5 Essential Ways To Turbo-Charge Your Productivity

“I could earn so much more [insert high dollar amount here], if only I could manage to get more work done in a day.”

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve probably had exactly the same thought.

Often, the amount of work that I theoretically could produce is not the same as the amount of work that I actually produce. The gap between ideal productivity and actual productivity hurts – right in my pocketbook, because less completed work translates to lower pay.

Here are five ways that you can turbo-charge your productivity:

Get Started!

If we freelancers were really honest with ourselves, then we’d have to admit that a lot of work doesn’t get done quickly because we put off starting it. Sometimes it seems easier (or more interesting) to check our e-mail again for the umpteenth time, to read our favorite blog, or watch another video on YouTube.

Remember, procrastination kills productivity. Don’t procrastinate. Get your work started promptly and you will have won over half of your battle against wasted time and inefficient work habits.

Tackle The Tough Stuff First

Your gut is probably telling you to do exactly the opposite – to avoid doing the tough stuff for as long as you possibly can. In fact, the tough stuff may be part of the reason that you’ve been putting work off. But, your difficult projects aren’t going to get any easier if you wait.

In fact, they may actually become more difficult when time pressure also becomes an issue. Why not dive right into your most difficult project and get it out of the way? The rest of your day should be a breeze after you finish your most challenging project.

Know Your Productivity Cycle

Some people only do their very best work after midnight. Others are most productive at the “crack” of dawn. Still others work best after lunch. Everyone has a time of the day when they do their best work. Find out when you do your best work and schedule your projects to take advantage of your natural productivity cycle.

One of the key benefits to being a freelancer is that you can work any time of the day or night, yet a surprising number of freelancers still try to fit their work hours into the eight-to-five corporate mold.

Get Organized (Or at least find a system that works for you)

Organization really does save time. Now, by organization, I don’t mean that that your office has to look like a showroom or pass some “white glove” inspection for neatness. What I do mean is that should be able to readily access your work files and records.

For me that meant getting a bookcase with a “cubby” for each project. Regardless of the organizational system that you use, you’ll save time if you can go right to a file or folder when you need it (and you’ll sleep easier knowing that nothing is missing).

Take A Walk

I first discovered the problem-solving properties of walks many years ago when I was working in a corporate environment. I had spent most of the morning stumped by a particularly difficult problem. Suddenly, I was summoned to a meeting with one of my bosses on the other side of the large building where we worked.

I walked over there as quickly as I could. On my walk back to my cubicle the solution to the problem that I had been wrestling with all morning just popped into my head. Just like that I had solved the problem. So, walk. It’s good for you too.

Now that you have these five essential productivity tips, what’s holding you back?
Go ahead. Do it. Turbo-charge your productivity today!

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Comments

  1. Derek says

    I’ve only recently become aware of the possibility and viability of freelancing. In these initial planning stages I can say that I’m having huge problems trying to get organized, mainly because I don’t know what needs organizing or how it needs to be organized yet.

    But tackling the tough stuff first, wow. I’m not sure I’ll ever get that down perfectly. I’d say if I did, I’d likely become a great freelancer.

  2. says

    Great suggestions, Laura. I’m on my 2nd week as a full time freelancer, and am taking these first few weeks to really get things organized, setup a schedule, etc.

    I’m doing some experimenting as to my work hours- a big chunk of it is during “normal” working hours – but there are 2-3 hours that I’ve been testing out working at the “crack” of dawn vs working late night. On one end, I love what I do so much that I sometimes can’t wait to get back to work after dinner and a bit of tv. On the other hand, once I get past the block of waking up, I find I actually am most productive in the wee hours of the morning (I often like working from 5-8am while the rest of the house… and clients, LOL… are asleep). I guess it will all depend on what type of work needs to be done – who says you have to work the same schedule every day. ;)

    I also like the suggestion to tackle the tough stuff first. I often like to just knock out the little stuff – I find it to be motivating to see my to do list sometimes cut in half before 9am. But like you say, if I get the tough work out of the way first, the rest of the day will be a breeze. Something else for me to experiment with, and see what works best for me!

  3. says

    Hi Selene and thanks for stopping by!

    Congratulations on making the step to freelancing, I hope that these tips do help you. BTW, feel free to stop back and update us with your progress or leave your own tips.

  4. says

    What an excellent entry, Laura. I find your advice extremly valuable especially since most of your points are lessons I’ve already learned in my career. I started out as a freelance PR and now I own a strong PR company with clients all over the world. The only thing I do differently from what you advise is tackling the tough stuff – I leave that for last, because the easy stuff is not as time consuming. The tough stuff needs total focus, so I cannot let my mind ramble somewhere else. But this is of course just my style. :)

  5. says

    one of my biggest productivity boosts is to tackle the small, quick stuff first. when i see that i’ve knocked out 5 little things, then i feel inspired to tackle the one big thing. plus, i find that my mind feels cluttered knowing 5 little things are waiting for me later, so if i do them first, then i have a clearer head.

  6. says

    Hi Melek!

    I understand that approach (handling the small stuff first), but at least for me it’s too easy to keep on doing the small stuff and put off doing the tough stuff indefinitely.

    Of course, everybody operates differently.

    Keep the comments coming!

  7. says

    Laura,
    I agree with almost everything you say, especially about knowing your productivity cycle. I work best at night and really like the flexibility of freelancing that allows me to work at that time.

    Like Mihaela and Melek, however, I can focus on the tough projects better if I don’t have a lot of little things hanging over my head. If I get the small stuff out of the way, I can really dig into the bigger, tougher projects.

  8. says

    Hi Lillie!

    I guess I must be the one who has the problem with putting off the tough stuff. ;-)

    For me, it’s a huge relief to get the big stuff over with. Once I’ve done that then I can easily finish off all the tough stuff.

    Actually, it might have to do with my productivity cycle too. I’m generally a morning person so handling tough stuff first (when I’m at my peak) makes more sense for me.

    Thanks for giving me food for thought.

  9. says

    It would be great if someone could point me in the direction of any articles, books or whatever that detail organisational strategies for freelancers – particularly writers.

    I like to be organised and feel that I have everything ‘covered’, but I’m finding it challenging to work out a system that tracks work time, job planning and progress, ideas and notes, and yet isn’t time-consuming to keep up (I don’t want to spend more time organising than working!).

  10. says

    Its true, there’s no need for me to check my email as often as i do, as well walks may not seem like work but i too have solved some difficult problems while walking, they just become clear…. somehow.

  11. says

    The hardest part for me is ‘Get Started’. I guess that’s why it’s first on the list. New years resolution anyone?

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