When you’re your own boss working as a freelancer, managing your time and remaining productive can be challenging. Without a traditional workplace and the daily structure of a 9 to 5 job, it takes a lot more discipline to stay focused.
If you’re new to freelancing or are having a bout of low productivity, here are 8 tips that can help you get on track.
Schedule & Plan
Planning and scheduling is key to succeeding as a freelancer. You need to know how much work you have, how much you can realistically complete in a day, and what steps you need to take to do this. You also need an efficient system for managing your clients and promoting your services.
‘Winging it,’ may be acceptable some days, but if you don’t plan, you’ll end up overwhelmed, under prepared, or even worse – without any clients at all.
Don’t Use Your Freedom To Sleep
One of the main perks of freelancing is the freedom you get to set your own hours and be as flexible in your daily routine as you desire. But, that doesn’t mean sleeping-in every day. Freedom can soon become an indulgence, which can soon lead to complacency.
Utilize the freedom when it matters, like spending time with your family.
This comes from the ‘treat freelancing like any other job’ school of thought. While what you wear each day might not have much of an impact on you personally, you might also be the type that needs to go through the psychological process of getting up and ‘getting ready for work,’ even if you’re just sitting on the couch with a laptop.
Clothes can have a deep symbolic meaning to us, so much so that wearing a suit (or at least professional attire), can increase productivity and change our mindset.
Take Breaks And Divide Tasks
Many freelancers wake up feeling motivated and dive right into their work, but soon burn out because they fail to take enough breaks. Research suggests the best way to stay productive throughout the day is to take short breaks every hour and to divide work between other small tasks.
For example, working for an hour on a project and then doing the laundry, working another hour and then going to the store. This is more efficient than working for two hours flat.
Use Productivity Apps
As much as smartphones can hinder our productivity with easy access to social media and constant notifications, there are also apps that can help.
For example, StayFocusd allows you to block websites and apps at certain times of the day to break your habit of scrolling Facebook or checking YouTube when you should be working.
Other apps like FocusList help you break down and focus on tasks from your daily ‘to-do list.’
Manage Your Emails
You’d be surprised how much time the average person wastes on emails that are essentially meaningless to them. Whether it’s a newsletter you never got around to unsubscribing from or ‘Tweets you missed,’ we often habitually click them just so they disappear from the inbox.
Freelancers need a basic system of getting directly to their client’s emails, even if it’s just through the use of labels in Gmail.
Give Yourself Rewards
Having something to look forward to, even if it’s just something small like a slice of pizza, is a great way to hijack the reward system in your brain for productivity. If you want a slice of pizza then you’ll get it, but only when you’ve finished this client’s work.
It also helps to have a long-term goal, something you can anticipate much further down the line.
Freelancing can be isolating if you let it. Yes, we must work and be productive, but your overall outlook on life (including work) is going to suffer if you don’t get out and have fun socializing. If it ever becomes a big issue, you could always seek out a co-working space with other freelancers.
Freelancing can be immensely rewarding and provides freedoms not found in a traditional job. By following the above tips, you can the most of it without losing your productivity.
Got any productivity tips yourself? Let us know in the comments below!