Matthew Yarde writes at FreelanceSwitch about how you can upgrade your skill-level in 24 hours, using something called Parkinson’s Law. The gist of Parkinson’s Law is that your work will take as much time as you give it. This is especially important for home-based freelancers to note.

Why? Because so many of us work-at-home types do not make a distinction between work time and free time. So we often end up working long hours and don’t always understand why. If you cannot make the distinction, then there’s less focus, less urgency.

Part of the problem lies in mindset. The irony is that the very freedoms that you enjoy as a freelancer might be exactly why you have trouble making a distinction in your time “zones”.

So if you find yourself taking a lot longer for work that used to be fairly quick when you started freelancing, maybe it’s time to start acting like you’re going to work:

  1. Get up at a set time each day. This more than anything will help with establishing a work mindset.
  2. Prepare for work. Brush your teeth, shower, wear something other than your pajamas. You can always switch when your “work day” is finished.
  3. Take work and lunch breaks. While I prefer to only eat when I’m hungry, I find that a quick break after a couple of hours of work is like a mental palate cleanser.
  4. Work on the clock. Have a cut-off point for when you finish all work for the day. It took me a few years, but I now try to stop at 8 pm. Everything I do online after that is usually personal. I should point out that I don’t start work normally until between 9:30-10:30, and that take a number of breaks most days. Stopping at 8 pm is a whole lot better than what I used to do: stopped at 3 am.

If you feel like you’re preparing for work and have a definable stop point, it’s far easier to make a distinction between work time and free time. So it becomes easier to focus – kicking Parkinson’s Law in the pants.

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