As freelancers, It's true that the amazing benefit of working for ourselves is the freedom to work pretty much anywhere and on our time. However, the reality is that being productive on our own can be super tough.
The internet is full of distractions, pets and kids need to be fed, and our energy waxes and wanes throughout the day. And when we're simply *just not feeling it,* wading through work and trying to hit deadlines can feel like trying to climb Mount Everest.
Not to fear. There's a hack for that. To keep you stay focused and get stuff done, we've rounded up our favorite top productivity hacks for freelancers:
When your head is swirling with a bunch of tasks and deadlines, and you're overwhelmed, you might enter into a state of decision paralysis. Every task seems equally important. To figure out what to prioritize, go by the Eisenhower Matrix. It's essentially a quadrant with four sections:
Important + Urgent: These should take top priority, and do them as soon as you can. This might include working on a deliverable that's due in two days, or scheduling a new client email.
Important + Not Urgent: Schedule these takes for later. For instance, reading that book that could help you polish those design skills, or RVSPing for a virtual networking event.
Not important + Urgent: If possible, delegate these types of tasks. For instance, send an interview to a transcription service, or hire a VA (virtual assistant) to schedule your social media posts.
Not important + Not Urgent: These can go in the "delete" bin. That's right, they can be nixed and forgotten about entirely.
Another tactic to prioritize your to-do list is to figure out the top tasks that must get completed in the next day or two. If you don't complete these tasks, it could create problems, cause you to fall behind, miss deadlines, or create stress or anxiety. For example, do a few mockups for a logo you're designing, or find sources for an article due next week.
On the flip side, think about what tasks can wait until later in the week. If you're feeling particularly ambitious or end up completing your "must-do" tasks early, you can tack these on to the day's workload.
Some of us are night owls, others are early birds. And some are blessed — or cursed — and have the greatest energy and focus in the morning and evenings. For instance, I'm one of these weird early risers who can work best in the early mornings. By early afternoon, my energy wanes and I'm ready for a siesta. So I frontload my workday, and aim to be done by about 2 p.m. each day.
Creating a work schedule around your energy. Doing that instead of adhering to starting your day at 10 am (just because that's what's typical) can help you get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Play around with different schedules and see when you work best. We know that tending to kids, pets, and aging parents will impact your ideal schedule, but see what you can come up with.
You're probably already familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, when you focus on a task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
Tinker around with it to see what work/rest ratio jives best with your flow. For instance, maybe it's a 40/10 split. Or, if you're like, a 50/10 split is most optimal. Apps such as Focus Booster can help you track your productivity to gauge when your focus waxes and wanes.
Sometimes we need someone to keep us accountable. Otherwise, we'll go down the rabbit hole of doom scrolling on Twitter and YouTube cooking tutorials. (We're all guilty of such anti-productivity crimes.) To combat this, schedule a session with a fellow freelancer. It can even be virtual. Then commit to working during that stint of time.
I'm someone who likes and needs variety in my day. And I work best focusing on one task for a few hours, then switching to something else. I get easily bored.
Others are more what I call a Clusterer, they might group their days or larger chunks of time based on types of work. It takes them a little longer to get settled and "in the zone." And once they're in a flow work state, they can work with intense focus for a longer period of time.
So how would you arrange your schedule in a "cluster fashion?" For instance, if you're a freelance writer, Mondays are designated for research, Tuesdays and Tuesdays are for writing, and Thursdays are for interviewing sources for stories and for admin.
What are some of your favorite productivity hacks? Sound off in our Lance Community “toolbox” thread.
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