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[FREELANCE] 9 Tips while working at Home With Distractions

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by Raj Dash

Freelancing from home has many obvious benefits over working from an office. But it also has its downsides.

There are a lot of distractions, including fairly frequent loud family guests. But you have to learn to work around such things. I’m actually fortunate that I live in an otherwise quiet part of town, and can go for a walk in the forest if it gets too hectic at home.

If you have an unquiet work environment as well, here are some tips that might help.

  1. Work in the basement.

    This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you have it, consider it. Set up a Wi-Fi router (with secured access, of course) and take your laptop when it’s really bad in the rest of the house.

  2. Go to a cafe.

    Sounds crazy, right? But some people actually thrive with certain kinds of noise. I prefer certain types of music but get annoyed if there’s people talking – whether on TV or in real life. Others swear by cafes. (I do, however, go out in public to restaurants, cafes, bus stations if I’m working on fiction, in order to pick up bits of conversation for character building.)

  3. Go to the library.

    College libraries these days don’t seem very quiet anymore, though public libraries probably still are. But if you can put up with the noise, a college library also has great resources for research, including access to otherwise costly journals. If you are either a student or an alumni at a college, you probably have access.

  4. Put on headphones.

    I found that while working at my college library, putting on headphones and listening to music was sometimes a necessity, to dull the sound of conversation. Works at home just as well, if the music doesn’t distract you. You’ll have to decide what types of music make you productive without distraction.

  5. Use white noise generators.

    I prefer the software versions of white noise generators. It’s not free but if I’m feeling really distracted, I use Neuro-Programmer Professional. I can choose duration and types of waves (alpha, beta, theta, etc.) If choose the right waves, it relaxes me without putting me to sleep.

  6. Buy a lot of eggs.

    Some types of egg cartons are good soundproofing material, especially the non-foam flats. If you have a room you can work in where you can paste/ nail up such cartons, it’ll be virtually noise-proof. Might be good for air guitar practice, too, when you get bored or creatively blocked.

  7. Clear must-do tasks.

    These are the tasks – administrative or otherwise – which do not require a high degree of concentration. If you’re too distracted to produce paid content, you might as well get some of your other tasks done. Time these for the noisiest parts of your day. This might include doing email, invoicing, or even twittering or plurking.

  8. Change work hours.

    An oft-repeated benefit of freelancing from home is at least some flexibility of work schedule. Whenever I have podcasting/ screencasting voiceover work to do, I try to change my schedule for other work to take advantage of the quietest times of day. This has been my biggest challenge, due to the daily distractions here.

  9. If you can beat’em, join’em.

    If the noise or distraction level just gets too high, take a break. Listen to some music or watch a movie. Or leave the house and run errands.

How do you deal with distractions when working at home?