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5 Time-Wasting Distractions Freelancers Can't Afford

It feels like you have all the time in the world when you start working from home. Ignore that feeling because you don't.

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Working from home is one of the most attractive parts of the freelance lifestyle. Away from the distractions of a traditional office, your productivity should naturally skyrocket. Right?

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Actually, that's not always the case. While it is possible to be productive in a home office, working from home offers an entirely new set of time-wasting activities to knock freelancers off their rhythm. From the temptation to sleep in to the ever-present television, low productivity is only a moment of weakness away.

To avoid falling prey to common distractions, identify the ones that pose the biggest challenges and learn how to avoid them. Here are a few that have taken down many an entrepreneur.

Related: Working From Home? Avoid These Not-So-Obvious Distractions.

1. Scrolling social media.

Even if you work in social media marketing, keep your personal social media usage separate from your work life. It's one thing to promote your blog posts and scout for new prospects -- it's another thing to spend 30 minutes flipping through your cousin's vacation pictures.

Set limits on when you can access your social media accounts so you don't fall into an unproductive rut. Social websites are designed to suck people in. You could easily lose an hour or more of your day if you don't actively avoid that temptation.

Related: 7 Ways You're Wasting Time and Don't Even Know It

2. Sedentary sluggishness

When your commute is just a few steps from the bedroom to the office, it's easy to get complacent about your physical well-being. However, if you don't respect your body, your time on the clock will suffer.

Take time out of the workday to exercise. While this might feel like an excuse to stop working, studies show that people who work out during the workday get more done than people who spend that time at their desks. Research shows that exercising on a workday can increase your time management and completed tasks by up to 72 percent.

Related: 5 Reasons to Start Working Out at Work

3. Overly flexible hours.

Freelancer freedom is a double-edged sword. You can take the morning off whenever you want, but if you don't stick to a schedule, you could turn that indulgence into the norm.

I schedule everything during my workday to ensure I get the maximum output from every hour. From exercise to meetings to email checks, everything gets a spot on the calendar. That doesn't mean that I never stray off course, but it does help me keep moving when I might be tempted to slack off.

Related: The 5 Most Successful Work Environments (and the 5 Worst)

4. Unclear physical boundaries.

You might be tempted to spend your work hours, meal times and breaks at your desk. Don't do it. Just as you shouldn't browse your smartphone in bed, you shouldn't get used to doing non-work activities in your workspace.

When you want to take a break, step away from your desk. Watch an episode of a favorite Netflix show in the living room. Eat your lunch at the kitchen table. When you finish, leave the distraction behind and return to your desk ready to work.

Related: 9 Ways to Create a Productive Home Office (Infographic)

5. Invitations from friends.

If your friend invites you to lunch, go for it. If your friend invites you to play golf at 2 p.m., think about whether the temptation to clock out early is worth the loss in productivity.

When you work from home, people start to view your time as free when it's anything but. If you really want to enjoy an afternoon on the greens, schedule one -- don't give in to the momentary urge. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of the freelancer lifestyle without sacrificing your income in the process.

Working from home can be more productive than working in a noisy, people-filled office -- but it takes discipline to make it happen. Steering clear of these five time wasters -- or putting limits on them -- will make a huge difference in a freelancer's productivity and ultimate happiness.

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