Today’s post is written by Legiit Director Of Operations Djordje Jovanovic. In addition to being a senior member of the management team at Legiit Djordje has personally managed over 4 million dollars in freelance service orders since 2017 for our CEO as well as himself. Visit Djordje’s Legiit profile here.
Focusing on intellectual or creative work the way we, as Freelancers do, is often as tiring as the work itself. Compared to the jobs of tradesman, skilled laborers and others, we don’t see our progress manifest itself before us as they do, which is a crucial drive in motivation and being focused.
As tasks pile up, morale takes a hit and a feeling of being overwhelmed settles in, it is important to step back, take a break, and get back to work with a clear head. But, how do you stay focused and prevent yourself from getting derailed?
Here are some tips that have changed me from not being able to stay focused for an hour, to being focused for my entire workday.
1. As is a general rule in life to enjoying it more, get out of your comfort zones.
Working from home has its advantages, but it’s too familiar, there’s always a distraction, whether is the people you live with, a new episode of a TV show you’re watching, or your pet distracting you.
“Focus” is fragile. All it takes is a small distraction or annoyance, and you lose your train of thought, you forget what you have to do, and it negatively contributes to your daily productivity. Getting out of your home puts you in a different mindset.
You are going to a place dedicated to working and you’re looking forward to getting the job done so you can get back to your comfort zone.
A comfort zone is for being comfortable, not for working.
2. Habits are difficult to form and easy to break.
Just as brushing your teeth every morning is a habit that would feel weird skipping, so would skipping work if it got “into your blood”. Dedicate the same time window for work every day and stick to it.
It will help you organize your work, and more importantly, your life. Classical Conditioning is a psychological trick where the mind associates a physical object or action with an emotion. Personally, I use this trick to my advantage.
Every time I sit down to work, I drink a cup of coffee whose brand I don’t drink anywhere else. In time, my mind has associated that cup of coffee with working.
I literally get energized and put into mood to work.
3. Stop distractions when they take root.
You can’t prevent every single distraction in life, but most of them you can.
Always have water with you, water will satiate you, so you don’t get an urge to snack, and of course, has many major health benefits. Never work hungry.
Just as people working physically demanding jobs need energy, so do people working mental jobs. Turn off your phone and unnecessary social media.
Losing focus and getting restless is rarely a result of a single decision or event. Don’t delay doing something you need to do, like have a bathroom break, for “just one more task”. It’s never one more task, and by the time you get to it, your body will get nervous, making you nervous, and that can lead to mistakes, and a major loss in daily productivity.
4. Always get enough sleep.
No matter how much coffee you intake, that subtle feeling of drowsiness never really goes away. When we are working on mentally demanding tasks, our brains need their time off, just as we do.
Preferably go to bed at the same time every night so you don’t get awaken by an alarm clock. Let’s be real, nobody likes to be awakened by an alarm clock. While it’s impossible to catch up on our sleep, or sleep more to have it in the bank, taking a day for sleeping in, and getting well rested is important, and energizing, just don’t make it a habit.
5. Good equipment is a must.
Invest in equipment before anything else. Depending on what your expertise is, this may vary, but everyone needs a PC capable of booting and opening applications fast, and handling 50 Chrome tabs open without stutters or freezes.
The same thing goes for your internet. Having your PC stutter and freeze is an annoyance, will ruin your productivity, waste your time and put you in a bad mood.
Get a good comfortable chair that supports your back, but not too comfortable so that you can literally lay in it. There are millions of articles on how to properly sit.
Take time to read through a couple and make an effort to sit properly. It will save your back on the long run, but in shorter terms, make you less annoyed daily.
Get a large table to work on. I work on 80″x80″ table with only my PC peripherals on it. I have enough arm and leg room, I never feel cramped, and always comfortable.
Get two monitors, you’ll never go back to one. They’re a massive productivity boost.
6. Do it right, or do it twice.
Tasks rarely require days to get done, so, commit to a task you need done, and don’t switch to another unless necessary.
“Measure twice, cut once.”, meaning double check your work for errors, and get it done properly. If you don’t, you’ll need to come back to it, which will cause you a morale drop and an unnecessary waste of time.
Write everything down, or you’ll forget it. It’s always good to have a “paper trail” of what you’ve done, are doing, and what you need to get done. If it’s not written down somewhere, it’s likely you’ll forget it.
Have a work folder and make effort to name your files and folder properly. Don’t name your files “beef stroganoff” because you’re hungry, name them related to their content. “Customer Info For Order #LE123456789” or “Work Plan for May”.
Bookmarks are a powerful tool. When you have a lot to a lot of orders to check for updates, they’re an easy way to open all of them at once.
7. “Work hard, play hard”
This expression is often taken negatively due to corporations abusing the phrase, but in essence, it’s still a useful pointer. When you sit down to work, take time for breaks, meals, stretches, but don’t indulge yourself with “just one” episode of a TV show, “just one hour” of a video game, “just one” Youtube video, or similar. It’s never “just one”, as people love their hobbies and things that they enjoy and will gladly give into them.
You’ll break your productivity streak, lose focus on your objectives and fall behind on tasks.
Alternatively, don’t mix work into your free time and personal life. It’s a slippery slope, and before you know it, your loved ones will get angry with you, you’ll lose boundaries and ruin your routines and habits, and you’ll start feeling unhappy as you don’t have time to enjoy yourself anymore.
8. Have a routine in place.
People don’t like feeling uncertain. Routines make habits and build motivation when you know with certainty what comes next.
Do stuff in batches. In time, you’ll notice how some things go along one with another, and that there are more efficient ways to get stuff done. Don’t dismiss those ideas because “they’re extra work”. Working even hours on an idea that will improve your overall efficiency will pays itself off quickly.
That’s a couple of hours of work that save likely hundreds of hours of work done inefficiently, that could’ve been spent on improving yourself and your business.
Plan out your weeks. Routines will make your day to day life easier but planning out your weeks is working on a broader picture. Planning out your weeks will make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.
Getting overwhelmed usually either makes people drop tasks entirely, or hack at them unmotivated, and make mistakes.
9. If you can’t handle the amount of work you get/have, outsource!
Just because you have someone on your payroll doesn’t mean you’ll earn less money. The time someone saves you working on time consuming tasks, is time spent working on ideas that will earn you more, or get you to be more influential.
Even if you can handle the amount of orders you get, if at the end of the day you don’t have time or motivation to work on improving yourself or your business, you should outsource those time and motivation consuming tasks.
10. Take care of your team.
Make an effort to explain steps to their jobs properly, why and how are they done and make sure that they know exactly what they are doing. This will save you from wasting time explaining little bits to them often.
Make sure to interact with them daily, and compliment them on the job well done, that builds a bond, respect, and eagerness to work and get the job done right.
Make sure their pay reflects the difficulty and responsibility of their job, to them, that’s as equally important as interaction.
If an employee is apathetic to the job and work you’re doing, they’re either not happy about it in some form, stress, pay, work hours, or something else, or they’re not right for you.
Hopefully these will be of help to you, make you feel more organized, productive, and focused.