Freelancing offers a lot more freedom and flexibility than other jobs — as your own employer you are completely responsible for how you spend each day. However, this means that you have to rely on yourself to stay motivated and focused at all times, which is often easier said than done.
These are a few tips that can help you to maximize your productivity as a freelancer.
Set yourself a routine
As a freelancer you pretty much have complete control over your working day — you can decide which clients to work with, what projects to take on, and when and how you do your work. While this flexibility is one of the draws of being a freelancer, it can also mean you end up working fairly erratically.
You might often find yourself procrastinating when you don’t have immediate deadlines, but as they get closer you have to work around the clock to get everything finished. For most people, this isn’t a sustainable or productive way of working.
Setting up a clear routine for your working days can help you to maximize your productivity and stay focused for the hours you know you’re working. You’ll be able to do your work to a better standard and get it done faster.
Maybe the most productive routine for you isn’t the straight 9 to 5 that many office jobs center around. But figure out what does work for you and stick to it. Get up at the same time every day, take your lunch break at a set point, and give yourself a clear finish time. A good routine also stops your working day rolling on into your evenings. It’s important to have some time off so you can be more productive when you are working.
Track your day
Even with a routine in place, it’s still possible to end up wasting time, procrastinating, or just working inefficiently. You might be sitting down trying to work for the right number of hours, but you need to consider exactly what you are spending that time on. Simply clocking in and out at the same time each day doesn’t guarantee you’re being productive enough.
One of the best ways to reduce procrastination is by using time clock software. You can track how long you spend on each piece on each task throughout the day and get an overall view of how much time different projects take. You will be able to know how you spend your time — which tasks are taking up most of your time and whether they are actually worth the time spent on them. It will provide you with a better idea of how you can optimize your work processes and be more efficient throughout your workday.
Wherever you’re working from it’s important to have a proper office setup to maximize your productivity levels.
You need a desk space that’s big enough, and drawers or filing cabinets so you keep everything tidy and organized. If you’re going to be sitting at a desk all day using the computer it’s important that your chair provides enough support to prevent back problems and keep your focus on your work.
It’s important to have the right equipment for a productive office space as well. From a large screen monitor that can be adjusted to the right height, to a suitable docking station that provides enough connections for audio cables, screen cables, and additional USB ports.
Setting yourself up with a suitable workspace that has all the necessary equipment and allows you to focus on what you’re doing without distractions is essential for increasing your productivity as a freelancer.
Turn off distractions
One of the biggest time drains in the working day is email. It’s an important tool for communicating, but it’s not helping your productivity levels. You might not think much of it, but every time you notice a new email, stop what you’re doing to read and then reply, it takes up a huge chunk of time. In fact, a study showed respondents spend about 5 hours and 52 minutes with email-related items each workday. On top of that keeping up to date with phone messages and social media throughout the day wastes a lot of time.
It’s a lot more productive to switch off and shut down all potential distractions to focus completely on a particular task.
Schedule in a certain amount of time to check your emails, messages, and social media accounts such as twenty minutes first thing in the morning, five minutes at lunch, and half an hour before the end of the day. This way you can add any actions required to your to-do list for the day, but you won’t be interrupting your workflow repeatedly.
For the rest of the day close down your email and put your phone out of the way. If you’re really struggling then you can use apps that limit your access to distractions like email and social media.
With deadlines looming and no one but you to get the work done, it could be tempting to try and work straight through the day. But our attention drops off and we aren’t as focused if we keep working for hours and hours, especially if it’s on one piece of work or project.
Aim to take regular breaks throughout the day, at least two or three breaks. They don’t need to be big. Just ten minutes to get up and walk around will do. Taking breaks will actually make you more focused when you get back to it. And it can give you a chance to step away from the task and come back with a fresh perspective.
Maximizing your productivity as a freelancer relies on you being able to stick to a fairly regular routine, and knowing how to keep yourself motivated and focused at all times. By following these simple steps you should be able to improve your working habits and achieve more each day.
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