7 Ways to Bump Up Your Productivity and Start Earning More as a Freelancer

While some people believe you can’t become rich as a freelance writer, I believe the contrary.

I also believe that, as humans, our bodies are capable of doing a lot more than we allow them to. I believe that being able to “hack” your body to make you more productive can mean the difference in you becoming rich as a freelancer, or not. I have been researching ways to become more productive in the past few months. I have also implemented a lot of what I’ve studied. I have been able to increase my income significantly month after month by using some very simple techniques.

The reality is that we freelancers get paid for our time, so it is important to make use of every productivity technique that we can find.

This article lists seven ways you can bump your productivity and start earning more as a writer. But first, I’ll share my story.


My Story

I started blogging around two years ago. I cranked out article after article on my blog. I wrote several guest posts for other blogs. In short, I did a lot to spread the word around about my blog.

Even though I had never really intended to be a freelance writer, exactly eight months after starting my blog I got my first client email. My client wanted a writer for their company, and even though I didn’t intend to be a freelance writer, I loved writing a lot. I think it’s really cool when there is someone willing to pay me for it. I had read articles about freelance writing. I had also read about low paying experiences from other freelance writers, which made me initially indifferent towards freelance writing. I chatted with my client on Skype to ask about his fees. Seeing that his offer was really lucrative, I decided to take on his work.

A few months later, I was already making thousands of dollars monthly as a freelance writer. I was starting to get a lot more client requests. It even got to a stage where I had more clients and writing jobs than I could handle. It was then that I realized one of the harshest truths of freelancing–which is, while it might take some people time to get clients willing to pay them, other people get more than enough clients and more offers than they can handle. Those with too many offers are hardly able to work on them due to lack of time.

Now it’s time for the productivity tips.

Tip #1. Separate Work from Play

In other words, get two laptops.

Not really, but at least, that’s what worked for me.

One major problem the majority of internet users face is that of distractions. We get distracted by all those updates coming up on Twitter and Facebook, the latest newsflash popping up from everywhere, and so on. We find it extremely difficult to resist checking our emails several times a day. While checking your email too frequently might have little to no impact on you if you’re a blogger who depends on passive income, it can cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars every month as a freelancer if you’re not.

A great way to easily eliminate distractions is by separating work from play. How you do this will depend on who you are and what kind of work you do, but for me, the solution was to get two laptops. The first laptop is my main laptop used for general online activities, while the other laptop is only used for my freelance writing activities. In other words, the other laptop doesn’t have the internet installed. It also doesn’t have other applications installed. It only has Microsoft Word, a dictionary, and other writing software installed. What this means is that whenever I’m working on my other laptop, I’m at my highest productivity levels since there isn’t a single thing to distract me from my writing.

You will find it extremely easy to get things done if you can separate work from play.

Tip #2. Take a Day, or Two, Offline Every Month

I know this sounds ridiculous. After all, what you want is to be able to get more work done, not to take some time off. But you will be amazed at how effective this tip is.

Sometimes, the best productivity tip is not to work at all.

I hardly took time off myself, until recently, when I was forced to be offline for over 24 hours due to my internet connection not being available. It was then that I started calculating how I used every minute of the day, and I started to ask myself what I really have been doing online all the time.

The reality is, a lot of us spend eight to ten hours in front of our computers every day, but we only really work for around one to two hours, or so. By taking time off regularly, you will be able to reflect on how you spend your time online, you will be able to come back online with greater passion and plans. Over time, you will be able to develop a system to help you effectively utilize your time online.

Tip #3. Create a Home Office

If you’re a freelancer like me, there is every probability you spend the most of your time working in your home. With all the noise from those around you, with the distractions you have to experience as a result of all the gadgets and equipment in your home, it may become difficult for you to be productive.

Why not kick yourself back into work mode by treating yourself like you are in the office? Why not create a home office, or rent an office apartment, where you can easily lock yourself up for a particular period during which you only have one option–to work!

The reality is that the key to being more productive is being more organized. You need to have set hours when you only do work, and you have to stick to it at all costs. A great way to do this is by having an office. Since you will be the only one around, there will be no one, or nothing, to distract you. You can easily get whatever you want done.

Tip #4. Don’t Take Breaks

You’ve probably read other productivity tips telling you to take a break every 20 minutes, or so. While I don’t disagree with those tips, this is what has worked best for me.

Instead of taking breaks after every 25 minutes of writing, I work four to five hours, or sometimes seven hours at a stretch. I only take breaks whenever I’m done for the day.

