18 Simple Ways To Be More Productive As A Freelancer
It can be tough to keep momentum when facing a mountain of work as a freelancer. And even when you start building momentum, you’re probably still wondering how to be more productive. Moving an inch a day is technically momentum, but it’s not like you’ll get anywhere. Sometimes, it feels like no matter how productive you get, some big task comes in and wipes away your day. Other times there are struggles deciding where to start, what to finish first, and how to manage your time. Luckily there are plenty of ways to help overcome these scenarios – that is, ways to be more productive. We’ve rounded up several tips and tricks from freelancers and entrepreneurs that will keep the momentum going even when there’s too much work to do.
Do something you enjoy beforehand
A great way to kickstart your productivity is doing something you enjoy. For instance, try taking up your favorite hobby before work. It can help prepare your mind for the day and improve your mood. Or even just meditate, breathing into the day instead of rushing. When you do things you actually like, it can help you get the day going (and continuing) well.
Pump yourself up with music
Music is a divisive subject in regards to productivity. Some people love it, some hate it. But it could be exactly what you need to get yourself in the right headspace. Research has found that when we listen to music, our mind goes into a mode that makes us feel more creative and inspired to work. Getting ourselves in this mode can make all the difference with staying productive.
When we’re faced with what seems like an endless amount of work, our brains can feel overloaded. One way to refresh when we’ve lost it is by reading a book. Reading is one of the most effective ways to exercise your mind. It helps with expanding knowledge, providing mental stimulation, and improving focus. Having stronger reading skills can even improve your ability to pay attention.
Ignore the mountain of work
We’ve all reached a point where we’ve compared our work to something as difficult as climbing a mountain. Making our tasks feel like something they’re not, not only overwhelms us, but discourages us from even starting. If you’re wondering how to be more productive, start by erasing these thoughts. When we begin to forget that there’s a mountain in the first place, tasks look much less challenging, and we can feel less anxious about what’s in front of us.
Don’t think about anything else – just do it
“Paralysis by analysis” is a common pitfall when we’re trying to be more productive while working. Sometimes there’s that one small detail that just bugs us so much more than it should. Taking a step back from the small things, and focusing on the bigger picture can help us get back on track to our work. While small details can be important, they can often be addressed later on (when you’ve already completed a bunch of other stuff).
Don’t pay attention to the clock
Time management is one of most valuable skills to have as a freelancer, but sometimes, we get a little too obsessed with paying attention to the clock. When we’re too fixated on what time it is, we tend to look for things to make it go by as fast as possible. For some of us, it can also be discouraging to use time as a measure of productivity. It makes you think more about how much work you didn’t finish, and how unproductive you were.
Take care of your physical well-being
Freelancers have a potentially unique problem in the working world: there’s almost never a scheduled break to eat. In an office environment, everyone starts trickling to lunch around noon (ish) and you can follow the flow. That’s not going to happen as a freelancer. That means you need to figure out your own diet. Study after study shows that diet affects how we work. Make sure you’ve paid attention not just to what you eat (yes, yes, “eat right”) but also ensuring you have food throughout the day to keep your body going.
Something we might also neglect is staying hydrated. Drinking enough water makes a big difference in productivity because it helps decrease fatigue, according to a Harvard Business Review study. And when you’re less dehydrated, you’re more likely to have the energy to be more productive. Always make sure to keep a bottle of water at your desk, and your body will thank you.
Getting the right amount of sleep
If you’re wondering how to be more productive as a freelancer, sleep on it. Literally. Getting the optimal amount of sleep can boost work productivity, but it’s another thing we tend to neglect. Losing sleep to make up for lost work is something that we’ve all been through. But reversing this pattern can make a big difference when it comes to staying productive. Not only is getting enough sleep great for keeping momentum going, it can reduce your risks of infections, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain.
Warming up the body with exercise
Several studies found that exercise before work boosts productivity. Simple workouts like running, stretching or lifting weights can bring out several hormones which are beneficial for keeping momentum going. Exercise improves your physical well-being which is valuable when you’re learning how to be more productive. Even working out just ten minutes can offer significant health benefits.
Be prepared beforehand
As freelancers, there can be days when work feels too routine, and we start to get too sluggish with our effort. This can cause some of us to come into work unprepared. Starting a workday with the necessary tools, mindset and knowledge is one of most productive things you can do. Taking the extra step to prepare helps set everything in motion, and work will feel much more comfortable when you come prepared.
Turn off all distractions
With a large number of freelancers working remotely, there’s no shortage of potential distractions. Whether it be family members, roommates, and our devices, it can be really easy to cave in. As humans, we love to be connected, but don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones or roommates that you don’t want to be disturbed. Putting your phone in another room, turning off notifications, and limiting access to social media websites can also be a major help.
Optimize to-do lists
Writing out lists can be an effective starting point for figuring out how to be more productive as a freelancer. They’re flexible reference points that provide structure, and organize our tasks, so we can plan more efficiently. Lists can break down large tasks into smaller ones, and each time you complete something, it can feel like a load off your shoulders.
Use an app
While some freelancers might prefer to write down their plans, there are plenty of tools we can download on our devices that can do the job more efficiently. Many of them come free of charge, and tackle just about anything – productivity, exercise, time management, and organization. There are hundreds of options, and it’s easy to find one that fits your needs. Just be sure to turn on airplane mode while you’re working!
The Pomodoro technique
There are several variations of time management tools, but one of the most popular is the pomodoro technique. This method involves breaking your work day into 25-minute intervals, separated by five-minute breaks. Each interval is called a ‘pomodoro.’ After four of them, you take a longer break before starting again. The technique helps instill a sense of urgency in one’s work, while also breaking down larger jobs into small pieces. The technique can give you a better sense of how to use time more efficiently, which is important for productivity.
Find motivation in others
One of the best feelings a freelancer can get is receiving gratification for their work. Whether it be from our clients, people we look up to, or peers, it can make a huge difference in motivating us to stay productive. Having that support in the background gives us that extra push to stay focused, and it gives us something to look forward to. Be sure to get in the habit of accepting these compliments too!
Look around you for inspiration or ideas
While you’re thanking your peers for their kind words, why not ask them for their favourite ways to stay productive while working? Asking the people around you what works for them makes you more inclined to try them out. You not only get something to talk about, but you might also find that one strategy that sticks.
There’s not one method that can solve everybody’s productivity issues, but the important thing is finding the right combination that works for you. It might take time, but once you find it, work starts to feel a whole lot less stressful.