For most freelancers, a typical work day is filled to the brim with distractions. From family and friends to the toys on your desk, if there is a way to distract yourself from working, you will find it.
And most productivity articles focus on how to avoid these distractions, narrow your focus and get more work done. But today I want to talk about three acceptable distractions – the ones that can help more than they hurt and how to integrate them successfully into your days.
Distraction #1 – Lunch
While certainly not specific to freelancers alone, eating lunch at your desk is a big issue. The kitchen is right there and you can easily snag something, get back to your desk, and keep working without losing your train of thought.
Even though I regularly do this myself, I try not to. There is something important about the mental break you get when you take 30-45 minutes off midday to eat lunch, read the newspaper or a book, or talk to a human being. By far one of the most productive distractions I allow myself all day.
Distraction #2 – Children
My son is only two so take this with a grain of salt if you have an eight year old who is currently driving you insane as you try to meet a deadline, but I’ve always allowed for a couple of small distractions a day to tackle my son, say hi, and play trucks for a few minutes.
It’s one of the perks of working at home and I don’t want to forget I have it. I still get the cold shoulder sometimes for being upstairs most of the day, but he never goes the entire day without seeing me when I’m in the house.
Distraction #3 – The Outdoors
If it’s nice outside, I can’t sit indoors for more than a few hours. I get this itch between my shoulder blades that practically crawls up my spine and forces me to go outside. Whether it’s a bike ride to the library or working on the back porch for an hour or two, I allow myself the distraction because, again, why be a freelancer if you can’t smell the roses (literally) every now and then?
Work life balance is a difficult thing to maintain. On one hand you have a lot to get done and technically you are never quite finished with it. On the other hand, what good is having a flexible, freelance lifestyle if you spend every waking hour at the computer working? Where is the time for family?
By allowing a few distractions per day at the right times, not only do you stay focused on your work for longer; you are more likely to enjoy and appreciate the work you do.