If you’re a freelancer, it’s likely that you’ll have your own way of working that you’ve used since you began freelancing. You’ll feel comfortable in the way that you approach your projects and to a certain extent, you’ll feel that you’re producing work at a relatively high level. Sure, you could probably increase your productivity if you really tried. Everyone could. But who actually does?
If you think like this and believe that their could be a chance of you possibly raising your productivity levels, it’s strongly recommended to sit down and determine exactly how productive you are at the minute. Whilst you may think you’re working 40 hours a week, how many hours of that is actual work? How many of it is checking e-mails? Tweeting? Updating your Facebook status? Reading blogs? Forum posting? They may all only take minutes individually, but added up they could turn into several hours.
There are various different ways to work and increase your productivity levels as a freelancer. If you’re unsure which way to go, take a look at these popular options and you may be surprised just how unproductive you currently are.
The Corporate Lifestyle
Strangely, a lot of freelancers actually enjoy working in a more formal and corporate way. They’ll set their alarm clock for 7:00am, shower and get dressed before making a coffee and heading to work in their home office. They’ll have a coffee break mid-morning, take an hour for lunch, break in the afternoon and then leave the office, close the door, get changed into their non-work clothes and continue their life as normal.
It’s an odd concept for many non-freelancers to get their head around, as the traditional view of a freelancer is one where their work is not particularly structured, allowing them to work whenever they wish. Although this is definitely an option, it’s also seen as the primary reason why productivity falters. Humans are creatures or habit and routine and without at least some stability, we can be easily distracted from what we should really be doing.
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Breaking The Day Up
What a lot of freelancers struggle to come to terms with, especially those who have left the corporate world to freelance, is the amount of freedom that they have in respect of their own working hours. As they don’t have a boss standing over them, telling them to start work at a certain time and finish at another, a lot of new freelancers take the opportunity to check the e-mails more regularly than normal or read the latest news on their favorite websites whenever the feel like it.
As great as this can be, unless something is put in place to monitor your non-work usage, a day can easily go by without getting even a full hours work done and because of this, many freelancers set themselves a working schedule and factor in regular breaks or treats.
For example, a popular method is for every hour that is worked, spend ten minutes reading the news, checking your e-mail or catching up with friends on Twitter or Facebook. Once these ten minutes are up, return to work for another hour and then break for ten minutes again after these 60 minutes have passed.
Door Closed, Head Down
This method isn’t one that is generally recommended for a lot of people, as it can require a lot of concentration and willpower – but it does work for some.
The idea is to schedule several hours of work for the following day and have everything you need to complete that work to hand in one place. You would then go to your office and work solidly for however many hours it takes to complete the scheduled work.
Of course, there has to be some leeway when looking at toilet breaks and any business telephone calls, but generally speaking, most people won’t deviate from their work unless it is absolutely necessary, until it has all been complete.
If you head down this route, it’s important to be aware of the signs of burnout. Working continually for hours on end may be needed for certain projects on a short term basis, but used regularly, it can have the opposite intended effect and actually decrease productivity.
If you think that your productivity is down, but you feel most comfortable with how your current schedule is going (in terms of the way you work), then it is recommended to utilize any of the many tools that have been created to help freelancers increase their actual work productivity.
One of these tools comes in the form of putting a block on certain websites that you ask it to, for a specific period of time. So, if you had a big project to work on and you wanted to get four hours work carried out on it without any distractions, as much as you can say to yourself you won’t check your e-mails, Twitter or LinkedIn profile, for example, the temptation is always there. These programs, however, can block these types of websites (or any specific ones that you tell it to), until the allotted time is up.
In addition to this, there are several tools that allow you to actually ‘clock on’ when you begin work (as well as ‘clocking off’ for breaks, etc) and that will calculate how much money you are earning on an hourly basis. These are great tools as although you might think that you’re earning $240 a day as you’re working a full 8 hours at $30, if this tool is used truthfully, it can determine your real hourly rate, taking into account any unnecessary breaks that you pause for.
This tool in particular is one that can prompt a lot of people to do something about their productivity, as it shows in black and white just how much money they are earning, which can be a big difference to what they thought they were taking home.
As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to work as and when you wish. Although this works for some freelancers, the amount of distractions that are apparent and so easily available as you don’t have a boss breathing over your shoulder can be too much to resist for some and they need to take a good luck at their productivity levels, ensuring that it is as high as it should be.