Productivity tips for freelancers
Freelancers often face the same struggles as everyone else. They need to stay productive and efficient, even when working from home. The biggest issue is that they don’t have a boss or coworkers to keep them accountable, so it’s up to you to find ways of motivating yourself.
What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and is not tied to any one employer. They are usually hired for short-term projects, or to do a one-time job. Freelancers can be writers, graphic designers, web developers, or any other profession that can be done remotely. The advantage to being a freelancer is the freedom it gives you to work from home, set your own hours, and choose your own clients.
Here are ten time management and productivity tips for freelancers who work at home:
1 ~ Find a time management system that works for you.
It could be a Pomodoro timer, the Eisenhower Matrix, or another time management system that works for you. Search for “time management systems,” and you’ll find several to try.
On average, I spend about two hours on my projects and then work in an admin hour, such as research related to other articles/projects like this one. I plan my day accordingly and keep an eye on the tasks that will take longer than 40 minutes to complete.
2 ~ Write down all the things that distract you before starting your work, so they don’t distract you while working.
Distractions kill your productivity because they’re time-consuming and can keep you from doing important tasks.
Conversely, write down everything that makes your work more efficient, so you get even better at getting tasks completed quickly!
For instance, I removed all of my notifications on Slack. I did this to avoid being distracted by people asking me questions or commenting when I’m working on a time-sensitive project. I also make it a habit to ignore notable time-wasters like other notifications on my smartphone. I make sure they don’t distract me while working on projects with tight deadlines!
3 ~ Plan your day the night before.
This sounds simple, and it is simple indeed. When I plan the day the night before, I prioritize and avoid getting overwhelmed when I hit a roadblock.
My planning includes:
- jotting down my top priority tasks? (what can I do in one hour or less?)
- is there anything that needs more than an hour to finish?
- do I have to consider taking time out of my schedule for personal needs, family needs, or other obligations (kids, pets)?
4 ~ Set your priorities each day
Prioritize the tasks on your list by importance and urgency. It has helped me personally to look at tasks and ask myself the question. Are they important? Are they urgent?
Prioritizing by importance helps me focus on the tasks that will make a substantial difference in my business and help me stay motivated. Of course, my priorities can be different every day. But I always have one or two top priorities (email correspondence with major clients; marketing campaigns). It’s also helpful for freelancers like me to focus on doing the right things instead of doing things efficiently.
That means it’s essential to take care of less urgent tasks but still necessary like filing taxes or updating a website.
The best way I’ve found for myself is using the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix is a valuable tool to prioritize tasks in your life; I use it for work and personal projects.
The Eisenhower Matrix provides a systematic approach that helps us decide what is most important; we then know how much time we should spend on each task or goal (high importance-low urgency).
5 ~ Keep a to-do list of all your tasks and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Set deadlines for each task, then break them down into manageable time slices. This will help you stay productive and not overwhelmed by the enormity or length of tasks.
What is freelance work?
Freelance work is work that is done outside of a traditional employment setting.
Freelance work is a great way to earn extra money or to transition to self-employment.
There are many different types of freelance work, some of which are more profitable than others.
When you visit platforms like Fiverr or Upwork you can get a good impression of what kind of freelance jobs are asked for and offered.
6 ~ Use the Pomodoro technique of working in 25-minute intervals followed by 5-minute breaks.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. The name comes from the Italian word Pomodoro, meaning “tomato.” The word was inspired by how tomato plants grow and how they are pruned in an orderly pattern. The Pomodoro brings this orderly pattern (the interval schedule) to your workday or project planning. These regular time intervals help me keep my focus.
I have a Pomodoro installed on my computer. This is a simple way for me to control the intervals of time I set aside, and it keeps reminding me that distractions are not always bad (although I should limit them).
Let’s imagine you’ve got your work planned with tasks like:
- Emailing clients.
- Answering a client’s questions about what needs to be done next in their project.
- Making a blog post outline.
After working on these chores for 25 minutes, it might be fun to stretch your feet, check some social media before returning for the next Pomodoro.
If you keep the time you spend on distractions limited to 5 minutes, these interruptions won’t lead you astray!
7 ~ Set aside time for Email management, WhatsApp management, Slack management, etcetera.
Don’t let it take over your day. If you give in to the temptation to check these apps once too often, it could lead to a lot of time being wasted.
For example, if you’re on Slack and see the latest updates from your friends or check what’s going on with other people who are also waiting for replies- don’t get into chats that take too long because this will hinder productivity!
It can be good, though, when we only return to them after working 25 minutes at a time, as mentioned before. I am strict about these rules, so I’m not distracted by my phone while working.
It was distracting me enough already just seeing notifications come through all day!!
8 ~ Keep track of what tasks you’ve completed throughout the day.
Keeping track reminds you how much you have already done and helps motivate you to keep going!
In a notebook or on your phone, write down what tasks you have completed and how long they took. This will help with time management because we can see where our day has gone so far regarding work/productivity.
