As a freelancer, your schedule will be a lot more flexible compared to working on full-time jobs. But it doesn’t work like that in all aspects. A regular, daily job, will force you to adopt certain lifestyle habits. You know that, once your working hours are over, you are free to do pretty much anything you want.
As a freelancer, however, there is another aspect that comes into play, despite the fact that you don’t have a tight schedule to hold on to-- the deadlines. Deadlines can be quite a pain and more often than not, dealing with them would be a matter of building a schedule on your own.
And this is what throws off a lot of freelancers because schedules are tricky. They give you the impression of a loose leash – as long as it isn’t too tight, you have nothing to worry about. But as you move forward, the leash starts squeezing more and more, until you will find yourself unable to advance anymore.
Here, we are talking about postponing, a notion every freelancer is familiarized with because everyone does it. You might not be in the mood, or you want to relax just a bit longer; whatever the case may be, postponing your deadline is never a good idea, because it will eventually affect your productivity. So, what is there to be done?
Putting a schedule back together
It is simple – a schedule refers to building lifestyle habits to help you improve the productivity and overall efficiency as a freelancer. And some of the most important ones include:
Defining the timeframes
You know you have a lot of work to do and you know the deadline for each project you have. The best way to increase productivity is to set timeframes for everything you do. You get up at 7:30 AM, drink your coffee, relax a bit until 8:00 AM, and then start working.
Take a 30 minutes relaxation break after 3 hours of work, then go for another 3 hours. You can adopt the same strategy every day, as part of your routine, which will allow you to accommodate to the schedule for a long period of time.
Always start with the worst
You may have a complex and difficult project to deal with. We have all been there. It is both intimidating and frustrating knowing that you have to do it, no matter for how long you avoid it. The problem is that this mindset could affect your overall performance because it installs a mental blockage.
Getting over it is less difficult than you might think. Simply start with the hardest project first. Get it off your chest and get that one done before anything else. Introduce that strategy in your habit, until you will stop fearing any type of project, no matter how hard. Because now you are determined to finish it first, leaving all the easy and the fun stuff for last. Sort of like a treat!
Don’t get crowded
The more projects and tasks you take on, the harder it will be to cope with everything you have in an efficient way. If you are requested to deliver quality and you have a reputation of doing so, never take on tasks you can’t complete. Even if they are basically easy, if they stack up, you might not be able to deal with them in time.
Instead, only accept what you can complete within the given timeframe. Whether there is one single project or several, what matters is for you to not get crowded with deadlines knocking on your door constantly. This would be enough to wear you out psychologically.
Don’t get distracted, stick to the plan
As a freelancer, you probably work online. If that is the case, then you are well familiarized with the numerous distractions that may bring your productivity down. And, since you are a professional, you can’t let that happen. Close all the internet tabs you don’t need, deactivate social media platforms, notifications and focus on the job.
This goes the same regardless of the area you are working in. You know your occupation’s specifics, so adapt this piece of advice to whatever it is you are doing.
Put time goals in place
The best way to maintain yourself wired is to trick your brain by forcing it to believe it has no other choice. Sounds confusing? Not at all. Here is what you need to do. Put on a timer and set it for 1 hour or even 1 and a half. That will be the time you must work without stopping.
And try to complete as much work as you can within that specific timeframe, while maintaining the quality and the job’s specifics. If you get that into your daily habit, your brain will simply take it as a rule and once the timer will stop, it will automatically enter the work-state of mind.
It may sound like a bizarre concept because you would expect someone else to reward you. An external authority who appreciates your work and wants to show you that. But it can work just as good if you do it to yourself too. Think about it. There must be hobbies you are into or small things you like to do in your spare time.
Maybe it is playing a video game, watching a TV show or doing some sports. Whatever it is, only reward you with that particular activity once you have achieved your project goals. You will be amazed of how effective this technique is in improving the overall productivity.
Sure, working as a freelancer is overall more rewarding than sticking to a nerve-wracking and tedious day job. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. As a freelancer, increasing the productivity will ultimately decide your income, your reputation and your character.
These are some useful habits you can develop to boost your advantage but don’t think of them as exhaustive. Feel free to improvise and adapt. Now get to work!
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