“God, I could never work from home. I’d just watch daytime TV and sleep in all the time! I’d find it so boring.”
As all home-based freelancers know, freelancing requires a sh*tload of self-motivation, discipline and drive. When you work on a daily or hourly rate, you really can’t afford to coast. And boredom? HA. I haven’t been bored in nearly seven years – there’s always something to do.*
*Although sometimes that thing to do is done in front of a catch up episode of Made In Chelsea. Well, no one’s perfect are they?
Getting into your productivity groove isn’t always easy though, and some days it’s downright impossible. Especially when you have other things to worry about too, like childcare, finding new clients and doing your accounts. So, how can you become a more productive freelancer?
Try some of these ten tips:
- Write a To Do list
Every evening, I write a To Do list for the next day in my Wunderlist app. Often it’s a brain dump of everything I’m worried about – and sometimes those are things carried over from the previous day. But brain dumping everything makes it easier to work out what to tackle the next day – plus I can do it in bed so I sleep better that night.
- Choose your frog
I’m a big fan of the Eat That Frog theory. Essentially, if you had to eat a big, ugly, warty frog at some point today, when is the best time to do it? First thing – otherwise you’re dreading it all day. Once you’ve got your To Do list, choose your frog and get it over with.
- Choose three priorities
After choosing my frog, I choose three priorities for things to do that day. These are things that will benefit my business, so things like pitching for new work, doing my accounts or finishing that report so I can invoice a client.
- Split your days into chunks
I’m a big fan of splitting my day into workable chunks. At the moment, with the delights of pregnancy and a nice dose of SPD (that’s a pelvis that’s loosened up early thanks to some over-eager hormones), I’m finding that mornings are great for any physical jobs like face-to-face coaching or meetings. By the afternoon my body is out of order but my brain is still going, so I use this time for writing and emails. If you’re in the peak of health, you may find that there are certain times when you work best – perhaps early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes splitting your day into chunks – two hours for writing, two hours for pitching, two hours for admin, one hour for email etc, keeps you focused and on target.
- Work when you’re most effective
As I mentioned in point 4, some people work best at different times. I’m all about the early mornings. 6am-2pm is my zone, with a couple of hours in the evening if needs be. Other people find eight hours after lunch is their perfect time. Unless your clients expect you to work at specific times, the best thing to do is to see what time you naturally wake up – and work with that.
- Eat right!
You know as well as I do that you are what you eat – and if your main meals centre around sugar and refined carbs, you’re probably not going to be firing on all cylinders. Have a peek at Wholeheartedly Healthy for some much better ideas of fun, delicious and easy food you can have at home.
- Take time away
Now, I’m not the best at taking time off. In fact, I have a week off coming up – and there’s a good chance I’ll be doing some blogging and mind mapping. Time off is essential though. If you find time off a struggle, make sure you get some accountability – book lunch with a friend, sign yourself up for a workout, or visit someone a few miles away. You’re more likely to take time off if you have to physically leave the house – and more often than not it will lead to you coming back to your business better than ever.
- Take time to evaluate
Constantly powering through is fine, but you need to take time away to see the big picture. One great way to do this is through speaking to a mentor or a coach who can help you spot any issues that you’re too close to see.
This should be way further up on the list. Outsourcing is a really, really good way to be more productive. It’s easy to get stuck on certain details as a freelancer, which can end up blocking you from really achieving your goals. Outsourcing certain tasks to a VA or on sites like Fiverr.com may be a small initial cost, but the benefits you’ll reap far exceed it.
- Finally, choose your projects wisely
Don’t waste your energy on projects or clients that drain you. Life really is too short, and it will reduce your productivity levels. Choose your projects wisely, learn when to say no to the wrong project and when to listen to your gut.