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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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*