Productivity is just one of those qualities that we all yearn for. As freelancers we have to be productive in order to get projects done before the deadline approaches. The more productive we can be, the more money we earn — it’s a simple equation.
We’re all productive to a certain extent, but there are always a few things that we know but often fail to apply. Of the many things I’ve tried to boost my productivity, some have failed and some have worked wonders.
The ten tips that you are about to read are the ones that I practice regularly in order to keep my business going. Some of you may already practice these and, if you don’t, I hope this post serves as a productivity-boosting reminder.
10 Productivity Ideas That Work:
- Break It Up – We all want bigger projects, but with bigger projects comes more responsibilities and more work. It’s easy to accidentally take on way too much work, and before you know it you’re overwhelmed by a seemingly impossible number of things to do. Instead of getting lost and unproductive, try to break up each project in smaller parts, and finish one project before starting the next. This way your work is much more organized, and putting everything together at the end is much easier.
- Pump Yourself Up – Although this might sound cheesy, it seriously works. If you are finding it hard to devote time to a project, simply start giving yourself a little pep-talk. Learn what it takes to motivate yourself, and make sure to apply it whenever you need that extra boost. Whether it’s the reputation that comes with the completion of a project, the cash in the bank from the final payment, or a long term picture of success — remind yourself of the goals you are shooting for.
- Fly In a Trap – When it comes to sticking to a routine, think of yourself as a trapped fly. Many freelancers work from home and at times it’s tempting to do the more enjoyable things even if there is a lot of work to do. As we all know, procrastination can easily overcome us freelancers. Create a routine and stick to it like a fly stuck in a trap. It will help create a pattern in terms of both work and leisure.
- Work Isn’t Going Anywhere – I have heard freelancers say time after time, “I’ve been sitting here trying to figure this out for hours.” Well, that’s why it’s not working. If you are stuck on something then try taking a quick break. Go for a cup of coffee, a short walk to the park, or just sit on the deck and relax. Your work will be there when you return, the only thing that will be different is the fact that you will have a refreshed brain to think with.
- There Is Only One — We freelancers are bloggers, designers, marketers, web socialites and many other things. At times it’s hard to fit in all the aspects of our work, and it’s easy to go way overboard with multitasking. You might be writing a blog post, using twitter, and trying to do client work at the same time. You might get one thing rolling but then get interrupted by an email. You could easily get sucked into a conversation on twitter and work falls behind. Try to eliminate this harmful multitasking as long as it’s not a must. Focus on one thing at a time as much as possible, and eliminate other distractions.
- 11:30 AM and am Done – Can you imagine getting your work done by 11:00 AM in the morning? Well, although this doesn’t happen often, I have had those moments — and boy it feels good to be done before the day is halfway through. I am a night person but every so often, I hit the sack early and start my day 5 AM in the morning. I grab my laptop, sit out on the deck, listen to birds and feel the breeze and keep plugging in. It’s actually very relaxing and the morning air has something that just inspires you to get things done. Try it out and see how it works for you.
- Those Handy Little Slips — Yes, I am talking about those little pieces of paper that everyone else talks about when they write a productivity article — To-Do Lists! Although it is one of the most talked about tips when it comes to getting things done, many still fail to make a to-do-list, and they really are surprisingly effective. You can get a lot more done if you know exactly what the goal is for the day. Make a habit of adding 10 more minutes at the end of work day to create a to-do list for the next day. You will find things going much more smoothly with help from this handy little slip. I know you’ve probably tried it before, but do you stick with it? If you don’t, do it for two weeks, and I bet you will find a drastic change on how you get things done.
- You’re Only Human — At times we expect too much out of ourselves. We try to make everything perfect and although it’s not a bad thing, it is a huge stress factor. While trying to perfect something beyond “perfection” we sometimes end up procrastinating. For example, you might be working on a design and choose to let the deadline slip and finish it up the next day, hoping it will turn out better. Well, in most cases it won’t. Perfectionism will quickly lead to procrastination. Besides, what might not be perfect for you may be one of the best things that someone else has ever seen. When looking at your work, keep in mind what your client wants and what you have created. Perfection isn’t always the answer. We are only human and trying for perfection on every project might be pushing it.
- Hammer The Toughest Nail First — Usually we like to knock the easy stuff out. Personally, I think this is a wrong approach. If we end up finishing the easy task first, it still gives us a sense of completion. We end up procrastinating and when we get to the tough part the day keeps dragging onward. Frustration and stress makes it even worse. After a good night sleep it’s best to hammer the toughest nail first. Get a head start by completing the worst task first and slowly make a transition into easy ones, you’ll feel great to have completed so many things by the end of the day.
- You Live in the 18th century – Okay, not really. However, sometimes thinking that way can help you boost productivity by ten fold. Imagine not having to worry about email, twitter, facebook and other distractions that suck us deep into the interwebs. It sure would be nice. Of course, we need computers and modern technology to get things done — but sometimes a paper, pencil, and nature can do more than any amount of technology. Try going computer-less for a couple hours each day. If you are a designer, use a sketchpad to sketch out your ideas. If you’re a writer, write key points that will help you create a killer post. This tip can really work wonders for your productivity.
Do You Know Any Interesting Productivity Tips?
These are some of the productivity rules I try to follow to keep my freelance business going strong. Let’s carry the discussion in the comments section and help each other out with some more tips and ideas.