I have experimented with taking breaks every 25 minutes before, but I noticed that it was very easy to get distracted that way. You never know what you will have to face within that 25 minutes break and how much of your time it will take. By working for a longer period, you will be committed to the project you are working on. You will be able to get a lot more done and more quickly than you expected.

Tip #5. Work While Standing

I’m a freelance writer. I produce my best work when I’m in pain, and I produce my worst work when I’m comfortable.

One thing that helps me is to work while standing. There is a kind of pain that comes with working while standing, and that kind of pain makes it extremely easy to remember, and focus on, the task at hand.

Working while standing is extremely easy because of the availability of standing desks. You can also easily build one for yourself if you want.

Tip #6. Outline Your Workday First

Like I said earlier, organization is the key to productivity.

A lot of us freelancers just start work on a project without planning ahead. While some of us already know what project we want to work on for the day, we don’t know which aspect to tackle first and which aspect to tackle last. As a result, we are not as productive as we should be.

By outlining your workday first, you can easily increase your productivity and get more results. It doesn’t matter what kind of freelancing job you do, outlining your work is feasible. If you’re a writer, you should research and get the point for your articles before writing them, instead of writing and researching in the middle of the article. If you’re a designer, you should have a plan on which area of the design to work on, which color to use, and which font will work best–instead of having to think about all those aspects of the design in the middle of your project.

Tip #7. Educate Yourself

I never really knew there was such a thing as a standing desk until this year, when a lot of media sites started to talk about the health dangers of sitting down for a prolonged period of time. I didn’t know about the productivity technique where you work for a few minutes and then take a short break until I read about it online. In other words, I didn’t invent the above techniques, I learned them. You need to do the same.

The above tips represent only a fraction of the productivity tips available online. A lot of people are happy to share their tips with you. The reality is that, while not all the tips you read will work for you, a large percentage of them will help you to get more work done.

One of the best ways to become more productive is by educating yourself. Read productivity books, blogs, articles and magazines. Get in touch with productivity experts for their tips, and above all, implement every tip you come across and drop the ones that aren’t working for you.

Your Turn

What are your productivity tips? Share them in the comments.

Image by suehixson

Comments

  1. says

    Hey Onibalusi,

    What an awesome post, buddy. These are good points to bump up your productivity.
    I really like your Tip #4. “Don’t Take Breaks” – Greattt !!

    Thanks for sharing this great article, oni.

  2. says

    Great tips Oni, I agree that taking time away from your computer can be productive. Two days ago I was extremely distracted and was having horrible writer’s block. I decided I couldn’t stare into the monitor of my computer any more and I went outside. I sat under a tree and did writing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Miraculously the writer’s block was gone, it was liberating : )

  3. says

    @Dev Aha, I’m glad you love the point! I find myself more focused and productive when not taking breaks during work compared to taking breaks.

    @Karla I totally agree with you on that! Having enough offline time has its magic, and I think it is one of the best ways for writers to be productive.

  4. says

    Good points Onibalusi.

    Finding a writing ‘buddy’ also helps. When you get into a rut, they you pull you out.

    And you can do the same for them.

    …and you can possible land larger clients if you pool your resources together.

    Anna

  5. says

    Another great post Oni,

    Hats off to you dear, your writing & your research both are marvelous. I must say your article’s have something in them which force me to read completely.

    My field (Graphic Designing) is a bit different from yours (writing) but i agree on the point you have said in your article – not to take break! I too spend 4 to 5 hours continually in my work and leaves only when it get’s completed.

    Thank you so much my friend for sharing such an awesome post.

  6. says

    Without a doubt, these tips are worth trying. I’ll try writing while standing because I will be buying a laptop soon.

    I hope to read more of your article on Freelance Folder Oni.

  7. Jennifer says

    Great tips! I have found that managing my freelance writing must be done just as any other business is run. That includes keeping a flexible-but-strict calendar, into which I book writing tasks as I am hired to complete them. That way, I have an organized framework for my day which can begin as soon as I am at my pc and which gives me an indication of how long my day will last.

  8. says

    Breaks are weird … take em or don’t take em.

    I find breaks work when I’m unable to get going or unfocused, distracted or tired – but it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you need a break, when you really just need to relax and get going.

    The best thing is when you’re focused on a top project, are absorbed in it, and moving along with it at a nice pace – and enjoying it.

    An article/post on “How do You Get Maximum Productivity Action” would be good to start.

