Every day is different for freelancers. You make your own hours, and do different tasks for different clients. You have productive days and non-productive days. The best thing to do is to take full advantage of your productive days! When you're feeling motivated, go ahead and pull out all the stops.
Here are a few tricks to help optimize your productive days.
DO NOT work in your pajamas. Pajamas are for lazy weekends and Netflix. Wearing pajamas while you’re working only invites you to be lazy and counterproductive. Get dressed! Now, you don't have to go the whole nine yards in your suit, or dress and heels, but just dressing in something other than your pajamas can boost your motivation and help you go the extra mile.
GET CLEANED UP
Another similar trick is the making sure you keep your work area clean. The messier your work area, the harder it is to actually get things done. All the unecessary stuff sitting around you and getting in your way screams for attention. It's highly distracting. The less messy your work space is, the easier it becomes to be productive.
Your own home is full of distractions. In your house, you probably have all sorts of things that need to get done, such as dishes, laundry, and the squeaky back door that you've been meaning to fix for months. To actually get things done, you have to lock yourself away in a room or get out. Sometimes your best option is to just work somewhere else! This is the perfect opportunity to go to the new coffee shop down the street, find out what their Wifi code is, buy a cup of coffee, and work. Find a quiet little corner where no one will bother you and work until you finish. After that, go home and fix the squeaky door.
If you're dressed well, you've gotten out of the house, and you still need an extra push, try the trusty “to do list” trick. Write down everything that you need to do, and just do them. The action of crossing tasks off a list is highly satisfying. It's not cheating if you go ahead and add 1 or 2 things you've already done so you can go ahead and cross them off. It helps you to already feel more productive! Other options include:
- Break up your large tasks into smaller ones. This helps you take on those tasks step by step.
- Tell yourself you'll work for 10 minutes. You'll say that's totally doable! Chances are, you'll get on a roll and work for longer.
- Get an app. There are many apps out there whose sole purpose is to keep you focused. Some of them disable your distracting apps (a.k.a Facebook, Intagram, Twitter, Angry Birds, etc.), others (like Forest) rely on your sense of responsiblity and achievement. In Forest, you plant a seed that will grow into a tree in 30 minutes. If you leave the app for any reason, your tree withers away.
Train others to help you focus. Let your friends know not to text you when you're working (or at least tell them not to be offended if you don't answer them right away). Most of the time, people won't approach someone if that person has headphones on, so that's an option.
Now here's a trick you may or may not like. Evaluate yourself. The best way to do this is to track your time. Be vigilant about it. Time how long you worked as well as how long you didn't work. You'll see where your time goes and how much you actually acheived. If you're not pleased with the results, something's got to change. Get a timer app to simplify the time tracking process.