Why Every Freelancer Should Slow Down and Brainstorm

As freelancers, we tend to get in a rush. We get busy. We’ve got deadlines facing us. We don’t have time to waste… but we end up getting stuck in an efficiency rut.

I love to save time as much as the next person. One of the ways that I save time (and you’ve probably read about it here on FreelanceFolder) is by using templates and other automated time-saving methods.

Automated techniques can really help a freelancer become more efficient with his or her time. If you’re repeating a similar task very frequently, it really pays off to create templates or systems to help speed things up.

I have one client that likes to see their work formatted in a very specific way. To save time, I’ve created a blank template especially for this client’s projects. Using the template reduces the time that I spend on this client’s work by over 30%.

There are drawbacks, however, to relying too much on templates and other time-saving tools. While you may be saving time, your work could be losing out in innovation and creativity — and that’s where scheduled brainstorming comes into play.

Four Drawbacks Of Being Too Efficient

If you never slow down and always rely on what you’ve done before, your projects may eventually suffer from your use of the same old tools and time-saving methods.

Some pitfalls to relying too much on templates on other time-saving tools include:

  1. New Technology — Technology may have become more efficient since you first developed your original time-saving method. Relying on an old template could be costing you time and money.
  2. New Ideas — You may have acquired some new skills or read about some new ideas that will handle your project even better than the timesaving technique that you are using now.
  3. New Requirements — The client may have updated his or her requirements for their projects. Using your old template or timesaving tools may not meet the client’s newest requirements.
  4. New Tools — There may be new tools or resources available to do the work that weren’t originally available when you developed your template.

As you can see, there are definitely some drawbacks to trying to be too efficient. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

The Value of Brainstorming

You can avoid most of the pitfalls of trying be too efficient by making it a point to periodically slow down and look at your repeat project work with fresh eyes. You don’t need to do this every single time you take on repeat business, but it’s a good idea to re-evaluate how you handle repeat clients several times a year.

Brainstorm, to see if there are now better ways to handle the work than the way that you have been handling it. Specifically, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I still using the best tools for the job?
  2. Have I learned new skills since I first started working for this client?
  3. Has the client changed their requirements and expectations for this work?
  4. Does the work that I produce for this client still represent the best that my business can offer?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions then it is probably time to adjust how you are handling your repeat projects.

Some of the changes that you make will be transparent to your clients. For other changes, you may need to ask the client if you can handle the project in a new and more efficient manner.

Have You Gotten Stuck In An Efficiency Rut?

Has your quest for project efficiency ever led you to rely on outdated tools and methods?

If so, what changes did you make? Did those changes affect your relationship with your client?

Share your experiences in the comments.