6 Painless Ways to Boost Your Productivity as a FreelancerGuest_Blogger | Aug 23, 2010
Ask any freelancer around, and you'll get the same response: Maintaining a strong level of productivity is an absolute must for success. Ed Gandia, co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer and co-founder of International Freelancers Day (Sept. 24-25) brings 6 great ways to make you a more efficient and productive freelancer.
I love working from home. The flexibility to take my lunch break whenever I want, visit the gym when it’s not crowded or walk my dog when I need to clear my mind...
You just can’t put a price on that!
But with that flexibility comes temptation. The temptation to watch a bit of TV (which turns into a two-hour break). Eat a snack and call a friend about last night’s football game. Take a nap. Go shopping. Name your weakness.
That’s not good. Because as a freelancer, your most precious nonrenewable resource (besides your knowledge, talents and experience) is your time. Using it wisely is one of the quickest ways to boost your income and get more free time.
How can you become more productive? Here are six simple and easy-to-implement tips that have helped me boost my productivity by more than 30 percent over the last two years. I guarantee that you’ll get similar (or even better) results if you apply them.
#1: Start by developing a productive attitude. Treat your craft as a business, not a hobby. And treat your time as a business owner would treat her most valuable inventory: with great care. After all, time is part of your own “inventory.”
This doesn’t mean you should work more hours. You could be working full-time, part-time or half-time. It doesn’t matter. But when you’re at work… work! Which leads me to the next point…
#2: Set working hours every day. And stick to them. For instance, I’m at my desk every day by 7:00 a.m. I find that the early morning hours are the most productive for me. My mind is clearer and my creative energies sharper.
End time is 6:00 p.m. That sounds like a long day, but I take an hour to go to the gym every day. I also pick up my son from school four days a week. Some days I take him to school in the mornings. And when we get home, we usually spend an hour doing homework and playing. I also often have meetings, lunches or coffee with friends and personal appointments. So it’s not all work time.
#3: Schedule your day. The night before or first thing in the morning, look at your overall project schedule and determine how you’ll allocate your time that day, hour by hour. Include personal time in that schedule. Above all, stick to it. Be disciplined. This tip alone will boost your productivity by 10 or 20 percent almost immediately.
#4: Always work on the task at hand. If you’ve allocated 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to Project XYZ, work on that project for the whole two hours. It’s OK to take a break halfway through (more on that in a minute). But then get back to work on time. Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t check Facebook. You’re at work!
#5: Turn your phone’s ringer off if you’re easily distracted. Let calls go to voice mail and return calls during two or three designated times during the day. Similarly, turn your email program off if you don’t have the discipline to stay away from it. And at a minimum, turn off the chime or indicators your email program uses to notify you of incoming emails. Not only is it distracting, it also keeps you from building momentum on the task at hand.
#6: Use the “50-minute focus” technique. Developed by marketing whiz Dean Jackson, this technique is like strapping a jet engine to the back of a Ferrari! (OK, maybe not that fast, but still!). It’s amazingly simple and equally as effective. Here's how it works:
- Get a timer with an alarm. I use an online egg timer, but you can use a wristwatch or a kitchen timer.
- Select the project you want to work on, preferably one where you really need to make some serious progress.
- Set the timer for 50 minutes.
- During those 50 minutes, be totally focused on that project, just as you would be at an important client meeting. Don't check email. Don't take a break. Don't let your mind wander to the plans you have for the weekend. Be totally immersed.
- When the timer goes off, stop working. Completely unplug from the project for 20 minutes (yes, 20 full minutes!). During that time, you can take a break or get a few non-project tasks done. (I like to read.)
- After 20 minutes, assuming you still plan on working, do another 50-minute focus.
What about you? What techniques have helped you stay focused and boosted your productivity? What has NOT worked for you? Share with us in the comments below.
About the Author:
Ed Gandia is co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle. He’s also a co-founder of International Freelancers Day — the biggest-ever FREE online conference exclusively for solo professionals, which will be held on Sept. 24 and 25. To learn more, visit www.InternationalFreelancersDay.com.