When you are a freelancer, the time between your start and finish seems like a blur. I cannot tell you how many times three hours felt like 30 minutes.
The reason why this happens makes perfect sense. When you are on a deadline, every second of every moment feels like a step to a goal. As a result, time becomes an ally and an enemy.
I know that you have probably read article after article about productivity do’s and don’ts, so I won’t bore you with the stats. You know what you rock at, and you know where you struggle. So, here are my favorite freelance productivity hacks. Feel free to borrow them, ignore them, or simply scoff at their existence.
Freelancing and productivity are all about what works for you. So take what I say as a grain of salt (or something you want to try :-D).
Try a Paper and Software Tool Combo
In freelancing, project management and planning are your best weapons. However, it can be challenging to find your ebb and flow. Well, when I was trying this out as a freelancer, I was unsure of whether pen and paper worked or if a software tool was a better option. So, I did both exclusively. I did a pen and paper with an agenda but found that it was a bit too restrictive. I did a software tool and found that I missed the satisfaction of physically checking stuff off. So, I switched to both. Now, I use Asana to plan out my week (the calendar view is my BFF), and then I use a notebook to plan out the day by the hour. There, I cross off as I go along.
Have a Morning Routine
I used to be horrible with this, but as a freelancer needing some balance, I have gotten better. I used to hop right out of bed and check email, and then work on my first project. Today, things are a lot different. Now, I jump out of bed at 8 AM, take the dog for a walk, grab breakfast, check out the latest news headlines, and then plan out my day by the hour. Once that occurs, I am ready to jump in. I have found that it helps me to work some of the anxiousness out of the start of the day, while also helping me detach myself enough to realize everything doesn’t have to be about work all the time. The mornings are mine, and having a morning routine helps me to get better at preparing for what I do.
Having a Virtual Crew
So, as we have all come to know, the life of a freelancer can be quite lonely, primarily if you work from home. As of now, I do frequent coffee shops at least once a week. I also try to have lunch or dinner with friends once every other week. However, I am not always able to get out as much as I want. So, I combat that by having a virtual group. I have a couple of friends who also work remotely, so we check on each other throughout the day or week. I also have joined a Discord (basically Slack for gamers) group that allows me to communicate with others consistently. So, digital tools—while not a replacement—can be an excellent placeholder for physical communication and interaction.
Freelance Productivity Hacks are Essential…
Finding your “productivity flow,” while freelancing isn’t always easy. Honestly, it’s taken me over a year to figure out the setup that best works for me, and I am still finding new things I didn’t know about before. However, I am happy with where things are, and still am committed to making things work even better. So, be confident in the fact that you will also find your own “productivity normal.”