Working as a freelancer is great in so many ways – the freedom from presenteeism, the variety of projects you can take on and the fact that technology now enables us to work from (almost) anywhere.
But there’s one issue that freelancers struggle with time and time again – how to focus.
When you’re working on a number of different projects, like we all do at Nine Media, it can be really tricky to separate out your time and ensure you get what you need to get done, done.
I’ve had a hectic few weeks where I’ve been working on Nine Media business, content and social strategy for a skincare client, partnerships for a flexible-working organisation and also editing a print magazine content plan for an agency.
It’s a champagne problem for a freelancer, but how can you best focus down on multiple projects when emails and messages on them all are pinging into your laptop and phone constantly?
I’ve found a few tips help…
- Switch off notifications
I can’t recommend this enough. If your phone’s lighting up every couple of minutes with distracting ‘SUMMER SALE 60% OFF!” alerts (or even just what your friends are up to on social) then it’s impossible to stay focused on just one thing, and a tumble down the internet hole is inevitable. Bye-bye, work!
- Create a ‘Focus Timer’
Giving myself a self-imposed time block in which to work on ONE project I find really useful. I’ll set a 50 minute countdown timer on my phone, shut down email and Twitter on my laptop, and get stuck in. Only after the timer beeps do I allow myself to sneak a look at my inbox.
- Take a break
You know what I mean by ‘brain fry’? When you’ve been staring at a screen for so long your shoulders are hunched up by your ears and you can barely string a coherent through together? Not so good for focus and original thought. Taking a quick walk around the coffee shop, chat to a nearby human being (if you’re lucky) or even to the toilet (oh the glamour) can be mega helpful in resetting your brain.
- Listen to podcasts
I appreciate this might not be for everyone – especially if you’re the sort that finds a pin drop can jolt you out of your reverie. But I love background noise and music, and actually find that plugging into on of my favourite podcasts, such as WTF With Marc Maron, This American Life or Revisionist History helps me double down on the project I’m working on. I might need to then listen to the podcasts a second time to remember what was said, but that’s no hardship…