How to stay productive as a freelancer

Having the freedom to work from home is one thing almost everybody covets.

Doing away with commuting, working even in your pajamas, taking mid-day naps and working at your own preferred time are some of the reasons why many professionals idealize freelance opportunities. However, truth be told, though working from home is quite amazing, it comes with its fair share of challenges.

As a freelancer, you will be surprised at how easily you can get distracted when working from home. You can sit down at your desk, start working with your coffee beside you, but then find yourself just 2 hours later deep into YouTube Videos or even attending to your Facebook feeds. Actually, if you are not keen, you will only be half as productive as when working from an office. The biggest challenge for freelancing is being able to stay focused and productive. Fortunately, there are some tested and proven ways that you can use to improve both your focus and productivity when working as a freelancer.

“Time is your most precious resource.”

Set a Limit on Certain tasks

Time is your most precious resource. It’s the time that you spend on your online business that turns into pay. Everyone has 24 hours. However, when working from home, it may sometimes seem that time is endless, since tomorrow you’ll also be sitting on that desk and chances are nobody is really pressuring you. You, therefore, might find yourself spending too much time on one thing. Sometimes you can even spend half a day sorting your mailbox and grooming your profile.

One way to manage your time for increased productivity it to set time limits on certain tasks. This involves clearly indicating somewhere the tasks at hand, and when you’ll handle them. The other way is to set a timer on a task. At the beginning of the task, you can decide how much time you want to spend on it, set a timer, and then be disciplined enough to respect that. Later in this post, I’ll explain to you an important and effective app you can use for this.

Avoid Distractions

One of the biggest challenges when working from home is the distractions that come in handy. These are what reduce your discipline as a professional and make you use your time in a manner that even you won’t be pleased with in the evening.

Identify the things that easily distract you. Getting rid of these things is key to maintaining your discipline. One of the best ways to avoid distraction is setting up a different room for work. This place will help you by getting your eyes off the video game set, the TV, and other possible distractions. If you usually find yourself picking up your phone for no apparent reason, leave it in another room before you start working. You can even go and work in a café if the music there is not distracting you.

Find a sense of balance

It’s important to know when to step away from your desk. You may find yourself clogged with a lot of work and you can lose focus on other important things like staying sane. After working, you need to take some time for yourself and relax, after all this should be one of the benefits of being a freelancer.

Take time to do some exercises or hit the gym. This will significantly help your body remain strong and healthy. Remember to spend some time with friends and family, and you will have created a healthy balance between work and life, which will help you be even more productive.

Break large tasks into Sub-tasks

Sometimes you may be faced with a daunting task that you can’t help but distract yourself from it. It is natural to feel this way for such a task, but there’s a solution. What you should do is take this task and break it into some smaller tasks. For example, if you are doing a long blog post for client X, you can split into smaller bits. Doing this makes the work look easier, and gives that feeling of satisfaction when you complete a sub-task.

Schedule Tasks according to Energy Required

Scheduling tasks in itself helps you prioritize the work at hand. With a schedule, you will be keen to observe deadlines, rather than forget a particular task you were supposed to do till its due. However, do not just schedule. Plan your work by the amount of energy it requires. Do the creative heavy lifting in the morning, because you won’t be able to focus on it when tired. You can then handle other simple stuff like email and social media in the afternoon.

Your schedule should also be able to create a routine over time. Go to bed at a particular time and get up at a certain time. Don’t just wake up depending on how late you stayed up last night. Creating a routine will help you get more work done, and will boost your performance and productivity.

Top Tips for Staying Productive as a Freelancer When Working From Home

Create a Dedicated Workspace:

Having a specific area set aside for work helps in mentally preparing you for a productive day. It signals to your brain that it's time to focus on work, which can help reduce the temptation to engage in non-work-related activities. A dedicated workspace also helps in minimizing interruptions from household members, as they recognize this space as your 'office'.

Establish a Routine:

Human beings thrive on routine. By setting regular work hours, you create a sense of normalcy and predictability, which can significantly enhance focus and efficiency. A routine also helps in setting boundaries between work time and personal time, reducing the risk of work spilling over into your personal life, which is a common issue for freelancers.

Use a Planner or Digital Tools:

Freelancers often juggle multiple projects and deadlines. Organizational tools enable you to keep track of your responsibilities, deadlines, and meetings, ensuring nothing gets overlooked. These tools also assist in prioritizing tasks, so you can focus on what's most important or urgent.

Set Clear Goals:

Setting specific, achievable goals for each task or project can provide direction and motivation. It allows you to break down larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks, making them seem less daunting and easier to tackle. This approach also offers a clear measure of progress and success, which can be very motivating.

Take Regular Breaks:

Continuous work without breaks can lead to mental fatigue and decreased productivity over time. Regular breaks, on the other hand, can help refresh your mind, improve concentration, and maintain a high level of performance throughout the day. Breaks are also an opportunity to stretch and move, which is important for physical health.

Limit Distractions:

Distractions can significantly impede productivity. By identifying and minimizing sources of distraction, you can maintain a higher level of focus. This might mean silencing your phone, using apps to block distracting websites during work hours, or setting specific times to handle personal tasks.

Stay Connected:

Isolation can be one of the biggest challenges of working from home. Staying connected with peers, mentors, and others in your industry can provide a sense of community, offer opportunities for collaboration, and even help in generating new business. It also provides a channel for sharing ideas and receiving feedback.

Invest in Reliable Technology:

The right tools can make a significant difference in your ability to work efficiently. Investing in reliable technology means fewer technical issues and disruptions. This includes not only your computer and internet connection but also ergonomic furniture to prevent physical strain.

Prioritize Your Health:

Your physical and mental health directly impact your productivity and overall satisfaction with freelance life. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep can improve concentration, energy levels, and resilience to stress. Mental health, including taking breaks and seeking support when needed, is equally important.

Review and Adjust Regularly:

The freelance world is dynamic, and what works well one month may not the next. Regularly reviewing your work habits, productivity levels, and even your health allows you to make informed adjustments. This continuous improvement mindset can help you find better ways to work and maintain balance over time.

Use MinuteDock for Tracking your Time

MinuteDock is an app that tracks your work day. With MinuteDock, you will be able to instantly jump between various clients and tasks without missing a beat. It will also provide you with in-depth reporting features that will show both you and your client what you have been working on.

You will need to start your timer and write down what you're doing in the description. This way you’ll be able to run effective and productive reports on how and where you use your time. MinuteDock will also help you keep track of your budgets and targets using MinuteDock’s “Goals.” This will help you stay more focused and productive as a freelancer.

Want to learn more about MinuteDock?

We've built the best easy to use time tracking software for individuals and teams.

Try for FreeLearn More

Other articles that might spark your interest...