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6 Habits of Super Productive Freelancers

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There are many benefits to freelancing, including the ability to set your own hours and rid yourself of a long, boring, and expensive commute.

(Forgot how awesome freelancing is? Read this.)

However, one of the downsides of being your own boss is that no one’s there to check in on you. It’s all too easy to lose focus, which only harms you and your business. Especially during the holiday season, it’s harder than ever to carve out hours of productive time when:

  • there are treats to bake,
  • decorations to hang, and
  • (if you’re lucky) snow to play in!

The more productive you can be as a freelancer, the more work you can produce and the more you can ultimately earn. So how do you stay on task and become a super-producer?

Try making these tips a habit.

Create a personalized routine.

One of the big plusses is the ability to work according to your own schedule, and personalizing this as much as possible can help keep you on task.

Are you a night owl? Don’t force yourself to get up for an 8 AM start to the day!

Use your own habits and work to create a schedule that suits them.

Schedule the hardest tasks early in the day.

Do you start the day with a mug of coffee and a casual perusal of your inbox? Save this for after you’ve made that important phone call to a client, organized your invoices, or knocked out your creative work first!

If there’s something you’re dreading, do it straight away and you’ll have the rest of the day to work on the more fun and relaxing tasks. This can kick-start your productivity when scheduling your freelance life.

Make to-do lists.

Successful freelancers are usually masters of the classic to-do list. Think on both the micro and macro scale with your lists, making lists of long-term goals as well as daily task lists to complete. Ticking the boxes is a good feeling, helping you build confidence and fly through your work.

If you’re bombarded with emails from clients, keeping a to-do list is also a good way to stay organized and plan your schedule over the next week or two.

Schedule breaks.

When your to-do list trails on for several pages, you may not think that you have the time for a lunch break. But taking breaks is essential for your mental well-being and ability to focus, so schedule them into the workday.

Seriously, write down “lunch” on your to-do list, if necessary. Take a walk around the block or answer some personal emails. Another part of being a freelancer is the incessant meetings with clients. For example, Moxie’s Meeting Scheduler gives you full control of your time, while also making it easy to connect and collaborate with clients. This ensures there are no back-and-forth emails.

Work according to your energy levels.

Along these same lines, another habit to get into is to schedule your work according to your natural energy ebb and flow.

When you’re tired, you aren’t able to produce your best creative work. This can end up wasting precious time that could be better used elsewhere. Get in the habit of stopping work when your energy levels are low.

Break up work into manageable chunks.

As an creative, you’re responsible not only for the design work but also for finance, marketing, and sales that can feel like a mountain of work.

When your work load seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller pieces and create a work schedule that’s not so intimidating. Budget a set amount of time to complete a small task, using a timer if necessary.

This gives you a series of small deadlines to adhere to, helping you stay on task.

What works for you?

These are just a few of my ideas to help you become a more productive freelancer. What did I leave out? Share your get-productive tips in the comments!

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Written by Rachel MacDonald

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Rachel MacDonald is a design and lifestyle writer who has been freelancing for over five years.

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  1. Mike Smith says:

    I find myself doing the smaller, easier to accomplish tasks first in the day. It builds up a sense of accomplishment for me, seeing each item marked off my list, which makes those larger tasks feel less daunting since I have less weighing on me in the back of my mind.

    I am 100% in agreement with creating a schedule that works best for you. I find myself working best on client work earlier in the day, and late at night when everyone else is sleeping I get a rush of energy to write and do extra work. This means mid-day I’m usually spending time with family so I am not missing out on the balance, but it’s what works best for me, so I make it work.

    I would also add a #7 habit of a productive freelancer – shutting down all outside distractions and actually getting work done. It’s hard to do client work while you’re checking Twitter, seeing emails pop up, hearing family in the background, etc. Throw on some headphones, shut everything else down and get to work 🙂

  2. I think that schedule breaks is the most important part. But I’ve also found that if you’re motivated, you should do as much work as you can without breaks before you start to procrastinate.

  3. Christian Sikelela Ncube says:

    I love scheduling my creative stuff to the time of day(night) when I’m most creative – this saves me a lot of frustration trying to be creative at a time when I know I’ll waste a lot of time just trying, then I’ll happily do the rest with all my mind at peace.