Written by Vira Talingting.
Freelance productivity is the holy grail of every freelancer working his way to achieving the income goal. For some, it is a natural talent but it’s an uphill battle for most, and that includes me. Imagine pushing a boulder up a steep incline — that is how I usually feel the moment deadlines loom, and I am not even done even with half of my daily quota. The anxiety and stress are about to crush me, knowing it has the potential of delaying the timeline I have set for my projects.
As exciting as it may sound, freelancing is not all about rosy-colored days and happily waiting for your shift to end. It takes a lot of motivation and grit to get your constant grind of productivity and avoid backlogs from piling up. No more in-office manager breathing down your neck, demanding updates of your progress every hour and by the hour, a plus, but also bad if you are the kind who suck at self-accountability.
This doesn’t have to be the daily scenario of your freelance productivity; it doesn’t have to be a battle that you barely beat by the skin of your teeth. There are efficient and doable tips that can help you stay productive while working from home.
Let’s take a look at some of the productivity tips that I lived by being a remote worker for the past four years.
Process your way towards efficiency and productivity
Make a habit of establishing and documenting a process for anything and everything you have done at least twice regarding your work. This method is not new but a lot of new freelancers still do not utilize it as much. That is when they start getting bogged down in their tasks.
There are a lot of benefits the moment you decide to process up. For one, it helps reduce errors by providing a definite guide. And if mistakes did happen, you have a document to review and backtrack what you have done and fix it. A process saves you time from trying to remember what step comes next. Not to mention how it allows you to maintain the quality of your output.
Your processes will also help you scale the moment your clientele grows, and you need to tweak some corners of your operation to accommodate more work.
Designate an area as your work station
Stay away from your bed when working — a tip I should have taken more seriously when I was just a freelancing newbie. From personal experience, I lose focus when I see my bed. Instead of thinking about work, I am more tempted to go lay down, curl up with my favorite pillow, and binge watch on Netflix.
Pick a corner where there is an ample amount of natural light filtering in. Vitamin sunlight is not only known to increase your immunity from sickness but also your motivation, and so, it will also help boost productivity and accomplish more tasks.
An official workstation separate from your personal living space also gives you a more professional mindset geared towards tackling your work tasks for the day.
Develop good habits and stick with them
This is the fundamental tip often overlooked by a lot of freelancers. What you do not know, getting the most out of your day begins with starting your day right. As simple as waking up at seven in the morning to perform your morning rituals can go a long way in prepping you mentally throughout the day and boost your freelance productivity.
If you ever wonder what successful business owners possess other than impressive business acumen, it’s because they develop positive habits and stick with them. It can be a tough act to follow but when done right, it will help to increase productivity in business, because let’s face it, your freelancing is your bread and butter. It’s your business.
Developing positive habits is not an overnight miracle. It’s starting on small things, such as waking up early and doing your 30-minute exercise, and building your tolerance until it becomes second nature to you.
Motivation can come and go in a blink. You could be spitting output after output today, only to have your muse go missing tomorrow and have your productivity suffer for the next several days. Having solid habits to fall back on will help you function even when you are running on steam and coffee alone.
Learn how to prioritize tasks that have more impact on the grand scheme of things
Establishing a to-do list the night before is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to freelance productivity tips.
When you start gaining and managing more clients, accomplishing your mounting number of daily tasks can be quite challenging. You also don’t want to drop a client or two unless you are prepared for the income dip that’s going to follow such decision. Listing down your tasks for tomorrow and making sure that put at the top the major and most pressing ones on the top of the list.
Use tools to stay organized at work
Tools play a vital role when it comes to maintaining efficient work from home routine. I use Google Docs for documenting all of my processes and collaborating with other freelancers. It is also where I write most of my blog pieces. For tracking the time I spend on each blog post, I use a tool called Pomello. It helps me keep focused by doing 25-minute sprints before taking a five to ten-minute rest. Rinse and then repeat the process.
I am a huge believer that one efficient tool, along with a solid strategy, can gain you an edge against your competitors. Tools definitely make your life as a hustling freelancer a tad bit easier.
I could go on and on about all the other tools that I consider essential for every effective freelancer, but that’s a topic best discussed in another blog post. A caveat though the price of the tool shouldn’t be your basis in choosing it. Your choice should be based on whether it has the feature that will offer you the best benefit, and not only because it bears a high price tag.
Reward yourself for a job well done
Among all the tips for working remotely that I have tried over the years, this one has pushed me, a freelance writer, to overcome my productivity challenges and aim to become more. Aside from the fact that I get to help a business thrive through my expertise, I go after my daily productivity grind because I know there is something good waiting for me at the end of all these efforts I spend.
In fact, I keep a list of my goals/rewards in a post-it note and had it taped beside my computer unit. Whenever I feel like not working or my motivation has taken a plunge, I look up, take a breather, and read these little post-it notes.
I hope the tips I have mentioned will help you the way they did me.
Cheers fellow freelancers, forge ahead!