Freelancing has lots of perks. You can work your own hours. You can pick and choose your projects and work with just those people you enjoy working with. You can take holidays and time off with a sick child without asking permission from the boss. You can even go to work in your pajamas!
However, all that freedom can get in the way too. Sometimes it can seriously distract you from getting the work done.
Productivity is the key. Freelance more, get more done for your clients and you’ll earn more money. Productivity doesn’t just mean working more – it means working smarter, too. So here are some tips to help you become a more productive freelancer:
1. Set yourself a fake deadline
Let’s say you have a deadline to design a logo and it’s due on the 15th. If you’re like many freelancers then you put it on your calendar for the 14th and you don’t think about that client or project until then. Fake the deadline and put it on your calendar for the 10th. You’ll deliver early and make the client happy. Even better, it leaves your diary free for more work between the 10th and the 15th!
2. Work in chunks of time
How do you schedule your work? Do you work some 10-hour days and not work other days at all? Chances are those 10-hour days are long and slow. It may actually take you twice as long to complete a project if you try to sit down and finish it all in one go.
Instead, work in short segments of time. While 20-30 segments may be best, experiment and see what works for you. When your time is up, take a break and do something else. Go take a walk, read a book, or do something that doesn’t require intense focus. Then return to your project feeling refreshed and ready to focus again.
3. Create a daily task list with your priorities at the top
Find a tool that works for you – paper and pen or scheduling software are both good. Personally, I just create a really simple list in Evernote.
Create a task list for the upcoming day. Put priority projects and tasks at the top of your list so you start the day making an impact. There are also handy smartphone applications (e.g. Evernote again!) that you can use to stay on track each day.
Then, get clear on your strengths and which tasks you really want to do. Identify your top challenges and create systems to overcome them. For example, if you are easily distracted by email, consider finding a virtual assistant to manage your business email. If you’re a procrastinator and save everything for the last minute, consider taking on more projects so you’re always busy and don’t have time to procrastinate.
Take a few minutes to sit down and document how you work at the moment. What makes sense? What encourages productivity and success? What’s getting in your way? Create systems to eliminate the challenges and finally create the freelance business you want.
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