Productivity Tips at Work: The Freelancer Edition
When you become a freelancer, you get let go of the institutionalised thinking.
You revel in the fact that you have the power to take the days off that you want, start work when you are ready to and tend to household matters when you need to. Whether you want to sneak off for a long lunch or take the dog for a walk, you have the freedom and flexibility to work the way you want to. You even get to work in your pyjamas without any judgement.
There are so many benefits to being a freelancer; it is no surprise it is a growing movement.
However, for some, working from home can feel lonely, you miss the office camaraderie and sometimes, it is just impossible to get motivated when you only have yourself to answer to. Productivity can be one of the hardest things to master as a freelancer, but never fear! Here are some of the best productivity tips at work specially designed for freelancers.
Freelancers: Why you need productivity tips at work
As a freelancer, it is essential to maximise your productivity. After all, if you finish your projects quickly, you increase your hourly rate, have the capacity to take on more work or get to enjoy more free time. Being productive is the single most straightforward way of increasing the money that you make.
So, follow these top productivity tips at work and make your freelancing career more prosperous and more enjoyable.
Freelancer productivity tips at work
While you may be used to workflows, process charts and ways of working at larger businesses, they are often in place for a reason. Knowing what you have to do and how you are going to do it can help you to get through the work as quickly as possible, and you are essentially following a simple step-by-step instruction which makes tasks easier.
Many people discredit this tip as they know how to do their job. However, the cost of forgetting a step and having to go back and redo it is a waste of your time and money. Repetitive tasks may seem ingrained in your mind, but these are often the ones where errors crop up. Having a checklist for projects and repetitive tasks can help you to quality check your work and keep you on track instead of endlessly flitting from one job to another.
While meditation may seem counterproductive as it takes up time in our productive day, it can be one of the most beneficial tactics to increase your focus and improve your productivity. Those who regularly meditate have been proven to have a high level of focus. Practising meditation regularly can help to reduce how often your mind wanders. When it comes to working, the less distracted you are, the more productive you will be.
Meditation does take perseverance, and to many, it does not come naturally.
However, there are lots of apps available such as headspace which offer guided meditation which can help you to become more focused and more productive at work.
- Schedule your day
Freelancers are known for trying to take on too much work and believing they have the capacity to work non-stop, but breaks are essential. Planning breaks can be an invaluable incentive in helping you to knuckle down and focus for another twenty minutes instead of your hand hovering over your phone for your social media fix.
Scheduling when you have breaks is good but planning how you are going to spend your breaks can be a further incentive.
You shouldn’t plan your whole day to the exact minute, as, inevitably, something will crop up, or something else will take longer than expected. However, knowing when breaks will be and having something to look forward to such as a walk, watching an episode of a TV program or meeting a friend for lunch can help you to resist temptation during work time.
Following on from scheduling, there are ways to keep yourself on track time-wise and limit your distractions.
For example, the Pomodoro Technique is a system where you work for 25 minutes and then have a five-minute break or rest. You continue this for four sessions and then have a longer break.
By timing these blocks of rest and work, you know exactly how long you can spend on distractions before getting back to work. You can also see that another rest is coming up soon which can help you to focus and work quickly to get more done before your next break.
There are lots of timing applications that you can download to your computer or phone, or even a traditional kitchen timer will work to keep you focused. If you find that 25-minutes is too long or too short for you, simply adjust the timings to suit you and your concentration levels.
- Create a productive space
Distractions and uncomfortable surroundings can make you fall into bad habits while working and you can easily lose your productivity and focus. Whether you choose to work at home, at a coworking space or even a coffee shop, make sure the space is optimal for your needs.
Clutter and mess can make us stressed which may affect our concentration levels. Make sure your workspace is clean and organised. Plants can also help to create a calming atmosphere which natural light and a comfortable temperature will also help.
Remember to look after your body. As a freelancer, you are responsible for your own health and safety in the workplace. So, make sure you are protecting your posture and not causing any unnecessary pain and strain to your body or eyes.
When it comes to distractions, there are plenty of techniques to help create a zone of calm. Noise cancelling headphones are ideal for coffee shop workers while switching your phone to aeroplane mode can help to limit the number of calls and messages you see during work time. Apps such as Anti-Social and RescueTime can also help to prevent you from getting distracted.
- Add variety
Burnout can be a big problem for workers, especially when your main source of income comes from one specific skill. We all hit a wall, and we can all suffer from a block whether it is creatively or practically. The best thing to do to keep your time productive when you are struggling with monotony is to make sure your daily schedule has different tasks.
For example, work on a project for a couple of hours and then spend half an hour responding to emails or queries. You can also take a break from doing the work to quality checking or editing. Spending time on your marketing or self-promotion can help to make business management less daunting but can also help to break up long, repetitive days so that you do not suffer from burnout.
- Get to know yourself
Only you know when you are most productive and when you can deliver the best work.
Take the time to understand your optimal work hours, the time of day that you provide the best work and when you are likely to be productive or tired. By understanding yourself, strengths and times that you may be flagging, you can create a freelancing schedule that works for you.
Once you know when you are highly productive, you can build your sleep routine and social life around this to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance and make it as easy as possible for you to get stuff done.