When you tell someone you’re a writer who works from home, one of the first comments you might hear is, “Wow, so you can write whenever you want?” Well, yes and no. Despite your best intentions, you may find that it’s difficult to stay on track with your writing. If that’s the case, you may end up working seven days per week or pounding away on your laptop from morning to night, dreaming about the day when you can finally take it easy. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are four tips to try if you feel like you’re writing (or trying to write) 24/7 and getting nothing done.
Set Specific Working Hours
One of the perks of self-employment is that you can work whenever you want. That’s also one of the drawbacks. When you have the freedom to meet a deadline at your convenience, it’s easy to spend the entire day writing. Regain control of your work life by setting specific hours for yourself.
Be practical when you set your hours. If you’re a night owl, don’t schedule yourself a day shift. If you have small children at home, consider working late at night or before the sun rises. You may also find it easier to schedule a split shift, such as four hours for work, four hours for errands and a lunch break, and four more hours of writing. Do what works best for you and your lifestyle, because it will be easier to stick with a schedule that meets your needs.
When you punch in a time clock outside of your home, you probably never miss a lunch break or 15-minute rest break. That’s not the case for many who write from home. It’s easy to skip breaks because you think you don’t need them or feel like you’re being lazy if you stop writing for a few minutes, but this can take a huge toll on you.
Failing to take a break can cause you to feel burned out. You may start to hate what you’re doing if you never take a moment to do something else. Set an alarm to remind yourself to take regular breaks, and make sure that you actually escape your home office for a bit. Walk around the block, drive down the street to grab a bite to eat, or meet up with friends. Your brain and body will thank you.
Distractions come in different forms from fun Facebook games to uninvited neighbors who never seem to go home. If the Internet is a major distraction for you, try an app like Focus Booster. You can use the app to block social networking sites, YouTube, or even your personal email account when you’re busy with a writing project.
It’s slightly harder to eliminate other distractions, such as chatty family members or neighbours; but it can be done. In fact, if you follow the two steps listed above this one, you may find that it’s easier to prevent these types of distractions. Uninvited guests may be less likely to stop by if they know you have set writing hours and regular break times, and people may stop asking you for rides to the post office or grocery store if they know you’re busy writing your next book.
No matter how much you love your career, there will be days when you just don’t feel like being productive. You’ve probably outgrown star stickers and pencil toppers, but you can improve motivation by rewarding yourself in other ways.
Start by setting small, easy-to-achieve goals, such as, “I will write for 30 minutes and then spend five minutes watching motivational YouTube videos.” (Or whatever works for you, of course!) As your focus increases, you can change your hourly goals to daily goals, like, “I can order pizza tonight if I finish writing these two pages by 4 PM.” You can even set weekly goals, like, “I will buy a new pair of jogging shoes if I meet all of my deadlines on time this week.”
Working from home can be rewarding for writers, but it can also be difficult. Eliminate distractions and stick to a regular schedule by trying the four tips above. Good luck with your book!
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