The Campus Roommate’s Guide to Maintaining Productive Efficiency
College freelancers, many of whom probably live on campus, can attest to this: it’s a pain in the rear to stay productive when you live with others. Even if you don’t live on campus or go to school, sharing living space can really put a damper on your productivity levels, hindering both your academics and your freelancing. So for all of those student freelancers that struggle with productive efficiency while living with others, and for those that realize that they could get a lot more done if it wasn’t for your cohabitants, here is a quick list of tips and tricks I have learned to help take back your productivity away from your roommates.
Discuss setting set “quiet time” hours in the house.
Best for when you live with other college students who also (should) study and complete assignments, look into discussing with your roommates setting distinct “quiet time” hours during the day. Finding a block of two hours (give or take some minutes) every day that everyone agrees to be quiet is ideal. Some students may prefer having this time in the morning; others prefer to have this time in the evenings. Whichever the case may be, try to find times that work best with the others. It may come down to having two sets of two hour blocks during the day or having different times on different days.
Approaching your roommates about this is also a consideration. You will have more success in convincing your roommates for quiet times if they are studious, good grade students, or if they also have had to complain to the rest of the house to stay quiet. However, if your roommates are constantly loud and don’t particularly care about studying or their grades, then it could prove to be a tough challenge to make them sit still for a set amount of time.
As for freelancing, you may want to try to push for quiet times that are inside regular business hours, so that you can work on freelance work and email/call clients during these working hours. Your clients may not appreciate too much phone calls at 6 or 7 o’clock at night, or ones with your roommates screaming in the background. Also if you are emailing clients during business hours, you need focus to make sure the purpose of those emails are fulfilled and you don’t forget to add something just because someone threw a pizza roll at you.
If the above isn’t an option or was a total fail, you could always relocate. Depending on what you need to work on, this could be a good thing or a pain. Pack up what you need, and head off to the campus library. This works great for me when I am on campus because I can find a nice quiet area, with a big table, and a power plug close by, and I am set for a few hours.
If you have to relocate, be sure to pack everything you need to complete your work. This includes your computer, books, client files, a notepad for notes, etc. Having all of this ready–even the act of packing up all of the needed materials–can get you in the mindset of wanting to be productive, leading you to be able to immediately focus on your work when you arrive in your quiet place.
If you plan to call clients in this new area, be sure that you don’t disrupt others around you. You know how annoying it is for someone to talk on the phone when you are working on projects, so respect the others around you as well.
Set times for you to work on freelancing, and times for school work
So what does this have to do with keeping productivity high when living with others? Because it makes you focused. If you need to work on client projects early in the day so that you can get work done, then you should focus on creating the right environment to do so. Depending on what you are working on, you may not need complete silence, or you can get away with putting in some headphones with your favorite music and be able to take care of business. If you can tolerate noise while you are working on your freelance projects (such as now I can tolerate a blaring TV from the other room), then you may go leaps and bounds when it comes to your roommates by not hassling them to be quiet.
When you set these times to perform different types of work—for me, freelance work doesn’t require silence like my school work and reading does—then your roommates will more than likely start respecting those times as well. If they see you focused in working (hopefully) they will start to leave you alone so you can get work done, even without asking them to.
Take advantage of when your roommates are out of the house.
A great solution for me, I just wait to work on things until they are out of the house either to work or class. This should be a set time for all of your roommates, since universities like to schedule classes at the same times on the same days every week. Even if all of your roommates are never gone at the same time, even having a few of them out of the house can prove beneficial for you to get things done without being bothered.
If you are still working when your roommates come back, placing a nice note on the door before their arrival to let them know you are working can help you extend your working time, as they will respect your wishes for as long as they remember that there was a note on the door.
If all else fails, invest in some noise-canceling headphones.
This is one tip that I am currently working through. Look into investing in some quality noise-canceling headphones. A way to block out the noise so that you can work on your client work, noise-canceling headphones can help block out your roommates and allow you to create a nice quiet area no matter where you are. Remember to keep your budget in mind though, as they are not cheap.
Have any tips to stay productive while living with others?
Photo credit: ethanhickerson on Flickr