6 Super Simple but Effective Productivity Tips for Freelancers
Freelancing has become ever more popular following the shake-up of the workforce in the wake of the pandemic.
And while there are many benefits to freelancing, such as the potential for remote working, flexible hours, and the joy of making a living doing what you love while being your own boss, it does have its downsides, especially if you are disorganized and don’t manage your time as well as you should.
If that sounds like you, then never fear. These 6 super simple freelancer productivity tips can help you effectively manage your time and boost your productivity.
1. Start as you mean to go on
First things first! When you onboard a new client, make sure there’s an onboarding process in place so you and your client know what happens next. Having this process streamlined (and, in some parts, automated) can save a whole lot of time.
It’s also a good idea to set up a tool for project management and decide on the best channel for communication between you both.
It may be that your client has guidelines for working with third parties already in place, so just ensure you follow them to avoid any confusion or delay. For creative freelancers, such as copywriters and graphic designers, it’s usual to get a written brief detailing the project and managing expectations before commencement.
At the very start of the client relationship, make sure you have everything you need from them so you are not constantly going back and forth.
It’s the little things like this that can become major headaches later on, so it makes sense to get this right at the start of the freelance/client relationship.
2. Set boundaries
In today’s modern, fast-paced world with social media apps galore, it’s easy to get distracted, so it pays to set boundaries.
This could be email boundaries (only check your email at a certain time or frequency per day), social media boundaries (remove certain social media apps from your phone), to client boundaries (when the client can contact you). While it’s good to be flexible and easy to deal with, you also don’t want your client contacting you at midnight or times when you are resting or having quality family time, expecting you to drop everything at a whim to help them.
If you are working from home, you’ll also need to have boundaries with family time and distractions too. It’s often better to have a designated ergonomically correct workspace or area. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just somewhere that everyone associates with your work. Furthermore, make sure family members know when you are working and when you can’t be disturbed (like on that client discovery call!).
Setting boundaries with your time and attention is key to a flourishing freelance business.
3. Take breaks
Taking frequent breaks is a superpower for productivity and creativity.
You don’t have to do anything major during this break time, like a six-mile extreme hike. It could be a stroll around the block, a trip to the kitchen to make yourself a coffee, or even having a re-energizing power nap.
The key is that you get up from your desk, away from the screen and allow yourself (and your brain) to relax and process.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll be amazed how taking regular breaks can boost your productivity.
Likewise, when you’re a freelancer, it can be easy to fall into the trap of working all hours of the day, seven days a week. So make sure you block off time in your calendar for “you time”.
4. Use online tools that save you time
One thing all freelancers need, if they want to stay in business, is to be paid (and preferably on time). That’s where invoice software comes in.
Good invoice software allows you to effortlessly send your invoices at the push of a button. You can also automate otherwise time-consuming tasks, such as reminders for past-due invoices.
Invoice Ninja, a leading free invoicing software for small business invoicing, online payments, tracking expenses and billable tasks, also has customized invoice templates where you can upload your logo and brand colors. Because they are professional invoice templates, they also include all the necessary payment fields to enable you to be paid accurately and promptly – even from international clients.
5. Take control
This may sound obvious but have a to-do list. And stick to it!
This can be in the form of a simple notepad and pen or an online tool such as a calendar, project management or online task tool. But whatever format or level of sophistication you choose, make sure you jot down all your tasks and when they need to be done.
Then you simply cross them off as you go.
Having a visual overview of what you need to do each day and week is very effective and gives you a sense of satisfaction as you see the list go down.
You’ll also find that breaking down bigger tasks into smaller ones will help eliminate any overwhelm.
6. Just say no!
Realize that you can’t do everything. Turning clients down isn’t a sin. In fact, if you have too much work on, to take on any further clients would be doing them a disservice.
Taking on more work to act as a buffer in leaner times can be tempting, but if you can’t manage it or the work isn’t of the best quality, then you won’t be doing anyone any favors.
If you have a client who is desperate to work with you, inform them that your schedule is full and let them know when there will be an opening.