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As a copywriter I spend all of my working life online. I like to think I'm very productive however I'm only human. It can be a lonely life sometimes which is why throughout the day I often gravitate towards social networks to interact with others in the same boat.
This is, of course, no good for productivity as if a good conversation starts suddenly an hour can be whiled away simply chatting. A pastime that doesn't pay the bills.
I recently came across one freelance blogger who hired a woman to slap him every time he veered towards Facebook. He claims that this intervention increased his productivity from 38% to 96%. A figure not to be sniffed at!
We can't all have our personal slapper following us around though so here are some top tips that I follow to ensure I am as productive as possible every time I enter the office.
For some this sounds like a waste of time, for me it's a lifesaver. There's nothing complicated about it, I just have a page a day diary and every evening as I finish work I write down my to-do list for the next day. As a copywriter work often comes in ad hoc and many people need work yesterday so I'll add requests as the day goes along too.
Without it I'd be lost, searching through emails to find requests, forgetting about crucial work and I'd have bits of paper everywhere.
The to-do list is satisfying too especially when you can cross tasks off the list. This little tick is reward enough but I will often use these times to stop for coffee or play for ten minutes on social media. This ensures my brain is free to take on the next task without remnants of the last infiltrating.
When you work for yourself and you work alone there's no one to impress (apart from clients). One reason the man who employed the face slapper believed his productivity increased was not because he feared a slap but because he had someone monitoring his activity. Without goals set by others it's important to set them yourself.
For example, as a writer, I always aim to complete a certain number of words a day, or a certain amount of projects. Once I've reached my goal, I relax a little and if I've time left over I'll do extra work at a much more relaxed pace. Goal setting helps in a multitude of ways as if I'm more productive one day I can be flexible and maybe take an afternoon off the next. This is the beauty of working for yourself.
Many people envy those of us that work from home however it's not as easy as it seems. You need willpower to make it work. Unlike working in an office environment you can become easily distracted with daily chores. If you're a parent you may think stopping to put the washing on or clean bedrooms is productive yet you'll soon find your workday extends until you can't see an end.
I'm lucky as I have a househusband who helps with the daily chores and my office is separated from the house, I make a point of not going into the kitchen throughout the working day. I am still disturbed quite often though by the children but I often tell them as soon as they leave me to work the sooner I can finish and give them 100% attention instead of just 50% if I still have work on my mind.
Some people find blocking social networks altogether helps. Personally, working alone I like to know there's a community just a click away, it's just managing the time so it doesn't take over and if it does consider becoming a social media manager!