10 Daily Habits for Increasing Your Productivity When Freelancing
When it comes to productivity, there is no ‘on and off' switch.
However, there's practice and a little guidance from us that will help you control it better when doing freelance work.
Most freelancers occupy themselves with various activities throughout the day.
As a one-person army, they not only need to attend to their primary job but also do peripheral things such as negotiating, finding new clients, etc.
All of this can be overwhelming for one person and requires a high level of focus.
To successfully tackle this in a timely and efficient manner, there has to be some kind of order going on.
However, however hard it may seem to enter into work mode, there are a few steps that can help you keep moving forward.
It may sound contradictory, but we need a routine to follow to enter the creative flow.
First of all, you need to establish a morning routine.
Next on the agenda is following your daily schedule.
Make sure that you work smart and take brakes.
Don't forget about your health and time for relaxation.
As these were only a few general points, we'll now go into more detail about ten things you should do every day to increase your productivity when freelancing.
1 – Get a good night's sleep
To start your day fresh and energised, a rested mind is needed.
Sleep improves your concentration and cognition, which, in return, helps with your performance at work.
7 to 8 hours of sleep is required for the brain to rest and improve your problem-solving skills and memory, which will help you get more work done in less time.
Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up when you hear the first alarm, without putting it on snooze.
If you follow this advice, you will work without a single yawn to waste your time the whole day.
This should become a habit of yours if you want to stay productive.
2 – Plan your meals
We tend to think about food only when we realise that we are getting hungry.
So, if we don't plan, we can end up frequently buying food that's the most readily available to us.
And that's probably some kind of junk food.
Sure, junk food can taste great, but the problem is that it lacks the nutrients crucial for powering our brains and body.
Moreover, without enough power, well, there's no way you can be productive in the long run.
Keeping that in mind, try planning your meals; several days or even a whole week ahead.
Go for natural and healthy food and superfoods that can boost productivity.
Things that are packed with nutrients, like oatmeal, avocado, or salmon.
These superfood products are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – everything you need to start the day fresh and keep your energy levels high.
To make things easier for yourself, you should cook your lunch in advance and have a few prepared, so you can just take it out of the fridge in the morning when you leave for work.
Even if you're working from home, have some supplies ready.
Therefore you save much time that you would otherwise spend in the kitchen.
Always have a bottle of water or lemonade with you.
Keeping yourself hydrated helps your body and mind to stay in shape.
Our brain is 85% water, and if it drops by only 1%, we lose 5% cognitive skills.
So stay hydrated.
3 – Make a to-do list
List all the tasks you plan on completing during the day on a piece of paper, starting with the most important one.
Try to figure out how much time you need for each task.
A free online timesheet calculator can come in very handy for this.
Then, plan your day, so you tackle the most demanding ones in your most productive time.
One recent study shows that 11 o'clock tends to be the most productive hour of the day.
When your most laborious task for the day is completed, you will feel relieved, and all other tasks ahead will be easier to accomplish.
Once you are done with one of the bullet points, cross it off the list. It will give you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
By making a to-do list you are less likely to lose sight of what is essential.
You'll have a precise time frame for completing these tasks, which makes it less likely you'll waste your precious time.
Just make sure to include breaks between tasks: make some tea or coffee, meditate, or just wander around for a few minutes.
4 – Listen to music
A few theories are arguing whether music helps or distracts us while working.
It comes down to your habits and the type of music you listen to while working.
If you are used to listening to music, naturally you will work better with it. And vice versa.
Generally, some types of music work better for productivity than others. For example:
Simple music with a simple structure of three cords is excellent for a repetitive work; this includes songs such as Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama, Led Zeppelin – Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl;
Baroque music helps in improving accuracy: Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frederic Verdi, etc.
Sounds of nature improve mood and cognitive skills – waterfalls, raining, bird songs, waves;
High ‘'power” music makes you feel powerful and in control: Queen – We Will Rock You, Survivor – The Eye Of The Tiger, 50 cent – In The Club;
Video game soundtracks make you feel like your work is a game you have to complete – Skyrim, Assassin's Creed III;
Mozart's music helps with abstract reasoning abilities.
Instrumental music helps with dealing with challenging tasks – piano music, dubstep, meditation music.
5 – Set goals and rewards
When you set a goal, you have a clear image of that needs to be done to achieve that goal.
Aim to set yourself with SMART goals.
That is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.
That way, you'll be able to easier track progress and productivity.
After every accomplishment, you should reward yourself.
Go out with friends after work to celebrate or go to the cinema.
If you set yourself a goal before getting to work, you will have something to keep you going forward.
6 – Don't multitask
Being a freelancer means you have many responsibilities that you need to handle all by yourself, and that requires much time.
While it may seem like you will finish earlier if you do all of the work at once, you won't be able to focus on any of the tasks individually.
Which will ultimately result in poor performance.
You may finish earlier, but everything will be done subpar, leaving you to do redo most of it.
Only after finishing with one task you should start with another, giving it your undivided attention.
7 – Block distractions
Social media, TV, podcasts smartphones, etc. are your main distractions.
It can be challenging for freelancers to keep them at bay due to working from home and having no supervisors apart from themselves.
Make sure to leave your smartphone in another room and use tools to block social media platforms on your computer.
If you are in a distraction-free zone, you will have an easier time focusing on your work and checking tasks off the list in no time.
After a job is well done, you can reward yourself with a little indulgence in social media and web browsing.
8 – Practice a hobby
When freelancing, you often find yourself working for the large part of the day, which is hard and takes a lot of time and energy.
One way to regain that energy is by doing something that fills you with joy and happiness.
Work hard, play hard, as they say.
Try practising a hobby that will make feel better and help you recharge your batteries.
If you choose a creative hobby, it can even improve your cognitive skills.
9 – Don't be a perfectionist
Though being a freelancer means you are the sole responsible for the outcome of your work.
As you, of course, shouldn't slack off and do a poor job, you also shouldn't beat yourself up if you come upon some mistakes or if you're not entirely satisfied with the outcome.
If you try to make everything perfect, you'll soon find yourself approaching the deadline with nothing to show for.
10 – Say NO
Too many yeses won't have a positive result.
You won't have free time, you will always be under pressure, and you'll likely burn out soon.
Learn to say no and to respect yourself and your time.
To sum it up, higher productivity levels when working as a freelancer have more to do with working smart than working hard.
As mentioned at the beginning, to increase productivity, you have to learn to plan, prioritise, relax and avoid burnout.
Author Bio: Marko Maric is a marketer and a blogger. He mostly writes about marketing, business, and productivity topics. Follow him on Twitter @mmmaric for more insights.