Every freelancer works differently but one thing we can surely all agree on is that it’s difficult to manage your time and work effectively without a solid plan in place.
It’s all about creating good habits that maintain your productivity. Here are some things to get into the habit of to ensure lasting success.
Write a to-do list
To-do lists are a simple yet effective way to stay on track. There’s nothing like crossing a bunch of things off your list and relaxing after a hard day at work.
Whether you prefer a handwritten one or to use an app like Todoist, get into the habit of creating a to-do list at the start of each day. Prioritise which needs doing first and you’ll be more likely to get everything done.
Schedule your day
You’ve no doubt got a lot to do during the day but the lure of Netflix is sometimes too much to resist and soon enough there’s another day gone without anything to show for it except TV trivia.
The number one piece of advice you’ll see all over the internet is “schedule your day” and they’re all right. Not having a set schedule (one of the perks of being a freelancer) can make it so much harder to motivate yourself. This can get to a point where you end up going back to a job with a schedule that’s out of your control.
First make a list of things you need to do during the day, for example:
- Client work
If these are consistent things you need to do every day or week, note down how long it takes to complete these tasks on average. Once you know how long it takes to do everything, set this time aside at the start of each day or week, e.g. half an hour a day for admin, five hours for client work and so on.
Pay attention to what times of day you work best and schedule your most difficult tasks for then to ensure you’re working as efficiently as possible.
For example, if you’re a morning person, then do you client work from 7am onwards. Leave tedious, repetitive tasks to the afternoon when your concentration isn’t 100%.
Even if it’s just a walk to the corner shop or to get a coffee. Don’t get into the habit of spending all day, every day indoors. The fresh air, sunlight and social interaction can help give your brain a reset, improve your mood and solve that boredom you were saving for some mindless Twitter scrolling.
Keep things tidy
If you’ve ever had an email inbox grow into an uncontrollable mess then you’ll already know about the importance of keeping everything organised.
Try to spend a few minutes each day sorting emails into folders according to subject or sender so that emails are easier to find and refer to if you need them in the future.
The same goes for your paperwork (if you keep it) or your virtual documents and folders on your computer. Keep everything tidy at the end of each day so you don’t have to set aside hours of your time 6 months down the line when you realise everything is a mess.
Take regular breaks
Find yourself wandering over to Facebook every half an hour? It may not just be lack of discipline at play here. There have been studies that show our concentration only lasts about 20-30 mins. While having a break every 20 minutes might not be very productive, there’s no reason not to have mini breaks at regular intervals throughout the day.
By mini breaks we mean stepping away from your desk to walk around, get a coffee or eat a snack. Getting away from the desk can only be a good thing, it’s better for your health than forcing yourself to sit still when you’re itching to move. Make sure you’re taking a lunch break too, preferably away from your desk.
If you’re worried these five minute breaks might grow into hours, try setting yourself a timer to remind yourself to get back to work.
What good (or bad) freelancing habits do you have? What would you say is the best habit to have? Please share your thoughts below.x