Freelancing has some considerable perks, but, unless you consciously take action against the downsides, working autonomously from home can become a chaotic, unhealthy grind.
To keep you feeling great and kicking goals as a freelancer, we’ve compiled 12 hacks to give you an immediate spring in your step and a spike in your productivity.
It’s a well-known fact that fatigue and sleepiness lowers productivity, so be sure that you get into good sleep habits to boost your daytime output. Make sure you get around 8 hours of sleep each night, and have a consistent routine around what time you get to sleep and wake up each day.
We all know it’s important to exercise to maintain good health. What many don’t realise, however, is that the endorphins that are released following physical activity can significantly increase our ability to concentrate. The best way to set your day up for productivity is to get active in the morning and start your workday right.
Taken from the busy world of project management, the organizational method of ‘time-boxing’ has become a go-to tool for many professionals. It’s simply a method whereby you plan out your day and allocate a certain period of time to complete a task and move on to the next regardless. It can take some practice, but the results are worth it.
As well as starting your day with some endorphin-pumping exercise, it’s important to incorporate regular movement into your working day. Aim to avoid being stationary for too long, by getting up every hour or so - go and make a drink or take a short stroll outside. Just a few minutes can unlock a whole new perspective and a refreshed feeling ready for more concise action.
Despite the wondrous technological advances in digital efficiency, sometimes nothing beats the humble to-do list for ploughing through tasks. Whether you opt for a good old fashioned pad and pen or use an app like Wunderlist, jot a new task down as it comes to mind to avoid forgetting it. You can also use your to-do list to map out your time-boxes, too. Additionally, consider going all-out and investing in customisable organisational apps like Plutio to stay ahead of it all.
Regular pings from your email inbox can be distracting, and it’s all too easy to find yourself regularly responding to messages and neglecting a task you were in the middle of. Ideally, assign a set period of time each day to clear your inbox - this keeps your inbox uncluttered and leaves you free to focus on one task at a time for increased productivity.
Whilst delegating may not seem applicable as a freelancer, it’s important to consider that what you choose to take on or delegate and outsource to another, impacts upon your productivity no matter what the task. So, think twice about struggling through your own tax returns or trying to repair your own laptop and instead consider the value of your time and pay a specialist instead.
This point is almost too obvious to include, yet it is so common to overlook and easily causes decreased cognitive function when neglected. A regular intake of water is essential to keeping your mind sharp. Aim for a minimum of around two litres per day. As a bonus, this will force some extra toilet breaks that will keep you moving throughout the day!
Studies have shown that creativity can be stifled amidst silence. Equally, though, raging rock or pop tunes can be distracting. Ideally, use classical or other ambient music to aid your focus when working.
Whether it’s the start of a new task or an online meeting, try to practice sticking to your schedule religiously. Once you let it slip, you will find yourself becoming tardy and potentially missing deadlines and even losing clients. The more organized you are, the less you need to worry.
With deadlines to meet and new work to curate, it can be easy to neglect any personal or professional development. But, finding inspiration by listening to a podcast or improving your skills can catapult your productivity to the next level. So, try to factor in some knowledge building and self-development each week to keep you feeling inspired.
To avoid burn-out, it's imperative as a freelancer to know your limits and monitor your productivity around them. How many working hours remain productive before your focus starts to slip? What times of the day do you work at your best? Knowing clearly where your limits lie can assist you to better plan and increase your efficiency.
Maintaining optimal productivity whilst working autonomously from home takes discipline and practice. But, with the right approach, you can impose some important self-discipline measures to dramatically shift your output and enjoyment of the work for the better.