Working online, while has it perks, also comes with downsides. You are presented with more distractions (Hello, Facebook!) and are readily open to people who can and will take you off your focus (Hey, is that a Skype call from my best bud?).
Distractions waste time. In fact, a study shows that it takes more than twenty minutes to get back on track after a distraction has been entertained. That is a lot of time.
So how do you eliminate these things and be more productive? Here are some ideas.
Block Facebook for a While
One of the major distractions while working online is Facebook, as it offers too many options to waste your time: the ever updating main feed, pictures of your friends, Facebook chat and Farmville, for example. If you cannot live without Facebook, you can install a Google Chrome extension called StayFocusd that blocks websites like Facebook, Twitter and Netflix for a certain amount of time so you can get on with your job and stay away from temptations. Using Firefox? Use Leechblock. Works the same way.
Plan What You Want to Do Tomorrow
There is an old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
If you are someone who budgets their own time (Hello, fellow freelancers!) then you should plan on what you want to do tomorrow. A quick list of tasks on Excel would suffice, ranking them via their urgency and deadlines. You will be doing the more important tasks when your mind is still fresh first, while doing the not-so-important ones when your mind is done lifting heavy.
Do Not Multitask
I personally used to be like this: I would have three to five things that I want to do at the same time and try to do a small chunk of the tasks “as the browser loads”. At the end of the day, I have all of them are less than half finished and are inefficiently performed. The sadder part? Most of my tasks take around an hour to finish each.
Multitasking is for computers only. Believe me, your brain cannot multitask like your laptop can. What your brain does is it just shifts it focus from one task to another, kind of like a spotlight in the theaters.
Single on one task on your list only. If it is a writing job, then write. Do not send emails, do not do research, do not upload your product images “as your Firefox loads”. You will shed hours from your work day.
Take a Break Between Tasks
After laser-focusing on your task and completing it, do not jump into the next task immediately. Allow yourself to recharge a bit. Go on, whip out that 3-in-1 coffee sachet and get yourself some hot water. Enjoy that coffee while you watch some episodes of Happy Tree Friends… but limit yourself. A good 10-20 minutes break is enough to keep your mind from being overloaded.
Got a Few Money to Spend? Hire Someone.
Outsource some of the grunt jobs like logo creation, some writing tasks and social media. You will be amazed by how much time you can free up, which you can use to do more important tasks.