Working as a freelancer might seem like a cool idea, but the harsh reality is that it can be pretty tough to stay motivated and productive. All kinds of things are distracting when you work from home. The pile of ironing in the bedroom, the dishwasher to unload and the lawn to cut, not to mention the dog staring at you pitifully in a feeble attempt to persuade you to take him for a walk. But whilst all these things are undoubtedly distracting, it is possible to put in a productive day’s work as long as you plan your time carefully.

1. Allocate Work Time

There is little point in having a vague plan to “do some work before the school run”. Other tasks will encroach on your work time and before you know it, the day will be over and you won’t have achieved much of anything. To prevent procrastination and time wasting pursuits such as updating your status on Facebook, allot a block of time to work and work alone. Make a pledge that you are going to sit down at your desk between 9 and 12 and do nothing but work. Close down social networking sites and forget about the housework. You can play on Twitter once the clock hits 12.

2. Create a Separate Workspace

The key to success when working from home is creating a separate workspace. It might seem like a great idea to set up your computer in the garden or conservatory, but if you do this, you are likely to be distracted by other things. Sitting down at a desk will get you in the right mindset for work, which is half the battle. If space is at a premium, turn a corner of a quiet room into a workstation, preferably out of the way of kids and pets. Just don’t be tempted to work in your bedroom. Bedrooms are for sleep, not work, so your sleep will suffer and you won’t feel like working.

3. Use Rewards as an Extra Incentive

Working from home is hard, so give yourself a break and use rewards to help keep the momentum going. Your reward doesn’t have to be anything too big: the promise of a cup of coffee, a chocolate biscuit and ten minutes on Facebook if you complete 3 articles may be enough to keep you plugging away for an hour.

4. Keep an Ideas Book

Inspiration is sometimes lacking when you work as a freelance writer, so it pays to make a note of good ideas and interesting topics for articles when they occur, no matter how inopportune the moment. Use notebook apps on smartphones to keep a record of your ideas. Alternatively, carry a small pad around with you so you can jot down a great idea when it pops into your head at the supermarket checkout.

5. Take Time Out

Sometimes, in order to be more productive, you may need to take some time out. There is little point in staring at a screen fruitlessly for an hour because you can’t think of anything to write about. If you are stuck, go out for a walk or hit the gym for an hour. The exercise will do you good and you should be ready to get back to work when you return to your desk.

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