The term freelancer is used to describe someone who typically works in a self-employed capacity, without long-term commitments to a particular employer. For some it seems like an envious career choice, giving you the utmost flexibility and freedom to work where you want when you want. You have no doubt seen the adverts aimed at prospective freelancers with the promise of the ability to work from a beach house at a time that suits them. The reality, however, is often very different, while there certainly are benefits to working as a freelancer one of the biggest drawbacks is, if you don’t work you don’t get paid. There is no entitlement to paid leave, so you will have to fund that working trip to the beach house with, well working. To get the most out of a freelance role it is essential you can maximize your productivity. After all, the more productive you are the more you can earn or the more downtime you can have. Here are some essential tips to helping improve your productivity as a freelancer.
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Think about your workspace
First and foremost you want to have a distraction-free work area. Sitting at your kitchen table does not always offer up the most practical solution, furthermore, the distraction of making endless cups of coffee and raiding the fridge is inevitable. If you can, consider devising a purpose-built work area, be it a home office or just a desk space in the corner of a room to help you get in the right mindset when it comes to starting work. That said if your home is noisy and crowded it will not be the best place to concentrate on your deadline and as much as you may have dreamed of being the next Carrie Bradshaw by working from your local coffee shop the practicalities of this do not lend themselves to productivity either.
To really get the most out of your time and up your productivity consider hiring private office space. It will not only give you the peace and quiet that you need to get your head in the game but more importantly it will afford you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a business-like professional environment. You will be surrounded by others who are working and this alone helps you get into the ‘time to work’ frame of mind and will provide you with fewer opportunities to procrastinate. You won’t be staring at the washing up you left from last night or your children or partner cannot keep distributing you with questions. It is a private professional space for you and you alone. Explore companies such as Executive workspace to find out more about the solutions they have for you.
Wherever your desk space is ensure that it is kept clean, tidy, and organized. Regularly wipe down your desk, keep wires tidy and out of sight, and where possible keep clutter to a minimum. A clear and tidy desk makes for a clear and tidy mind, boosting both your morale and productivity.
Plan you schedule
Most jobs have a start and finish time, with a lunch break factored in. You will also be expected to turn up in the appropriate attire. Working as a freelancer should be no different. While it may be tempting to sit around in your pajamas and work from your bed, it will not do your productivity levels any good. Make the effort to get up and get dressed before starting work.
Decide upon a time that suits you to start working – that is the benefit, after all, you can choose the time. Just make sure you stick to it. Set yourself a start and finish time and be sure to take into account rest breaks and lunch stops. Where you can get outside for some fresh air in these breaks. Regular breaks and fresh air will improve your productivity no end. If you need to work a little later then so be it, but if you finish early then you don’t need to ask your boss for permission to leave. Another perk of freelancing.
Once you know when you intend to start, finish and break for lunch it is a good idea to plan your day in detail. Here are some things to consider when planning your day:
To-do list. Come up with a to-do list and itemize all the things you need to get done that day and be sure to list them in terms of priority. That way you will ensure the most pressing deadlines are met first.
Set goals. It is also a good idea to set weekly or daily goals. If you want to be sure to achieve something write it down and place it somewhere you can see it every day to serve as both motivation and a reminder.
Reflect on your day. At the end of the day look back over your goals and to-do list and consider what you have achieved. Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. If something hasn’t worked well then assess why and what you can do to improve it. If something has worked well then be sure to note it for next time.
Turn off distractions
Distractions and procrastination are the death of productivity for freelancers. It is all too easy to get lost and waste your time searching the internet for things you do not need to know. Consider these distractions and how best to avoid them.
Multi-tasking. How many web browsers do you have open on your screen right now? How many are relevant to the work you are doing? Chances are not all of them are and you have been multi-tasking and distracting yourself by checking your bank balance, reading the news, or online shopping. Don’t be tempted to multitask when it comes to working, you will only do half a job of each task and waste time you don’t have.
Stop social media. If you explore your social media app settings it will be able to tell you how many hours a day you have spent on that app. Once you add time spent on, Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok together you have accumulated a frightening amount of wasted time that could be better spent working. To avoid getting sucked into social media log out of your accounts on your devices or turn your notifications off for the duration you have set aside to work.
Tell others when you are busy. If people do not know you are working they will not know not to contact you or that you are not to be disturbed. Don’t be afraid to tell others what your working hours are and that you won’t be able to get back to them during those times.
Take care of yourself
Minimizing distractions and having the optimum working environment are key factors for ensuring the productivity of a freelancer but that does not mean you should overlook your overall health and wellbeing. If you are physically and mentally healthy and well your productivity rates will be exponentially higher.
Ensuring your physical and mental wellbeing is never more prevalent than when working alone. Working as a freelancer can often mean fewer social interactions and fewer opportunities to get outside or be active, you don’t often have a daily commute after all. Freelancers working from home can become quite latent and this will have an adverse impact on your health and wellbeing. To ensure you look after your physical and mental health as a freelancer follow some of these tips;
Eat well. Ensuring you have a balanced and nutritious diet will work wonders for your productivity and wellbeing. Avoid quick sugary fixes like sweets and fizzy drinks as these will spike your energy levels at first only to find them plummeting once their effect has worn off. If you are at home make the most of the fact you can access freshly cooked food and don’t rely on fast food or pre-made lunches to get you through the day.
Don’t eat at your computer. Make sure you take some time to stand up and get away from your screen to eat. Mentally taking a break from your seated position, hunched over your screen will do you good and it will stop you from spilling drinks or foodstuff over your expensive laptop or important paperwork.
Stay hydrated. Keeping your fluid levels high is important for your health and wellbeing and to keep your brain working efficiently and your productivity levels high.
Stretch. Set some time aside to get up from your desk and stretch your legs, arms, back, and shoulders. Anything that has started to stiffen up. Alternatively, you can even carry out some stretches from your desk to help keep you mobile and ache free.
Exercise. Whether you go for a quick jog in your lunch break or a pre-work spin class, force yourself out of the house to get a hit of endorphins. Exercise is proven to improve your wellbeing, physical fitness and boost productivity.
Don’t forget to reward yourself.
Working as a freelancer requires a lot of discipline and self-motivation. It is important that you recognize a job well done. Be sure to treat yourself with little rewards to keep your motivation high, your productivity levels soaring, and workplace happiness intact.