____ hours total today:?
More productivity tips for freelancers:
9 ~ Use an app like RescueTime to help you track how much time you’re spending on different activities.
If you are not fond of jotting things down manually, a program like Rescue Time is a great way to track how you’re spending your time.
It tracks what apps and programs on the computer you are using, so it’s easy for me as a freelancer with no employees to keep track of. If I don’t, I sometimes do not know what kept me busy all day! Rescue Time is beneficial! It helps me with productivity because I can see exactly how my working day looks on one screen. I’d rather do that than manually keep track of all these numbers in a notebook.
10 ~ Schedule blocks of time for the most important tasks on your calendar.
A to-do list is necessary, but it also makes sense to schedule blocks of time in a calendar for important tasks that you have to complete.
The best thing about using a calendar is that you can both look back and a week ahead to see what you have accomplished and what is still in store for you. It also helps me feel more organized because I can see everything laid out before my eyes!
It’s a great way to motivate myself on days where not much needs to be done – so then, if something pops up suddenly, I’ll instantly know when I can go to work by just looking at my calendar and searching for an empty spot.
11 ~ Create an environment conducive to productivity: noise-canceling headphones, comfortable chairs, desk lamps, etc.
This advice may sound self-evident, but it is surprising how many people will work from home or a coffee shop and not consider the environment they’re sitting in.
I like putting on noise-canceling headphones, so it feels like I’m getting into my little world of creativity as well (and also because outside noises are distracting!). Invest in top-quality ergonomic chairs rather than just sitting where ever possible? Because as a freelancer working from home, pay better attention to your working environment and the tools you work with.
Examples of jobs offered by freelancers.
Freelance writing jobs.
Freelance web design jobs.
Freelance graphics design jobs.
Freelance audio editing jobs.
Freelance video editing jobs.
12 ~ Establish a routine for how you work best (i.e., listening to music while working).
Everybody differs when it comes down to establishing favorite routines.
It’s essential to find a routine that works best. If you’re unsure what will work efficient and effective, experiment with different routines until one sticks out. But don’t forget about your break time! A good plan would be doing something physical every morning or before lunch, like walking outdoors.
When I walk around my block, I use this opportunity to listen to some podcasts or YouTube videos. It relaxes me, and sometimes I even learn a trick or two. A nice healthy snack, later on, helps me get back into writing mode.
There are many opinions when it comes down to deciding how many working hours a day should have, but over 6 hours seems too excessive for me. In my case, it often leads to compromising on quality. And that is not something I’d not go for.
13 ~ Make sure you have enough sleep every night to stay focused and productive during the day.
Fortunately, sleep is getting a more prominent place on people’s agenda. I make sure I sleep for a minimum of 7 hours. Preferably more.
14 ~ Productivity tips for freelancers. Hire a virtual assistant.
I recommend hiring somebody to help take care of your administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and managing email inboxes. For example, it doesn’t distract from the work at hand (and cost you your precious time). This way also ensures more focus on what you need: getting important stuff done!
You may also enjoy reading 7 Ways To Overcome Procrastination
14 ~ Use productivity apps to increase productivity and up your freelance business.
Freelancers have to juggle many balls – from bidding on projects to delivering quality work on time to marketing their services. So it’s no wonder that many freelancers feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Thankfully, several productivity apps can help ease the burden. Using these apps can increase your productivity and up your freelance business.
We’ve compiled a list of the best productivity apps for freelancers, so you can get back to working on your business instead of looking for tools to help you do so.
Apps like Evernote, Trello, Todoist, and Slack are all great tools for anyone who needs to be more productive while working remotely. These tools will help you stay organized and on task while also making it easier to collaborate with other freelancers or employees.
Evernote: How to use Evernote to take notes and stay organized? Learn how to make better decisions by taking note of everything happening in your life. You can even create an agenda for yourself and set reminders about upcoming tasks. This app is perfect if you need to keep track of what you have done throughout the day. It has a free version as well as paid plans. If this isn’t enough for you, there’s always Google Keep which offers similar features but doesn’t require any subscription fees.
Trello: how to use it to create to-do lists and track progress? Trello is great for organizing projects into different boards with due dates and assigning them to your team members so they can work on them together. The best part is that when something gets completed or finished, you get notified via email! You can also add images, videos, documents, etc., making it easy to collaborate on tasks.
Slack: how to use it to communicate with coworkers? Slack is a messaging app where users can chat in real-time about anything from project updates to personal conversations. It’s free up to 100 messages per month, after which the price increases.
Todoist: I will conclude this paragraph and article on productivity tips for freelancers by mentioning Todoist. It may be one of my favorite productivity apps. With Todoist I have succeeded to manage my working hours better, increase productivity and lift my freelance business to a higher level. Todoist is a simple but powerful tool for managing your tasks in an organized way that helps you get things done faster. It also has some great features like task delegation, time tracking, project management, reminders etc.
Productivity Tips for Freelancers
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