It doesn’t. It distracts you; face it and turn it off. If you need ambient noise to work, create a motivating playlist of music. Notice I said “playlist” rather than radio. Radio stations can distract just as much as television with their ads about upcoming concerts and sports games. Just say no and turn it off. Even music distracts some people. If you’re one of those people and you really care about succeeding as a freelance journalist or writer, work in silence.
  4. What’s that noise? It’s your tummy rumbling, cowboy! Establish a set time for eating and breaks. Just as you would in a brick and mortar office, you should establish set times for eating and bathroom breaks. “But I wanted to work from home to get away from the regimented schedule of cubicle-land,” you lament over your latte. Maybe. But I doubt the regimented lunch and break schedule truly topped your list of reasons for breaking away from “the man”. Just go ahead and set up a schedule for snacking, eating, and potty breaks. You’re still the boss. You can do what you want, but having a schedule in place will help you focus when you’re up against some deadline you’ve been flouting.
  5. Eliminate the pull of chat pop-ups, email dings, and other software distractions while you’re writing or researching by using something like Freeverse for OSX or Dropcloth for Windows. I’ve used Freeverse and it works well to eliminate that pull to check email, address someone hailing you in a chat box, etc. Find a full list of distraction busting software at Lifehack.

Freelancers, working from home, often forget that office organization goes beyond what they can touch and feel and see – it reaches beyond the tangible. Creating an environment with minimal noise and other ambient distractions counts as an office organization activity as well.

Share your glitter: How do you keep your office space sacred, so that you can realize your freelance writing dreams – distraction free?


Image credit: depositphotos dot com

About Samantha Gluck

Not only am I the chief editor of this multi-author online magazine, I'm a content creator and social media marketing strategist with a background in journalism, finance, & healthcare. I began my content marketing agency, All Media Freelance, LLC, in 2010 and lead a well-rounded, talented team of multi-channel content strategists and niche writers. I've developed and managed print and digital content projects for health care, fitness, financial services, mental health, non-profit, and automotive publishers, as well as for biotechnology brands.


  1. Great tips all around, Samantha. It’s also sooo easy to just wander around the house or curl up on the bed or couch for a quick nap. So even if you’re working at home, it’s great to set up a completely separate workspace that’s separate from the rest of the house. If at all possible, avoid working in your bedroom! Even sitting on your bed/couch with a laptop is counterproductive if you have to hit a deadline.
    Andrew Kardon recently posted..Howdy!My Profile

    • Andrew,

      You’re so right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve curled up for a quick snooze that turned into an hour, when I first started! Now I stick to my schedule pretty closely, but it’s also nice to remember that I am the boss and can deviate from the routine, if necessary. Having a separate workspace is essential. Dragonslayer and I have a hard and fast rule about working in the bedroom — it’s simply not allowed. XO

  2. This post could not have come at a more perfect time as getting ready to write my monthly column for the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and I have my Twitter and email up. (A No-No) It’s way too easy to get distracted with those pop ups coming up. Best to turn it all off and really concentrate for a length of time. Thanks for the reminders Samantha. Break time is important too. I tend not to until I’m absolutely starving or see delicious food over on Pinterest or Stumble Upon. Guess I should check that Lifehack out!
    Lisa recently posted..Pinning, Posting, Tweeting, and SharingMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa! I’m excited to read your latest column in the RI Small Business Journal. Your last one was great! It’s far too tempting to check out an interesting tweet that pops by or an email you’ve been waiting for, when you really should continue writing. I say keep them closed when you’re working on time sensitive projects or on something that requires full attention. And take breaks! Please! Eat, go potty, call your own Dragonslayer — all these things are so important. Lifehack is a great place to get cool info about life and work. XO

  3. It all “sounds” so familiar! When I have a severe deadline – and when are deadlines not ”severe”? (”dead” in ”deadline” is not a coincidence) I wake up at 05.00 and try translate as much as I can, perhaps leaving out the easier parts/phrases..xo

    • It’s so true, Magda, and I love your little play on words here in this comment. You truly are a wordsmith! Waking up at 5:00 am represents a reality for many of us at certain times. Doing the harder bits early (when no one else is up to bother you) sounds like a great idea. Then you can tackle the easier parts when all the chaos begins. ;-)

  4. Nice post,. i really consider noise around me as something entertaining rather than something confusing to avoid it and make the best out of my time, because no matter what you did noise will keep there as long with thoughts distractions, but there is a practical solution for noise which is to wear ear pieces (cottons), that will give you peace of mind and will let you avoid noise distraction from the roots, wish this was helpful, thanks for reading my comment :)

    • I never thought of wearing ear plugs to keep the noise at bay. That’s a great idea and a wonderful addition to this post. Your comment was quite helpful and thank you for taking the time to stop by.

  5. My kingdom for a door and not just a doorway or arch, lol! A plague on these open-plan houses (shaking my fist)…
    Shakirah Dawud recently posted..The Attitude Cycle Of Your Sales Prospect Part 3: The Hopeful ReaderMy Profile

    • Shakirah, I’m in the same boat. Dragonslayer has promised to add beautiful French doors to my door-challenged office space this summer. I really need it. Kids coming in here — taking my supplies — doggie wanting some lovin’ — whatever! I have to get up and start work at 5 AM (like Magda said) when school’s out, so as to get some things done before the little angels arise. ;-)


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