5 Productivity Tips for Freelancers

Having trouble getting it done? Here are a few productivity tips for freelancers.

One of the challenges of being a freelancer is that it is too easy to get distracted sometimes. I have some friends on Skype and other chat applications, and it's really easy to just get caught up in a conversation. And, of course, a quick trip to Facebook can quickly degenerate into an hour of wasted time.

Productivity is essential to success as a freelancer and one of those things you need to be able to “turn on” if you want your home business to thrive. If you are having productivity issues, here are some ideas for taking it up a notch:

1. Work When You Are Most Motivated

By the early afternoon, I'm slowing down a lot. I'm not as motivated, and I'm not as fresh. As a result, I try to do as much as I can in the morning. I work more efficiently earlier in the day. It's about waking up and working as quickly as I can. During the summer, working earlier in the day is helpful because my son is more inclined to play on his own. I can get more done before the activities start.

My husband does his best work at night, though. That's when he feels more alert and productive; he feels sluggish and unmotivated in the mornings. Assess your own preferences, and then try to do the bulk of your work when you are at your best.

2. Schedule Social Media Time

Instead of checking your Twitter and your Facebook all the time, be careful about when you do it. Schedule in time to check your social media. I have specific times that I use to check my social media. If it's not those times, I don't check.

The same rule can be used for checking email, as well as for completing other tasks that you might engage in. Think about what is proving to be a time suck, and relegate that to specific times of the day. Block out a chunk of time related to that activity, and work the rest of the time.

Sometimes, I just have to turn things off. I'll shut down Skype to avoid getting drawn into interesting conversations, or I'll close my email so that I'm not distracted by the latest in my inbox. Gmail's Priority Inbox has actually been a big help in this area since the unimportant stuff just adds up without me even realizing it, and I can do a quick check to see how important the “priority” is.

3. Take Breaks

Maybe you can schedule your social media time or your Internet surfing time for breaks. Taking a break can be a great way to stay productive. I often take breaks when I reach a specific point in my morning workload. Knowing that I won't take a break until certain things are done has been quite helpful in encouraging me to kick into high gear.

On top of that, a break can help you refocus your efforts and improve your overall performance. I take about 45 minutes for lunch when I eat something I like and read a chapter or two in a book. A little refreshment can go a long way. I'm also a big fan of five-minute meditations to help me re-energize and re-focus.

4. Say No

Sometimes, you just need to say no. One of the problems I ran into a few months ago was an over-crowded schedule. From things I agreed to do outside of work to the huge workload I had, I was overwhelmed, tired, and sick more than I should have been.

And I suffered from overload. When that happens, you have so much stuff that you don't know where to start. There were days that I just looked at my workload, despaired, and distracted myself through mindless online surfing. It's hard to be productive when you are so overwhelmed that you experience mental paralysis.

Be realistic about your abilities, and learn to say no when it doesn't make sense for you to take on even more. You don't want to end up in an unproductive stupor.

5. Outsource Some Tasks

If there are tasks that don't really require your personal attention, it is worth it to outsource them in many cases. One of the keys to running an effective freelance home business is to know when to outsource.

I recently started outsourcing my social media submissions. I don't like submitting to social media anyway, and it was taking up between 45 and 60 minutes each day. So I now pay someone to make those social media submissions. My productivity has improved by quite a bit, and I make more in that hour than I pay my virtual assistant. It works out well, and I get more of the important stuff done.

What are some of your best productivity tips?

0 thoughts on “5 Productivity Tips for Freelancers”

  1. Paul @ The Frugal Toad

    I sometimes find myself having too many tabs/windows open and can get distracted. I have been trying to limit myself to no more than 4 sessions open at once, that forces me to focus on the task at hand before moving on to something else.

  2. Skint in the City

    Thanks so much for these tips. Great food for thought. I especially lkike the idea of limited social media time and outsourcing social media submissions. I’ve just started outsourcing a couple of nig jobs, a site transfer and a cover design for an e-book – both of which I’d struggled with on my own for ages. The money I spent on outsourcing wasn’t much at all compared to the effort it would have taken me to finish the jobs. You’ve got to play to your strengths – and mine isn’t really the techy stuff!

  3. Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    Hi Miranda–This post really resonates with me! As much as it’s considered a forbidden term in connection with work-at-home, you do have to set something like a nine-to-five schedule. Not that is has to be those hours, but you have to block out periods of high productivity otherwise they won’t happen.

    A few years back, a motivational speaker named Irene Kasorla called it “sitting down power”–disciplining yourself to sit at your desk, computer, etc, to get the most important job(s) done. I think that’s the key to the whole process. Yes, working at home brings a certain amount of freedom, but discipline is the price we have to pay to get there.

    I’m still working on it;-)

    1. Miranda Marquit

      That’s so true! I try to block out work time each day, adhering to my list of most important items to get done first. Sometimes I get distracted and fall behind, but I try 🙂

  4. I really need to take some of your advice. These are things I tell myself to do all the time, I just never seem to stick to it. Especially the saying NO part. I have a hard time passing up any freelance opportunity.

    I’m just now starting to look into outsourcing and finding help from a VA. I’m so much of a control freak, it’s been hard to give any of the control up. But now I feel it’s hurting my business since I can’t continue to grow.

    1. Miranda Marquit

      There’s only so much you can do, so it is important to recognize when to outsource. If not, you end up on the fast track to burn out.

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