A Freelancers guide to hit peak productivity.
Now, it’s impossible to be at peak productivity all of the time. But at least with this ‘How To’ guide you will have some tools and tips to know how to get there!
I, myself, struggle with being super productive and efficient. In fact, I was two days overdue on submitting this blog post for review. (not something I am proud of!) But, sometimes other deadlines and tasks get in the way. Heck, life gets in the way!
In these moments, it is important to forgive yourself and work towards how you can be better next time! After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And you won’t reach peak productivity in a day either!
But you’re here - reading about becoming more productive and efficient. You’ve realized you need help - and you’re in the right place! Let’s get started!
Top Productivity Tips
- Start each week and each day with a to-do list & tackle your most important items first
- Don’t check your emails until you’re ready to respond to them
- Block out time in your calendar to focus on different tasks
- Set realistic timelines with your clients, your team (and yourself!)
- Create small goals for projects, so you can see your progress
- Avoid multitasking by focusing on one task at a time
- Keep track of your time
- Avoid distractions & turn your push notifications off
1. Make a to-do list and tackle important items first
Time management is KEY to productivity.
If you spend just 30 minutes at the beginning of each day creating a structured schedule or to-do list, the rest of your day will thank you for it!
Even spending 90 minutes at the beginning of your week working out what you need to get done will make you more efficient.
Top tip when writing your to-do list: always put your important tasks first. Once you get them out of the way, you’ll find it easier to tackle all your other tasks - trust us!
If you’re looking for specific tips of time management - check out our latest blog here (link to Time Management blog - new).
2. Don’t check your inbox!
It is so easy to get stuck in the cycle of checking and responding to emails.
The truth is - a lot of us that are office-based (especially freelancers) spend way too much time sifting through emails.
The best thing to do is set aside time slots on your busy days to check emails. And if it’s not the email checking time - close them! We all have phones - if something is urgent, I’m sure you’ll get a call!
3. Block out your calendar
When you’re creating your to-do list, block out times in your calendar to get things done.
This way you a) won’t forget to work on them, and b) won’t double book yourself so you’re in a meeting instead! Plus, if you are part of a remote team that has access to your schedule, you can block out your time as “busy” and truly live in a “do not disturb” world.
4. Set realistic timelines
Too many of us commit to timelines that even we know are unrealistic - just to get the job. The truth is, your clients will be happier, and there will be less stress, when you set realistic timelines from the beginning.
The amount of time you spend on a task should be equivalent to what you’re getting paid for it - no less! The more you practice these productivity tips, the more you will understand how valuable your time is - and the better your work habits will become!
5. Create small goals for each project
If you have a big project - and the only way you are going to track your progress is at completion - you will lose interest pretty quickly!
Create small goals for each project, and tick them off as you complete them. The sense of satisfaction to tick things off your to-do list will keep you motivated. The more tasks you tick off, the more of a productive day you feel you’ve had.
Like everything in life - it’s all a mind game. If you can teach your brain to be satisfied with your progress, you will convince yourself you are more efficient!
6. Stop multitasking!!!
Okay - today’s the day - I will finish the flyer for Client A....
Starts working on flyer…
In Spongebob voice… “One moment later”...
14 tabs open, 3 different projects on the go, plus six different emails with half a response…
Does this sound familiar?
If it does - don’t be embarrassed! Multitasking is really useful when you are trying to cook dinner, do the washing and talk on the phone at the same time. But when it comes to work, the number one thing that productive people do - is focus on one task at a time.
If you focus on one thing at a time, you get it done faster, and your to do list shrinks quicker. Yes, you may get all 10 tasks done in the same amount of time juggling through them - but it induces stress levels and it is just not worth it!
7. Keep track of your time
Knowing how you are spending time is what is going to help you save time long term.
After a while you can review your habits and see where you spend the most time, and where you waste the most time. Seeing your time patterns in data form can be pretty intimidating - but it is just like standing on the scales. Once you see the numbers, you can’t deny it!
8. Avoid distractions - and turn off push notifications
One word for you - social media.
This is the biggest distraction of our generation. The best thing I’ve ever done, as inspired by Mel Robbins, was turn off push notifications. So I only check my social media in my own time - not when my phone tells me to.
Real work can’t get done when your phone is going off every two minutes telling you someone else commented on a post you liked.
Social media, of course, is not the only distraction. Whatever else distracts you - the TV on in the background, kids, the looming pile of washing in the living room - try your best to avoid it. You won’t be productive with your mind focussed on 100 different things. Trust me!
If you’re interested in learning more about staying focused, check out our article ‘How to Stay Focused and Productive as a Full-Time Freelancer’.