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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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