I love being a freelancer but being your own boss and juggling work life and family life can be difficult and overwhelming. And whenever I feel overwhelmed, my productivity suffers.
Pallmallestates.co.uk have created the infographic at the bottom of the post to help you with some tips and tricks but I’ve also had a chat with some of my freelancer buddies to share with you their top productivity tips for freelancers or all those who would like to get things done.
Productivity tips for freelancers
No matter, if you like it organised or you love your creative chaos, having a dedicated space that serves one purpose only, namely getting your work done, can actually help you increase your productivity and finish your daily tasks. Kayleigh from Inspire Gratitude & Manifest as well as Pete from Household Money Saving swear by having a dedicated workspace or even home office and say it helps them be more focused.
Sam from Dove Cottage thinks it’s crucial to her productivity that she goes about her day as if she were leaving for a job outside the house. She says ‘get dressed and put makeup on rather than staying in PJs or tracksuit bottoms. It helps you switch from home mode into work mode’ and I have to agree with her. If I dress in loungewear, the last thing I want to do is sit at my desk and work.
Something that I do all the time and that is one of my top productivity tips for freelancers or those working from home is to make lists and schedule your day. I know a lot of my friends do this too and it works great for them, so here are a couple of ideas how to organise your day when you’re working for yourself:
Give yourself office hours with a set lunch break and smaller coffee or tea breaks – maybe treat yourself to a new coffee set for an extra boost of energy every now and then. A bit of change makes breaktime more fun and will help you stick to them. Another useful tip is to make sure people around you know when you’re working or you’re risking getting bombarded by friends, family or the postman who needs someone to accept parcels for the entire neighbourhood.
My friend Susanna from A Modern Mother even suggests putting a “Mum’s At Work” sign on your door, so well-meaning family members don’t pop in and out asking you questions. Becky from Eat Simply also has a fresh air break every day. She says ‘it gives you something to work towards and a definite break’ – something we tend to forget or fill with chores around the house.
Productivity tips: Planning your workload
Planning tasks and goals is just as important as a healthy work/life balance but different strategies work for different types. Some love an old-fashioned to-do list on a piece of paper or their planner. Others prefer a digital schedule that they can sync with their partner or other freelancers they are working with.
I’m very much a piece of paper and planner girl. I write down everything I need to do the night before, so I can start tackling my tasks for the day as soon as I’m coming in from the school run. And let me tell you, if it isn’t on my list it isn’t happening.
Leyla from This Day I Love is a little more progressive when it comes to using technology when planning her day. She finds spreadsheets really helpful when organising her daily tasks and says ‘I have plans and to do lists and they really ensure a structure to my day’.
Productivity tips: accomplishing your goals
Now that we’ve looked at the different ways of planning your tasks, let’s look at ways to accomplish them:
Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders recommends making a plan of what you want to achieve at the beginning of each calendar month. Then, break it down into weekly goals, and finally into daily tasks. This makes tasks more manageable, plus you are accountable to your goals.
Cerys from The Blog Surgery even takes it a step further. She says: ‘Think of your long-term goals, e.g. 1-year or 5-year, and divide them into quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily goals. It’s much easier to achieve a short-term goal than a huge goal at the end of 12 months or 5 years if you cut it into chunks.’
Nadine aka Scandi Mummy, on the other hand, is not a fan of working on too many goals. ‘Focus on one task at a time. It’s easy to get distracted and by only doing one thing at a time rather than multi-task you end up getting more done’.
Ruth from Craft with Cartwright works in a similar way. She admits ‘I set myself a timer and give myself an hour to work on task A. When the timer stops, I move to task B. This method really helps me focus on getting one thing done at a time.’
Rachel from Coffee, Cake, Kids follows the Pomodoro method, which is similar but works with shorter time frames. She says: ‘For me, that means 25 minutes of working on a task, a 5-minute break to stretch my legs, have a mooch on FB or make a cuppa before I go back to the task for another 25 minutes.’
Natalie from Crummy Mummy suggests to ‘set yourself mini-deadlines throughout the day and stick to them but to also factor in buffer time for the things you can’t plan for so you don’t get behind’. Very wise, if you ask me, especially as you never know which disaster strikes next when you’re working around your family and household.
My friend Cat from Yellow Days by the way, swears by ‘eating the frog’. She’s basically jumping in at the deep end and getting the thing she’s dreading out the way first thing every morning. I usually do the same thing and in general, it works really works well for me but on days I’m really lacking motivation, I allow myself the flexibility to shuffle my to-do list and start with something that inspires me. That way I can check off at least one thing on my list instead of not accomplishing anything at all.
Productivity tips: eliminate time suckers
Something that I can definitely improve on is eliminating time suckers that distract me during my work phases.
My friends Joy and Emma suggest disabling social media and email apps and Sarah copies the briefs for her projects into the matching documents. That way you don’t need to flick back and forth between screens and possibly get distracted with a new email – something I’m totally guilty of.
No matter what works for you, though, always focus on what you’re working for. Keep yourself motivated with a mood board or prints that inspire you and surround yourself with like-minded people. Working from home can be incredibly isolating and lonely, so why not meet up with others and have a work date at your local coffee shop?
Before you head out, though, check out the infographic below and let me know your productivity tips in the comments! I’d love to find out what keeps you on track!