When I started out, I often wondered how to increase productivity as a freelancer.
I read about freelance writers who could easily finish the crazy amount of work in a few hours (like, writing a 1000 word post in one hour and in one sitting or bloggers scheduling all their social media posts in one hour at max.)
And, there I was.
Struggling to meet the deadlines and at the same time, focusing on getting new clients and marketing my writing business.
Trying to balance between my personal and professional life.
I was working whenever I got time, 2 AM or 2 PM! Sometimes, I worked in the car while we were on the way to a friends place.
Not kidding, seriously!
A lot of things, like, cooking a detailed meal and spending quality time with family went for a toss.
What I did not understand for a long time was,
This was not the way to increase productivity as a freelancer.
In fact, instead of seeing an increase in productivity as a freelancer, my productivity started declining. I was tired, irritated and out of focus most of the times.
Wondering, what happened?
I overworked. I got it all wrong!
And then for a long time, I decided to focus on a few things and regained my interest, focus and energy.
Let me tell you a secret right here –
To increase productivity as a freelancer is no joke. It is damn tough and (trust me!) it will not happen on its own.
A lot of freelancers believe with practice and time, you will increase productivity as a freelancer. That is partially true.
But, that is definitely not the entire picture.
You really need to work on it. Understand what works for you and what does not.
And, you need to know your limits!
One more thing –
If you have a habit of comparing yourself to others, stop here. It is doing no good. In fact, it is hurting your productivity.
Great, now that is out in the open. I was wondering where to include this point, and this just seemed right!
In this post, I will share 6 ways I increased productivity as a freelancer.
Determine your timings and take a weekly off
Usually, when you say “work from home” or “location independent”, people tend to believe we don’t have schedules.
But, that is far from the truth.
Freelancing does not mean you keep working without having any “office time”. I learned it the hard way and take it from me – working “anytime I have time” approach does more harm than good.
And, it definitely does not increase productivity as a freelancer.
Chalk out time slots that work best for you. For example, when your kids go to school or they nap. If you have a toddler, it can be a herculean task but figure it out. It is a win if you can figure out 2-3 hours in a day when you can work without interruption.
If you’re traveling, include work days in your plan. Recently, Daaku and I drove to Manali and I kept half a day extra only to finish a few things on my blog.
Along with this, I had decided that between 12-12:30 at night I will work on social media scheduling (PS: I knew we will be back to the resort at that time).
You really do not need to have 8 hours or more to be “productive”. Focus on utilizing whatever you have in the best possible manner.
If you have no idea how to do this, note down your daily patterns for a month. It will give you the perfect idea of what hours can work for you.
I figured I have approx 2 hours before lunchtime and 4-5 post lunch every day (except weekends!).
One more thing –
Take a weekly off. Forget about work, emails, social media, designs, camera and just relax. Pamper yourself the way you want – coffee and a book, anyone? Deep tissue massage?
Okay… so I oscillate between the two on my pamper day!
Divide goals into several smaller and achievable goals
Let’s say, your goal is to achieve $5000 a month by the end of this year.
Divide it into small bits.
For achieving $5000 a month, you will need 5 clients who pay $1000 each. At your present rate, $1000 would mean 2-3 700-1000 word articles.
That also tells us that we will have 15 deliverables in a month, which is achievable!
For July, your goal is to add one more client to your pool. So, your target is to connect with at least 50 potential clients on LinkedIn and cold email at least 300 leads.
Get my point?
Initially, it will take some time to break goals into smaller goals.
But, once you have done it, it will make things easier for you to achieve, plan and implement. (obviously, not in that order!)
And, in the process, you will increase productivity as a freelancer by multifold.
Also, follow SMART method for each goal.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – R
T – Time
When you divide each goal into smaller goals, you will know exactly what you have to every day.
This way, you are bound to increase productivity as a freelancer.
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Batch your tasks each day
Batching is freaking awesome!
It will increase your productivity as a freelancer by multifold.
So, what do you do in batching?
Let’s say, you are a freelance writer. So, my day usually includes researching, writing, editing, responding to emails and marketing on social media
So, I batch one type of tasks together.
It looks like this
9-10 AM – Research on the deliverables. I make an outline of all the articles I want to finish writing in that day
11-1 AM – Finishing writing two articles of 700 words each
7-8 PM – Edit the articles and send
I have also dedicated two 15 minute time slots in a day to respond to my emails. This saves me a hell lot of time!
I don’t keep checking emails and fall in the rut of responding quickly.
Use tools and technology
We live in a world where we have so many tools to increase productivity as a freelancer.
Make use of them.
If you are a freelance writer, you need to use these 6 FREE tools.
STOP working if you DON’T feel like it
I am talking about freelancers block!
For writers, it is writer’s block.
Sometimes, it is just also called being “bored” or “disinterested”
Don’t force yourself to finish work. Look at it this way –
You will force yourself to work when you are at your creative least. What happens to your work?
It is NEVER your best work. In fact, your work will be full of error and non-coherent
Recently, I forced myself to finish an email for a client and I received a stinking email with mistakes I did (idiotic ones!)
Not only would this be risking a good client, this is really embarrassing and speaks for you as a freelancer.
I get it. What if you are nearing a deadline?
If you cannot finish it on time, ask for another 1-2 day. Clients are usually happy to give you some more time if you inform them in advance.
Also, you will take 6 hours to do the same job which usually takes you an hour!
So, the rule of thumb is – If you are feeling un-creative, take a break and work later.
You get time to rejuvenate and increase your productivity as a freelancer
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Hire a virtual assistant
Most VA’s charge by the hour. You will probably require 10 hours at max in a month.
So, hire one. I am not asking you to splurge! Find a good VA in your budget. You can do that using Fiverr.
Let them take care of routine tasks which eat up your time. For example, checking emails, responding to a few standard ones, creating your calendar for the month, etc.
Think like a business.
You cannot do everything yourself but if you can delegate and focus completely on the important things (like, landing more clients), you can expand and grow quickly.
Not to forget, it helps you increase productivity as a freelancer
In your free time or the forced break (read freelancers block), socialize.
Talk to other freelancers, join relevant FB groups and make friends. We are not against each other, we are all in it together.
You will be surprised at the tips and process suggestions people are ready to give to increase productivity as a freelancer. I have learned so much from other freelancers and made some excellent friends in my journey
Your turn now –