Freelancers are prone of severe bouts of procrastination and distraction, the likes of which would get you into serious hot water if you were working for somebody else. But just because you are free to sit in your dressing gown all day drinking coffee, watering your plants and playing video games in between bouts of doing some actual work, it doesn’t mean that you should. Freelancers need to find ways to keep themselves productive outside of their clients’ deadlines. Here are seven useful tips that should help to keep you firing on all cylinders:
Keep Regular Working Hours
When you have a routine, you will find that you are considerably more productive, even when you’re not swamped with work. It doesn’t have to be eight hours straight, or a nine to five shift, but keeping regular working hours will help you get into the working mindset, and get you into good habits like sitting down at the laptop at your desk to work in the morning instead of watching TV and playing with your smartphone for a couple of hours.
If you have a partner, try to keep the same working hours if possible so that you save plenty of time for each other and don’t overlap. Knowing when your partner is coming home will give you an extra incentive to keep working hard during a set amount of time.
Co-working Space and/or Office Hire
There will come a time when you’ll have to make the decision between working at home or hiring an office or co-working space. Some freelancers love being at home because it cuts out the commute to work and everything that comes with that, but for the sake of productivity, hiring an office space could be a godsend. It puts you in the work mindset, whereas staying at home can put you in a false sense of security, devoid of any drive. Take a look at these offices and give some thought to getting some office space. It could give your work ethic a huge boost.
Active Body, Active Mind
Freelancers often find themselves neglecting their health and fitness when they work from home, and it’s easy to see why. You’re spending your working day in the comfort of your home, and all the creature comforts that come with that. But by getting into these habits, you can quickly find that you stop taking walks, using the gym and generally taking care of yourself, and that can feed into your work.
Take a break from the computer screen and go for a walk. If you have a dog, this will help you out. Perhaps do a fitness class. You’ll find that the rush of endorphins will help you focus when you return to work, and you’ll be more productive in the second part of the day.
Make Your Home a Distraction Free Zone
If you’re turning a room in your home into an office, it should resemble the kind of office you have previously worked in, not an extension of your home life. Video games, magazines, DVDs and any other distractions should be kept out of this room, or they could kill your productivity and lead you to procrastination. If you guzzle coffee, consider getting a pot installed in your office so that you do not constantly have to leave the office to go to the kitchen. You’ll be passing many temptations along the way, and a two-minute trip could wind up taking twenty minutes instead.
Set Short Term Targets and Long-Term Goals
Freelancers are prone to bouts of being extremely busy, then completely devoid of any work. In order for this to not become a major issue for your productivity, focus on setting short-term targets and long-term goals to work towards. This will give you the drive you need to keep going through the dry spells and keep you focused when you’re swamped with work and the deadlines and stress are getting to you. Have these targets and goals on a whiteboard or notice in front of you while you work. It will remind you why you get up every morning, and why you work as hard as you do.
Prioritize Your Workload
Freelancers will often find themselves with a lot of work to do, and it can be difficult to meet deadlines when you’ve got nobody but yourself to turn to in order to get it done well, and on time. The best way to deal with this issue and ensure that you keep your productivity levels up is to prioritize your workload, and you can do this in a number of ways. First of all, look at each task and work out the timescale for completion, and the deadline for each. From there, add each task into your calendar (preferably on your computer, so you get alerts to keep you on track) so that you know exactly what you should be doing an any given moment. This will keep you motivated and productive until all your tasks are completed.
Do the Difficult Tasks First
There are inevitably going to be times when you’ve got work to do, and it’s the last thing you want to be working on. You have to get it done, but you’ll put it to the back of the queue until the last possible moment. This can be a killer for your productivity, as in the back of your mind, that horrible task is waiting for you, eating away at you. Even when you’re working on more enjoyable tasks, you’ll be well aware that the painful stuff is next, and it can affect your other work as a result.
Concentrate on doing the work you least enjoy first, and then you can spend the rest of your working day enjoying the work you’re doing, which will get you in a more productive, positive mindset, which is where you want to be. The same goes for the difficult tasks. It’s better to struggle at the beginning of the day when you’re fresh, then have a titanic struggle at the end of the day when you’re tired, and the caffeine is wearing off.