Top 10 Easy Ways to Squeeze Optimum Productivity from Your Day

Do you need to squeeze more work out of your day?

Well, there’s some good news. By following just a few simple guidelines you can become more productive.

It may surprise you to learn that the answer to optimum productivity is NOT to work more hours each day. Read on to learn some simple guidelines that anyone can follow and start increasing your productivity today.


Ten Guidelines for Optimum Productivity

Do you want to accomplish more? (Well, who doesn’t?)

Most people go about increasing productivity the wrong way. They either try to spend more time working (ultimately wearing themselves out) or put more pressure on themselves (ultimately stressing themselves out).

Try these guidelines for increasing productivity instead:

  1. Take care of the basics. Make sure that you have the right equipment to do the job. Usually this means having at least a working computer, a phone, and an Internet connection. If your specialty requires a specific software package or hardware tool you’ll need that as well.
  2. Know yourself. What are you good at? When do you do your best work? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to answer if you want to be truly productive. Answer these questions and you’ll understand how best to develop and grow your freelancing business.
  3. Know what you have to do. You’ll be much more productive if you already have some experience in your chosen field. You may even need to work for someone else for a short time to get this experience or take classes in your specialty.
  4. Clean up the mess. A cluttered office hinders productivity. How long did you spend looking for that missing paperwork? That’s wasted time! To optimize productivity, take a few minutes each day to keep your office neat. Designate a specific place for items and papers that you use often.
  5. Stay up to date. Are you relying on yesterday’s technology? If you are, you may not be as productive as you could be. Remember how slow your dial-up connection was? Would you ever want to go back to that? I thought not.
  6. Take breaks. A tired, burnt-out freelancer is a less productive freelancer. To keep this from happening to you, schedule regular breaks. At the end of the work day (and I strongly suggest keeping regular hours) put your work aside until the start of the next day.
  7. Start on time. Procrastination is an enemy to productivity. If you work at home and you are a full time freelancer, make sure that you work a full eight hours every day. Don’t put off starting your work day just because you can. Get a good start each day and keep on going.
  8. Strive for Balance. Keep up with friendships, hobbies, and other interests. A productive life is life with a healthy balance between work and personal interests. Sure, there may be times that balance seems unattainable in the short term, but don’t give up. It’s that long term that matters.
  9. Stay calm. It’s normal for things to go wrong from time to time. Not only is this part of freelancing, it’s part of life. Whatever happens to you, stay calm–you’ll be more than halfway to solving your problems if you do.
  10. Move on. Have you had disappointments in your freelancing business? Has someone (perhaps a client, perhaps a partner) treated you wrong? If this is you, you have my sympathies, but don’t dwell endlessly on what’s happened. Take to time acknowledge your disappointment and then move on.

What an Optimized Day Looks Like

What does it look like to have an optimized freelancing business? Picture the following:

It’s 7:00 a.m. and your alarm goes off. It used to be that you would hit the snooze button whenever your alarm went off, but because you’re rested and feeling good you jump out of bed. You go through your morning routing (grooming tasks, clothes, breakfast) and saunter over to your home office.

You glance at your tasks for the day with full confidence that you can get the work done because you haven’t overscheduled yourself. You spend your allotted hour on email and social media and then you move on to client work without becoming distracted.

Just as you are getting started, the phone rings and it’s a client with a question. You’re able to take the call right away because you’re not behind on your work. Also, you know right where that client’s file is because your workspace is neatly organized. (It used to take you between 15 minutes to as much as an hour to find a client file.)

You do your best work in the morning, so you tackle some of your toughest projects. What a boon your computer upgrade last month has been to your business. Your updated system is so much quicker than the three year old computer that you finally retired.

At lunch, you drive to your favorite restaurant (like you do every week) to meet with some of your best friends. You have a really interesting discussion and also agree to get together with them next weekend for the game. Again, you can do this because you know that you are caught up on your work.

After lunch, you check in with your virtual assistant to see how they are doing on the routine maintenance tasks that you assigned to them. What a bargain your VA has turned out to be! You resisted hiring one for such a long time, but now you can focus on the higher paying parts of your projects and leave the dull routine stuff to your VA. After your VA reassures you that everything is going to plan, you return to the project you started this morning.

After a little more than an hour you complete your project and check it over carefully. Satisfied that you met the client’s requirements you turn it in a day early.

You are done with your billable work, but you still have a little more than an hour left in your working day. You log in to the online course that you signed up for last week and spend the next hour brushing up on the latest developments in your field.

Finally, at 5:00 p.m. your work day is done and it is time to head to the gym.