    ;)

    Kenn Schroder
    GetWebDesignClients.com


    Web Designers: 8 Mistakes that Stop You from Getting Clients

  9. says

    Such an awesome article! 10 minutes is pretty low time to spend here! Already bookmarked this site for my friends and I’m getting back ASAP when it seems very beneficial extremely helpful.

  10. Jessica says

    Great, helpful article. I will be forwarding this to my accountability group! Also, if you have dogs, (I have two) they pretty much require you to take breaks, but I am usually itching to get back to work after!

  11. says

    Hi Onibalusi

    Congratulations on a well written blog. What a talented young man you are.

    I find writing in 40 minute chunks works for me. Then I do something else for 20 minutes and return to the writing for another 40 minutes. Academic research shows the brain finds it hard to concentrate for more than 40 minutes at a time and it’s good for your eyesight to look away from the computer regularly.

    I always make telephone calls standing up. There’s something about a standing position that gives the voice-box more depth and you feel in control standing, rather than sitting.

    Look forward to hearing more from you.

    Penelope

  12. says

    Sounds great but as well as I think 40 minutes is fit time to write an superb post. I’ll be following you by try to write an article with 40 minutes.

    Great informative post Young :-)

  13. says

    I totally agree with this article and it seems almost as if you took a page out of my freelance productivity book (but that’s impossible because it’s only printed in my brain!). While I haven’t worked while standing, I do enjoy replacing my desk chair with an exercise ball. I sit on the exercise ball while I write, answer emails, tweet, or engage in administrative tasks at my desk. The muscle groups used to balance on the exercise ball and properly execute the other tasks keep my muscles at the ready for my exercise at the end of the day (I exercise in the morning too). I don’t think i could type standing up unless I had some sort of podium or stand for my keyboard. I read somewhere that Hemingway often typed standing up… I suppose I need to educate myself a bit more on this one.

  14. says

    Great post.

    I totally agree on 5-7 hours non-stop work. Well maybe little less or more, depends on the person and the work that you do. At least it works for me as a freelance programmer/web site developer too.

    Another advice that works for me at least, is to create a deadline. It is hard to create an imaginary deadline for the project and imagine that it is real. But when i do have a real deadline and i’m nearing it, i find myself working with above average productivity for 8-10 hours straight on some days. Maybe it’s the fear of not creating a project in time, or the rush that get’s me going, ether way i get things done much faster.

  15. says

    All great points Oni, if you can afford to have the home office and the “play” office separated, that is key. Only keep work related stuff in your home office desk and PC and you’ll probably get a lot more done and be more focused.

  16. says

    This is by far the most helpful productivity article I have read in a long time. Many of your suggestions are ones I haven’t heard before, at least not presented in the same way, no matter how many articles I’ve read. The idea of an entirely separate work and home laptop is interesting, and could easily be replicated in a number of ways for those unwilling to buy a new computer, such as configuring a new user account on the machine. I’m intrigued by the standing desk concept, as well. How long do you find you can comfortably work that way?

  17. says

    @Penelope Thanks so much for the feedback on the article, and many thanks to Laura for making it possible! I love your point about the 40 minutes break, I even read something similar to it somewhere before. I think it’s great that you’re doing what works for you!

    I also think you have a great point with standing up while making calls. I mean, your point about standing up giving you more control. I also notice it is the same for me when I write writing. I feel more in control when I stand up and write.

    @Samantha Aha, I’m glad to hear it’s only printed in your brain…lol! Exercising definitely has its benefits, and I’m working on improving myself and having a fixed schedule for exercising.

    @Gregor I’m glad to see I’m not alone when it comes to working for a long time without taking breaks…I guess it has its magic!

    @Jamie I think that’s the key. In fact, it is currently my best tip in this article. Separating play from work can make a huge difference in what you’re able to achieve.

  18. says

    @Ali I’m so excited to hear that this article is the best have read on the subject. I love your idea about having separate accounts on your computer, and I think that can be very cost effective!

    Concerning standing while working, I can stand for close to 6-7 hours using this approach, but for health reasons, I ensure I don’t stand for more than 3 hours without taking a break.

  19. says

    wow really impressed with this article… “while it might take some people time to get clients willing to pay them, other people get more than enough clients and more offers than they can handle. Those with too many offers are hardly able to work on them due to lack of time.” Love this point and idea about standing desk..already starting to find one…

    I must repeat this is the best article i have come across..Good work Oni

  20. says

    Hey Onibalusi,
    You really stole my words Man :). The tip that you have given in your article are really great.

    Working in a stretch of 4-7 hours may not be possible for everyone though. I prefer taking a break after working for a couple of hours.

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