You've taken the leap and started your new career as an independent travel agent or other entrepreneur. You are your own boss and can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. All that freedom can come with a price, though. Because you are your own boss, it's now all down to you (and only you) to stay focused and build the business.
But when you work from home, there can be so many distractions. A load of laundry to put on, a dog to let out, social media to scroll . . . the list of potential distractions is endless. So how do you overcome it all and stay focused on your new career?
Here are five tips used by independent contractors that may work for you, too:
Set (and Keep) Office Hours
One of the best ways to stay focused when you work from home is to set and maintain a routine. Find the hours that work best for you and stick to them. Of course, there will be times outside of those hours that you'll need to attend to client requests. But when you set hours for yourself, you'll be training your brain to focus during that time. You will also be less distracted when you know you have time for other activities later.
One of the hardest parts of working from home (or a hotel in a far-flung land) is convincing your family and friends that you are, in fact, working. They may ask you out to coffee, see if you can run an errand for them, or stop by for an unannounced visit. You'll need to let friends and family know that those hours are for working and that you are unavailable for other tasks.
Remember that not all work times work for all people. You may find that you are the most productive first thing in the morning. Or your productivity burst might come at 2 a.m. Discover the work times that are best for you and build your daily schedule around them. It's one of the luxuries of working for yourself, so take advantage of it.
Create a Comfortable Space for Work
Some people are able to work in a busy coffee shop with no problem. The noise around them may even help them focus on their work. Others need a quiet space, free from distractions. Discover what environment makes you the most productive and if you have the luxury of setting up a home office, do it. Removing yourself from the distractions of what needs to be done around the house may help you focus on your job.
You might find that although you "work from home," home is actually your least productive place to work. Seek out a local coffee shop or join a co-working space and adopt it as your home away from home.
Remember that co-working spaces exist around the world, too. Most of them offer day passes to their facility for visiting independent contractors. It's a great way to find an office space while you are traveling and network with other entrepreneurs around the world.
Put Technology to Work for You
If you find that social media or apps on your phone are your biggest focus downfall, then put technology to work for you. There are a variety of apps available for both Android and Apple that limit your smartphone access. You can block out social media apps for certain hours during the day. Or you can limit the amount of time you can spend in an app. That helps ensure you don't play too many levels of your favorite candy-crushing game during work time.
Some people get distracted by incoming email and text messages. Check out the options on your phone for simple solutions. You can always mute your phone, of course. But many systems also allow you to set up priority contacts who bypass the silence so they can reach you if needed. This way, you won't worry about missing important phone calls or messages. But, you won't have to look at your phone constantly to check for them, either.
Try a New Productivity Method
Your lack of focus may be coming from how you are organizing your day. Take time to read about productivity methods that change the way you work. The goal is to focus your time and boost your productivity. Some of the techniques subscribe to doing one thing at a time, eliminating all multitasking. Others encourage you to make lists before you get started on anything. It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you.
One of the most popular productivity methods is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique breaks your day down into bursts of work time. You choose a task, focus on it for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After four of these cycles, you take a long 30-minutes break. The frequent, short breaks give your brain a rest and help you maintain focus during the work bursts. There are many free timer apps that help you keep track of your work cycles.
When you are first getting started as an entrepreneur or independent contractor, it's worth trying out some of these productivity methods. You may find that they have a positive impact on your focus.
Walk Away at the End of the Day
No matter how much you love your job, you can't stay focused on it 24 hours a day. Not only will your focus fail, but you'll burn out on it quickly. So at the end of the day, walk away from your job! Close that laptop, turn off that phone, and go enjoy some free time. Get outside, work out, explore a new area, or spend time with your family.
You might work from home now, but it doesn't mean that work has to be your entire life. Recharging your own internal batteries will make you a better worker when you sit back down at your desk the next time.
Have tips about how to stay productive when working from home? Share them in the comments! We'd love to learn more about how at-home workers focus as they enjoy all the benefits of being an independent travel agent.