Well, you get the picture of what an ideal day just might look like. Is this all a pipe dream?

No, I really don’t think it is. As a matter of fact, it’s my dream of an ideal freelancing day. With the right planning in place, you can make sure that many of your days turn out like I described (or like whatever else your ideal day would be like).

How Do You Stay Productive?

Do you have some productivity tips that I missed? How do you squeeze optimum productivity from your day?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by *clairity*

Comments

  1. says

    The way you tell it, it sounds like you got it made. Congratulations!

    But I can’t help but wonder what your P&L Statement looks like. Of course I wonder about of lot of stuff I read. But that’s my thoughts about the matter.

  2. says

    I never thought about a virtual assistant but what a great idea. It’s very easy to waste a day when working for yourself, discipline is very important, especially in quite times but this is the ideal time to work on your own business. Have printed this list out, thanks.

  3. says

    Gold–Thanks for worrying about me, but no need. :) I am profitable. It may sound like I’m advocating spending a lot of money, but remember that smart expenditures (faster computer, VA, etc.) can actually enable you to make more money in the end.

    Houston Web Designer & Web Design RD–Welcome! Thanks for your kind words. :) I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. says

    wow sounds like fairy tale…for me i am always running behind time…i think i get overloaded many a times..but can’t schedule picture perfect like you did :)

  5. says

    Hi Ensemble and Motyar! Well, here it is not quite 4:30 and I just turned part 1 of a nearly 2k project (on time) and am about ready to wrap up my work day–so no, it’s not a fairy tale. My ideal is something I strive to achieve the majority of the time. Do I hit it a 100% of the time? No, but I hit it quite frequently.

    One thing that may help you is to remember to negotiate price and deadlines. Try not to be selling your services based on being the low cost provider and also remember to ask if tight deadlines can be adjusted to be more reasonable. You’d be surprised how often the client says “yes.”

  6. says

    normally my charges are good :) just that i love this work i keep on piling on ..something i am working on it but someday i will win like you did…nice post though atleast i know its possible :)

  7. says

    I love your post! Procrastination is one of my toughest enemies :-) However, I would also love to read suggestions for busy freelancer moms of small children. My daughters are 4 and 1 years old and I since they were born, I just cannot seem to find the right family-work-sports balance :-( I am a night owl and would love to work at night but our nights are really short so I have to be up at six am. I am totaly unproductive in the morning, my brain starts functioning at noon or later. But at 3.30 pm, it is time to finish my work and go pick up the kids. I spend the afternoon with them, go for a short run after their bedtime and that’s it.

    I always feel I’m missing something and I always feel I’m not doing enough :-(

  8. says

    The tips are really good but I personally think that one have to be more careful about the proper usage of the time. We must keep in mind that each an every seconds pays and so we be more productive. Learn about the tricks to do so and that too without hampering the work.

  9. says

    In my line of work, this does not seem doable. But in any case: can someone tell me what a virtual assistant is? I am not familiar with this.

  10. Daquan Wright says

    “Start on time. Procrastination is an enemy to productivity. If you work at home and you are a full time freelancer, make sure that you work a full eight hours every day. Don’t put off starting your work day just because you can. Get a good start each day and keep on going.”

    Freelancing requires more discipline than a regular job, I believe it’s one of the toughest attributes to acquire in this field, more so than any technology or software. Because you have so much time, you feel you can put it off, but it builds fast. It’s best to work 6 – 8 hrs a day imo and treat it as an actual business, rather than a hobby.

  11. says

    Avoiding burnout is biggest one for me when you are first starting out with freelance writing. It can be easy to overwork, and working out how to manage your timetable and take breaks on a regular basis without worrying that you aren’t doing enough is so important.

    I’d even recommend taking an hour out of the day to go and do something completely different like take a walk or go swimming so you can get a break from the computer screen. I find I’m much more productive after a walk in the park.

  12. Matthew says

    Wow, to be honest i see what the author is saying. But really, the only way this lifestyle is realistic as a freelancer is if you are really specialized/established. Otherwise this article really is a dream.

  13. says

    Oh the gym thing. Although I don’t prefer a gym, I used to workout at home, like do aerobics. But now recently I’m taking up that time for blogging. Gotta do a BIG change in plans. Thanks for the heads up Laura :)

  14. says

    What a great post! Just reading it gave me chills and caused my heart to beat faster.
    This could change ANY Office environment. I know I’d be much more excited about coming to work when I knew I would be asked and would be asking about what is being done.

    So I’ll spread it around!!
    Thank you for thinking outside the box.
    Dubai Movers

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