Working at home and choosing your work hours or work life balance are major freelancing perks, but they come with challenges too. Most freelancers struggle with productivity at one time or another (or every day, let’s be honest). Holding yourself accountable for being productive all day long isn’t easy. It’s a skill we all build over time.
While each person has their own productivity methods, there are certain proven strategies that work more often than not. Try these productivity tips to make the most of each day.
Create a Morning Routine
Our brains don’t automatically become productive just because we have work on our plates. Well-planned morning routines will signal your brain that it’s time to start working.
It could be as simple as showering, making coffee, or other essentials (yes, coffee is essential). Develop a list of steps you follow each morning, maintaining this routine day after day. This will break through that post-sleep fog, triggering the energy to start your day as well as be productive for the rest of your day too.
Complete Tasks by Priority
Tasks lists make each day more manageable by laying out a clear, simple plan to follow. No more wasting time figuring out your next move after each task.
I prioritize my tasks each day, creating my numbered to-do list I simply follow step-by-step. I start with my most important tasks: those that must be done today or by specific times of the day.
From there, I prioritize by doing my least pleasant tasks first, but others do the opposite. I’m motivated by getting my worst jobs done first, knowing the rest of my day will be easier. Others prefer starting with easier tasks, working up to their more difficult ones. It comes down to personal preference, so figure out which one best motivates you.
Schedule Purposeful Breaks
Breaks are crucial but it’s even more crucial to use them wisely. During breaks, do something that boosts your energy levels, creating better productivity throughout the day.
This varies for each person. Use one break to eat breakfast for example. Try short workout breaks, doing some weightlifting reps or walking around outside for 15 minutes. Even breaks for house cleaning give you time away from work and get your blood pumping.
Set Timed Goals
Ever wasted hours on a task that should have been quick, purely because you lost track of time? We’ve all been there. That’s why I set established time goals for each task throughout my days.
I may have one task set for 8:30 am until 10 am, then another from 10 am until 10:45 am. This time management strategy helps me keep moving because I have a completion goal in mind. Using my time tracker also means I don’t spend time on distractions because I’m focused on specific goals. I know that if I can stay focused for another hour, for example, I’ll have this job done.
Prioritize Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep is too often an afterthought in our modern world. It’s something we do in whatever spare time is leftover, whether that’s eight hours or four hours. Too little sleep will hurt your productivity all day (and often longer), so make it a priority instead.
Get your solid night’s sleep by creating your ideal sleep environment: lighting levels, noise levels, temperature, and so on. Give yourself a bedtime, sticking with it each day so your body can learn the routine. Once you’ve developed your routine, the snooze button won’t be so tempting.
Have Multiple Working Zones
Working in one environment all day, every day doesn’t always work. Sometimes we need a change of scenery to re-energize.
That’s why I have multiple “working zones” in my home. There’s my typical desk but I can also work outside on my balcony, on my couch, or even in my bed if I choose. Some settings work better for creative work while others get my mind in the right state for analytical work.
This way, any time I’m struggling to focus, I move to another area. The setting shift is usually all I need to stay productive or bring back my focus.
Know Your Weaknesses
Even the most successful people have weaknesses in their productivity plan. There are always certain distractions or temptations that pull our focus away from work. The trick is learning your weaknesses and finding a solution.
For many, social media is especially problematic. It’s easy to flip it open and spend far too long scrolling endlessly. If that’s your top temptation, leave your phone in another room in between scheduled breaks. There are app locks you can use too, restricting certain apps during specific hours.
Finding a Productivity Plan
Ultimately, each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, their own productivity strategy that helps them work effectively. Try the tips above to discover which tools help you stay productive throughout the day.