Freelancing, like every other career choice, has its pros and its cons. But hang on, that’s not entirely true. It has more pros and more cons than any other conventional career choice. And why is that? Exactly because it is not a conventional career choice to follow. While the gains are quite high (with freelancing done right), it is quite easy to lose in this game. One of the biggest disadvantages of freelancing is the infinite number of distractions a freelancer has to combat in his/ her everyday work life. And when we (I am on your side if you’re reading this!) run out of distractions, we magically find a way to conjure up more of them.
So what do some of the most frequent distractions look like for freelancers? And more importantly, how can we avoid them? Read on to find out.
The social media trap
Regardless of whether or not one is a freelancer, we are all quite aware of this particular distraction that is somehow able to get the worst of us. There is evidence that tells us that Indian employees spend more than 32% of their time on social media. This is based on data for employees, if they were to do a similar survey for freelancers, it would hardly be a surprise if the statistic was significantly higher.
Now that we have admitted that all those mindless hours of scrolling on Instagram is hugely distracting, what can we do to fix it? First, get an idea of exactly how much time you spend on social media. One of the ways you can do this is by getting an app like AntiSocial. This app gives you the scary statistics of just how long you have spent on social media during your day. Once you have absorbed that shock, you will know that setting boundaries for how much time you spend on social media are not good just for your work, but also for your personal life. Social media can be addicting, it is designed to be addicting. But all you need to do to stop getting trapped (especially during your work hours!) is to make your mind up, make a plan, and follow it through.
The email swamp
One of the most essential tools for being a successful freelancer is to know how to network. Staying connected through email is one of the crucial ways to leverage your networking skills. However, losing focus during work by time and again checking your email is something that most freelancers would plead guilty to. One way to check this habit is to set limits for yourself. Check your email once in the morning, and once before you sign out. Allot not more than thirty- sixty minutes of your work time to checking and responding to emails. Setting this boundary will help you not only retain focus but also to prioritize.
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One of the greatest disadvantages of freelancing is the fact that friends and family seem to think that you are always available. Which means that your phone will ring right when you have managed to achieve your peak state of focus. And once you get distracted, it takes at least 20 minutes to get back into the deep focus zone. One of the ways you can tackle this is by putting your phone on silent. For every 45 minutes you work, give yourself 5 minutes to check your phone and then get back to work. Leaving your phone aside when you sit down to work is essential. This ensures you not only avoid getting distracted by calls and messages, you also curb the temptation to get into your social media profiles.
Undefined work hours
Too much flexibility is one of the core disadvantages of freelancing. In order to be a successful freelancer, one needs to put in a dedicated amount of hours into disciplined work. When you do not have to wake up by a certain time to get to work because you work from home, you tend to give into having an unhealthily flexible schedule. Know that freelancing perhaps needs a little more hustle than any other regular job because of the lack of a ‘job security’.
When you are a freelancer, time literally is money. And when you lose out on time because of not defining your work hours, you lose out on focus, productivity, and ultimately money. Take advantage of the flexibility of freelancing to find out which part of the day you are most productive during. Once you’ve done that, make sure you invest in at least six hours of deep work.
When discussing the disadvantages of freelancing, it is impossible to not highlight how big a set back not having a defined workspace is, to your everyday productivity as a freelancer. Having your bed in the same area as you work, for example, can be quite a big distraction, especially on cold winter mornings when nothing feels quite as precious as a warm bed. Setting in place physical boundaries when you work, and having a dedicated workspace is crucial to improving your efficiency as a freelancer.
Pick a quiet corner in your house which can accommodate your desk, and let your family know that that is your work zone. In case your house is simply not conducive to working out of, consider investing in co-working options. While this may cost you a bit, it will definitely pay off in the long run when you find you are being able to be significantly more productive and are able to get more out of your day. Besides, this also might be the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded freelancers and network!
Now that you have gone through the worst distractions and disadvantages of freelancing, and the best ways to tackle them and amplify your productivity, get into your Zen mode, and get cracking!
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