The freedom and independence that freelancing brings to business owners is rewarding, and a fairly unique aspect of the industry. However, this freedom also comes with the responsibility and necessary discipline to remain productive so you ensure your output is both sustainable and impactful.
Working productively is an essential aspect of entrepreneurial success. As business executive Robert F. Smith has said, “successful entrepreneurs spend endless hours, days, years toiling away for little time, little pay, and zero glamour.” His sentiments are true, especially for small business owners like those in the freelancing industry. If you’re unable to focus and put in the work, then you’ll impair the growth of your business.
So, to help you stay productive, here are five tips to incorporate into your daily working routine to stay focused in your freelancing career:
1. Create an Office Space
As a freelancer working without an office, it can be difficult to fully focus on your projects if you’re having to dodge your children’s playdates or your spouse’s own work calls. It’s important that you have your own space so that you’re able to fully focus on your tasks, whether that means a home office, a quiet corner, or a rented office space.
This will also help you compartmentalize your life and create a more distinct work/life balance so it’s easier to de-stress from projects during personal hours, and fully concentrate on productivity during work hours. This distinction will likely help you enjoy your work more and be a better business owner overall.
2. Use a Schedule
Schedules are a freelancer’s best friend. They will help you organize your different client projects, create a task agenda, and, like using an office, allow you to separate your work from your personal life in order to be more focused when you’re within your working hours.
Use a scheduling tool to lay out a plan of deadlines for each upcoming week so that you feel a sense of urgency to complete tasks and in turn work more efficiently. This will also allow you to cross off projects as you complete them, which will help you feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, giving you an extra boost of motivation throughout the day.
3. Take a Break
While this may sound counterintuitive to being productive, research suggests that taking several short breaks throughout the workday can help improve your focus overall. By working in sections and then taking a mental break, you recharge your energy levels and boost your creativity so that when you return to your project, you can work more effectively.
Try to keep these breaks to about 10-15 minutes so they’re long enough for you to relax, but not so much so that they’ll interrupt your day. During your breaks, try to leave your desk, stretch, walk, get a snack, talk to a friend, or whatever it is that will clear your head and get business off your mind for a few minutes.
4. Listen to Music
Whether you’re working in your home office or a busy coffee shop, experts believe that listening to music can help you tune out distractions, thus improving your productivity. Luckily, as a freelancer and, more importantly, your own boss, you can use headphones whenever you want to block out outside noise and focus on your projects.
Try to use lyric-free music, like classical or instrumental, to help your brain avoid multitasking between language translation and your regular work. And, don’t feel pressured to listen to one specific genre. Instead, play whatever you enjoy the most to help you keep your energy levels high.
5. Track your Time
Tracking your time not only helps you stay attentive to the task at hand, but it also helps you understand where you’re spending your time inefficiently, and where you should allow more time to complete tasks.
Consider using a calendar to mark off how you spent your day, paired with an end-of-the-week review of your time. If you spend more time on creative work, reflect on how you’re using that time. Are you focusing too much on one aspect of a project, or are you equally distributing your attention as needed? Analyzing this information will help you better understand how to use your day effectively to complete all your tasks.
Using these methods will help you stay productive no matter where or how you work on freelance projects. Try them out to be as efficient as possible and build up your business’s long-term success.
About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthew’s Design Co. and teaches thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog, newsletter, and community for freelancers — The Freelance Institute.